Virgin launches status match for Oneworld, Emirates, Air New Zealand

Virgin Australia is extending the scope of its current Gold status match to 16 airlines around the world.

By Chris C., December 15 2020
Virgin launches status match for Oneworld, Emirates, Air New Zealand

Virgin Australia is now offering a fast-tracked Gold status match for top-tier frequent flyers at not just Qantas but all Oneworld member airlines, as well as Qantas' partner Emirates, Air New Zealand, and Oneworld Connect member Fiji Airways.

It's a dramatic broadening of Virgin's existing Velocity Frequent Flyer ‘Discover Gold’ status shortcut offer that opened last week for Qantas Gold and Platinum members, with the application date extended until January 4 so that travellers have plenty of time to request their match.

As the name indicates, this status match will land you the second-highest Gold tier in Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer program – although you can of course work your way towards Velocity Platinum once you've vaulted straight to Gold.

Eligible frequent flyers are awarded instant 'Discover Gold' status for three months, with a very low threshold to extend that to a full year's membership at full Velocity Gold.

Virgin has its eye on the legion of Oneworld travellers from Cathay Pacific’s The Marco Polo Club, Malaysia Airlines Enrich and Qatar Airways Privilege Club, among others.

(If you took advantage of Qatar Airways' own recent status match offer and now hold Privilege Club Gold or Platinum, this means you can handily on-match that status to Velocity Gold.)

Velocity Gold could be yours with just one trip...
Velocity Gold could be yours with just one trip...

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka jokes that “it's a Merry Christmas for Australians who love to travel.”

“I think most Australians are members of both programs (Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity), so having the opportunity to have status on both is a great thing,” she remarked at this month’s CAPA Live aviation forum. 

Here’s what you need to know about Virgin Australia's Velocity Discover Gold status match program.

How long does the Velocity Discover Gold offer run for?

Virgin's initial Velocity Discover Gold offer (when it was restricted to just Qantas) was slated to close on December 21 2020, but that’s now been pushed out to January 4 2021.

This gives travellers a little extra time to lodge their application – particularly now that the offer has been expanded to elite frequent flyers of airlines beyond Qantas.

Hrdlicka says the airline has already “received thousands of applications" from Qantas Frequent Flyer members, and no doubt intends to swell those numbers even further by adding over a dozen other airlines to the Gold-worthy list.

Who is eligible for the Velocity Discover Gold fast track?

Any member of Virgin's Velocity Frequent Flyer program can apply for this status match: unlike Qantas’ competing Gold fast-track offer, the Velocity deal isn’t restricted solely to residents of Australia.

That said, Velocity membership itself is limited in its geographic reach: you have to be a resident of Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, or Vanuatu.

(Interestingly, membership applications are also accepted from Australians living in the country’s Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos Keeling Islands, but not from those living on Norfolk Island: an external territory east of the mainland.)

If you’re not already a member, joining Velocity Frequent Flyer is free and you can sign up here.

Which airlines will Virgin Australia status match against?

Virgin Australia’s Velocity Discover Gold promotion is open to the higher-ranked frequent flyers of all Oneworld member airlines – including Qantas, naturally – along with Air New Zealand, Emirates and Fiji Airways. 

From a Oneworld perspective, this covers Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers (the alliance's global equivalents to Qantas Gold and Platinum).

Virgin's Velocity Gold status match is now available to frequent flyers of all Oneworld airlines.
Virgin's Velocity Gold status match is now available to frequent flyers of all Oneworld airlines.

Here’s a full list of airlines and their eligible membership tiers:

  • Qantas: Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum, Platinum One
  • Air New Zealand: Airpoints Gold, Elite
  • Emirates: Skywards Gold, Platinum
  • Fiji Airways: Tabua Club Plus
  • American Airlines: AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum
  • British Airways: Executive Club Silver, Gold
  • Cathay Pacific: Marco Polo Club Gold, Diamond
  • Finnair: Finnair Plus Gold, Platinum, Platinum Lumo
  • Iberia: Iberia Plus Oro, Platino, Infinita, Infinita Prime
  • Japan Airlines: JAL Global Club Crystal, Sapphire, Premier and Diamond; JMB Sapphire and Diamond
  • Malaysia Airlines: Enrich Gold, Platinum
  • Qatar Airways: Privilege Club Gold, Platinum
  • Royal Air Maroc: Safar Flyer Gold, Platinum
  • Royal Jordanian: Gold Sparrow, Platinum Hawk
  • S7 Airlines: S7 Priority Gold, Platinum
  • SriLankan Airlines: FlySmiLes Gold, Platinum

Note that as Alaska Airlines doesn't officially join Oneworld until March 2021, Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K and Million Miler members don’t make the cut.

'Unpublished' frequent flyer tiers are also ineligible for Velocity's Discover Gold deal: this rules out a status match from invitation-only programs like Qantas' Chairman's Lounge, AirNZ's Elite Priority One and Emirates iO.

(Before you ask, holding VIP-tiered status that is also Oneworld Emerald – such as Qantas Chairman's Lounge, American Airlines ConciergeKey or Cathay Pacific Diamond Invitation – also doesn't qualify: yes, we've checked.)

Starting off with Velocity Discover Gold status

Once approved for Virgin's Gold-grade status match, you'll enjoy three months of what Virgin terms Velocity ‘Discover Gold’ status.

