Virgin increases fees for Velocity Frequent Flyer points bookings

From January 2020, nearly all Virgin Australia flights booked with Velocity Points will command a higher cash co-payment.

By Brandon Loo, October 4 2019
Virgin increases fees for Velocity Frequent Flyer points bookings

Using your Velocity Frequent Flyer points to book a seat on a Virgin Australia flight is set to become a more expensive proposition, with an increase in the unavoidable 'carrier charges' now adding up to $100 to the cost of a points-based ticket.

The sole exception to these increases are flights to Los Angeles, which remain pegged at the current carrier surcharge rates.

The new levies take effect for bookings made from Wednesday 8 January 2020, with Velocity overnight providing members with the obligatory 90 days' notice of the changes.

Carrier charges go directly to the airline and are separate from government and airport-imposed taxes.

"These changes are necessary to cover increased airline operating costs," says Karl Schuster, CEO of Virgin's Velocity Frequent Flyer program, who also notes that Velocity is "committed to continually providing a competitive and compelling offering for our members."

Here's how the current Velocity carrier surcharges compare to what you'll be facing from January 2020.

  Current VA Charges   2020 VA Charges  
Economy   Business   Economy   Business  
Domestic $3.50 $5.50 $10 $10
Trans-Tasman $3.50 $5.50 $10 $10
Short International (e.g. Denpasar)   $25 $50 $35 $70
Hong Kong $35 $50 $45 $98
Los Angeles $60 $230 $60 $230

In some cases the revised fees bring Virgin and Velocity in line with Qantas' own carrier charges, and even exceed the Qantas levy, most noticeably on flights to Hong Kong – where a points-based booking in Virgin Australia business class will carry a $98 carrier charge compared to $55 for the Qantas equivalent.

However, the number of Velocity points required to book a business class seat with Virgin Australia remain less than those required by Qantas.

  2020 VA Charges Current QF Charges
Economy     Business     Economy     Business    
Domestic $10 $10 $14 $14
Trans-Tasman $10 $10 $14 $14
Short International (e.g. Denpasar) $35 $70 $35 $105
Hong Kong $45 $98 $45 $55
Los Angeles $60 $230 $60 $215

Although carrier fees have been a long-standing fare component at Qantas, Virgin and Velocity began imposing a carrier charge on points-based 'reward' bookings in January 2019.

Also read: Here are Australia's best Virgin Australia Velocity credit card sign-up offers

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 143

Still way cheaper than Qantas..

30 Nov 2016

Total posts 21

Except for HKG and LAX....which isn't

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 143

Oh yes just read the list again.

My last Mel-lax by QF had $495 charge one way. That was before the price change though.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 157

Snacks, carrier charges - what's next, pass the hat to pay for fuel? VA must really be in strife if they need to repeatedly pinch pennies.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 321

They should have done it long ago, QF have been the masters of extracting fees from pax for a long time, it's why they make money and VA don't, looks like the new CEO knows how to run a business and identify margin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 156

The only reason Virgin hasn't increased charges on LA is because they did it recently as well. I think the added charges are fair for a business looking to 'compete' with Qantas and making a profit. Paul Scurrah seems to know what makes money without upsetting customers and still competing with Qantas.

Most charges are similar to Qantas. except for Hong Kong. Still, Velocity wins needing less points to redeem for a premium cabin seat.

I'm liking Paul Scurrah already. He seems to be a man with vision and more concious with getting the company profitable instead of Borghetti running the company into the ground.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Sep 2017

Total posts 31

I'm not sure that this was the right path to take. It was a point of differentiation between QF and VA. I can see a point if the availability of reward seats increases, but then again. Increase in International presence and better route structure would have presented QF with a dilemma and VA no doubt would have started to slowly erode QF's market share through a more attractive reward scheme. VA are making money on Velocity. Otherwise they would not be attempting to buy it back. You still need a lot of points to redeem a seat. Loyalty in my mind should not be penalized.

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