Members of Virgin Australia's invitation-only Club may enjoy a 'honeymoon period' of membership in the airline's new VIP program following its expected launch in March 2022.
However, to keep their name on the books they'll have to meet the elite tier's yet-to-be-disclosed eligibility criteria.
Thousands of 'high-value' air travellers carry the matte black Club card in their wallet or purse.
That roster includes politicians and high-ranking government officials, C-level executives and business leaders, celebrities and others whose control of a company's travel budget results in a stream of high-dollar bookings to Virgin and its partners.
Among them is an even more elite clique: several dozens who enjoy Lifetime Club membership instead of than the standard two-year membership period.
Their number includes the airline's previous CEOs and chairs, along with several high flyers who are either very influential, very well-connected or both.
So what's to become of Club members when the Club is no more?
Executive Traveller understands that Virgin Australia is considering a 'grace period' for existing Club members, although their enrolment into the airline's "new premium loyalty offering" can't be guaranteed.
The retention of Lifetime Club memberships is also being weighed up as part of the program's overall review.
Making the cut
Approached for comment by Executive Traveller, a Virgin Australia Group spokesperson said "loyalty to our Velocity Frequent Flyer and Club members is at the heart of everything we do and we'll continue to demonstrate that."
But the airline is making no bones about the fact that it is drawing up "more transparent eligibility criteria" for the Club's successor, and members will need to satisfy those criteria to retain their status beyond any courtesy carry-over period.
As previously reported, the program itself will no longer be shrouded in secrecy, with Virgin intending to 'go public' with its VIP tier and make it yet another tool for challenging Qantas in securing business and corporate accounts.
This could point to the new program breaking with its invitation-only origins – intended to match the similarly 'secret' nature of the Qantas Chairman's Lounge – and becoming an attainable status for Virgin's super-frequent flyers who spend more time in airport lounges than their own lounge rooms.
New VIP program with 'high-touch services'
In February 2021, Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka pledged the airline would "be maintaining a VIP program with high touch services".
This week, in announcing the Club lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would reopen in early 2021 – but not those in Canberra and Perth, which will be removed from the network – Hrdlicka indicated some of those primo perks would include complimentary upgrades and "a dedicated phone concierge service" alongside "new premium loyalty benefits."
Speaking with Executive Traveller in May 2021 on the sidelines of the partnership launch between Velocity and 7-Eleven, Hrdlicka said "we have lots of VIPs who travel with us every day and we want to make sure they that have exceptional experiences every time they travel with us."
With those benefits plus access to Virgin's premium lounges – which will also drop their Club branding in favour of a fresh and more Virgin-esque name – a new Velocity VIP tier could help level the field against Qantas' Platinum One.