This is a tailored version of the standard Velocity Gold offering, with most of the standard Gold perks including priority check-in and boarding, airport lounge access, additional cabin baggage in economy, a boosted checked baggage allowance, and more.

About all that's missing from your trial Discover Gold membership compared to the full Velocity Gold package is the ability to opt-in for equivalent status with a hotel partner (choose between IHG and Hilton) and a car hire partner (either Europcar or Hertz).

Earning a full year of Velocity Gold status

During your three-month trial period, you’ll need to do two things to ascend to a full year of Velocity Gold status: earn 80 status credits, and fly at least one eligible sector.

(Compare that to the usual Velocity Gold benchmark of 500 status credits and four eligible sectors and you can appreciate how fast this fast-track is.)

The single ‘eligible sector’ is easy enough to check off: it's one paid Virgin Australia flight on any route, on any fare type (Velocity Reward Seats excluded).

As long as there’s a VA flight number on your ticket, that’s this part of the challenge done.

Flying isn't the only way to earn Velocity status credits...
Flying isn't the only way to earn Velocity status credits...

And those 80 status credits? They're a breeze to pocket.

You'll earn some from that eligible flight, and the remainder can come from:

  • additional flying on Virgin;
  • ‘family pooling’ (collecting the status credits earned by other family members);
  • through Velocity partners such as by shopping at Coles, scanning your Flybuys card, and earning status credits when your Velocity Frequent Flyer account is linked.

At the conclusion of the three-month trial period, provided you’ve completed the challenge, you’ll tick over to real Velocity Gold and remain there for a year.

This includes what Virgin calls Companion Gold membership, which lets you gift a full year of Velocity Gold to any other Velocity member.

(If you don't manage to complete the challenge in those 12 weeks, you’ll spend the next year at Velocity Silver, before dropping to entry-level Velocity Red.) 

How to earn 80 Velocity status credits

The easiest way to earn Velocity status credits is by flying with Virgin Australia.

Here’s a quick look at how many status credits you can earn per one-way domestic flight, based on the type of fare purchased and the distance of each flight.

On short trips such as Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane, you'll pocket 7 status credits on the lowest-priced Getaway economy ticket; 15 status credits in Elevate economy; 25 status credits on flexible Freedom economy; 50 status credits booked into Business Saver; and 55 status credits on a fully-flexible Business fare.

Flying Virgin business class between Sydney and Melbourne? That's as good as Gold.
Flying Virgin business class between Sydney and Melbourne? That's as good as Gold.

So if a Sydney-Melbourne trip is on your radar, you’d meet or surpass Virgin's requirement for 80 status credits with:

  • one business class return trip, regardless of business class fare type
  • two economy return trips on the highest-priced Freedom fares
  • three economy return trips on mid-range Elevate tickets

For a mid-length flight, such as between Brisbane and Melbourne, you'll get 10 status credits in Getaway economy; 20 status credits in Elevate economy; 30 status credits on flexible Freedom economy; 60 status credits on Business Saver; and 70 status credits on Business.

Finally, flying coast to coast between Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and Perth lands you 15 status credits in Getaway economy; 30 status credits in Elevate economy; 45 status credits on flexible Freedom economy; 90 status credits on Business Saver; and 105 status credits on Business.

Fast-track your Discover Gold challenge with family pooling, Flybuys

Tools like Velocity’s ‘family pooling’ can make the process of earning 80 status credits even easier.

This lets you funnel status credits from a family member’s account – such as your partner or children, provided they live at the same address – into your own Velocity account.

Whenever that family member travels, you’ll pocket their status credits, bringing you closer to that goal of 80 status credits.

If you took those return trips above together, for example, you’d qualify in half the time, as you’d be collecting not only your own status credits, but those from your family member, too.

Through the Flybuys rewards program, you can also earn one Velocity status credit per $100 spent at Coles supermarkets, when your Flybuys and Velocity accounts are linked.

Just be aware that Flybuys only sends across your status credits once a month, rather than immediately after every shop, so status credits earned via retail purchases made towards the end of your Discover Gold period may not appear in your account until after the challenge.

Status credits that do appear in time, such as from eligible spends in January and February, would be counted towards the 80 you need.

Also read: Last chance – Qantas Gold status match closing soon

How to apply for the Velocity Discover Gold status fast track

Ready to get started on the path to elite Velocity status?

Head to the Velocity Frequent Flyer website and complete the expression of interest form by January 4 2021.

You’ll need to indicate the status you hold, include a photograph or screenshot of your eligible frequent flyer card, and choose when you want your three-month period to begin, which needs to be within the next few weeks.

Velocity's website will shortly be updated to accept status match applications from frequent flyers beyond Qantas.
Velocity's website will shortly be updated to accept status match applications from frequent flyers beyond Qantas.

If matching from Qantas Frequent Flyer, make sure you photograph the ‘loyalty’ side of your card – showing your frequent flyer number, tier and tier expiry date – rather than the Debit Mastercard (Qantas Travel Money) side.

Once your request has been approved, you’ll then begin your three months as a Discover Gold member, putting you on the path to take home real Velocity Gold.

Also read: Last chance – Qantas Gold status match closing soon

Chris C.

A Brisbane-based contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

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