Virgin mulls paid Velocity Frequent Flyer 'subscription' service

A Virgin Australia survey polls frequent flyers on the notion of paying an annual fee for a range of above-status benefits.

By David Flynn, November 11 2019

Virgin Australia is considering the introduction of a paid subscription service for Velocity Frequent Flyer members which would unlock a range of additional perks and services for an annual fee.

"We are currently exploring some new possible ideas for Velocity member subscription products," the airline stated in online survey shared through the airline's Velocity Voice community of over 5,000 active Velocity frequent flyers, including (of course) many Executive Traveller readers who chose to share this information with us.

Virgin is polling Velocity members on the concept of a paid subscription service.
Virgin is polling Velocity members on the concept of a paid subscription service.

The survey asked recipients to rate a of value-add services including

  • early access to domestic and international sales, before they are widely promoted and opened to the public
  • discounts on non-sale fares
  • a 'concierge' to help assist members with finding points-based reward seats
  • 10 bonus Velocity status credits each month
  • a higher percentage of Velocity points earned on flights
  • discounts on inflight WiFi, food and beverages
  • free upgrades from Economy to Economy X
  • lounge access passes
While surveys and focus groups are used to research concepts and shape ideas which may not eventuate, they also indicate that an idea has progressed to a point where it merits deeper consideration: we should note that previous Virgin Australia surveys reported by Executive Traveller led to the introduction of the airline's Economy X product and the structure of its inflight WiFi packages.

Approached by Executive Traveller for comment, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said "We regularly survey a group of highly engaged members to receive feedback on our Velocity program. We are always looking at ways to innovate and improve our offering for members, and love working with them to find out what they want from the program long-term."

Virgin’s US partner Delta Airlines last month launched a SkyMiles Select subscription service, albeit one aimed at economy flyers For US$59 per year, this “travel benefits bundle” $US59 offers priority boarding and early access to overhead bin space, eight free vouchers for buying in-flight drinks (which Delta usually charges at US$9 for beer, wine and spirits) and “a limited-edition bag tag.”

“Customers have told us they want more ways to access benefits when travelling with Delta, and we know priority boarding is a valuable benefit as it gives customers more time to get settled before their flight,” says Delta spokesman Anthony Black. “We'll look to expand the types of benefits they can access based on feedback from this test.”

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

coastflyer1 Banned
coastflyer1 Banned

20 Jul 2019

Total posts 5

The lounges are already overcrowded as it is, bad idea for the sake of a little $.

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 23

I think the majority of people who would take this up (aka frequent flyers) already have lounge access so there wouldn't be much difference there.

On the other end of the specutrum, there would be an appeal to these (probably few) who buy entry so it would encouage them to sign up.

There are wide ranges of people to gain lounge entry, AFL Travel, credit cards, promos etc.

I see it more as a listed enticement to make the value look much better, it's probably 2 lounge passes.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Feb 2017

Total posts 23

Good Idea I am fine with that - Gold FF

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Feb 2017

Total posts 23

Yes the lounges are overcrowded and lacking exclusivity

Which the Ansett Golden Wing lounges had in spades !

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Dec 2016

Total posts 11

What is it about lounges that always becomes a focus, I have no problem with the lounge busy or not but think that a membership to get better benefits and be better rewarded is awesome. I have a number of hotel cards but my favourite is IHG which I pay for Ambassador status and love the extras that come with that.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 573

I have no real problem with this; in some ways lounge memberships such as Qantas Club and The Lounge are already examples of this in that you get some benefits usually associated with a higher status for a fee. My concern would be value for money as these bundled items can actually be poor value when you really look at them but that is always an individual's decision.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 303

Is this similar to what CX Charge? ie, Everyone can join Asia miles for free - be able to redeem miles, but Paid membership is required to join Marco Polo Club, to attain status levels and benefits? So even if you fly a lot, and don't pay, you don't get FF status?

This is actually a pretty good idea, apart from "lounge passes", Golds and Platinums don't need them unless it's to give away, but most of the other suggestions from VA make a lot of sense for the frequent flyer. The "points concierge" service could be really useful, ditto the WiFi discounts and early access to sales. I'd love to have seen what prices VA was polling for this, you'd have to think it would be at least $99 and maybe $199, any more than than could be hard to justify.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

03 Jun 2014

Total posts 8

I got the Velocity voice email last week and responded it needs to look at a style similar to Club Marriott/ IHG Ambassador/ Accor Plus as options of what benefits it could offer along with the possibility of adding a membership to one of those prorams as a benefit of the VA Offering. 2 Lounge passes isnt an attractive option to those already with status but those without it would be.

Here's a thought, and I know it's an unfamiliar one for Velocity staff--how about making tangible benefits improvements to the status tiers you have, rather than devaluing the proposition for your most loyal customers? The Velocity buyback means that VA has a greater vested stake in these benefits, which have not been refreshed in years, while we see partnerships whittled away and partner benefits eroded. Loyalty is a two way street, and exploring these options while Gold and Platinum benefits languish paints a very clear picture.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 246

I think it'll all come down to who they're targeting, (people who fly often enough to use these perks, but not so often they get status vs. status holders who get these perks anyway,) and the perks themselves.

IMHO, for the perks to be appealing there needs to be one that wows people first off, like domestic and overseas lounge access or priority boarding + priority bags. If it ends up with everything been 10% off this and that, or everything saying 'where available' it will be a miss-fire.

Another interesting point is that for some of the accommodation clubs, (IHG Ambassador, Accor Plus, Club Marriott etc.) offering a 10% discount is still around 5% less then they would've paid in commission to Booking.com or Expedia and a few are such vast empires now, that benefits can not always be standardised.

It'd be interesting to see once they announce this how it compares to some other clubs out there.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 24

I fly enough to become double platinum in the first 4 months of my year. What do I get ? I tried emailing John Borg a while ago to get VIP lounge access. Not good. My family spends maybe $50K every year in flights ( 2 people only ) and we Max out the discounts in the first few months ..... Whats in it for us type people ? Why I cant get VIP access i have no Idea.....

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 22

A decent lounge is important to me and Virgin's are not good and they're getting worse. Viz the long awaited one at Brisbane International. I guess there might be one born every day who would sign up.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Mar 2018

Total posts 9

But Ansett business class in the air was horrible. What's the point of giving with one hand and taking with the other.

bee
bee

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 7

I would like to see an improvement on stsatus credits. I was almost at the next level then lost a whole chunk of them taking me back to under 50. NOT Happy!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 39

Clearly Virgin is wanting to improve the customer experience. That won't happen unless Virgin staff have genuine empathy for the current level of service we fare-paying punters get. How to fix? Make all, I repeat ALL Virgin staff fly standard economy for next 6 months and have no VIP Lounge privileges (which I'm told many enjoy 'informally' when the lounge is a little empty). So, stop 'comping' VIP Lounge access to staff and, God forbid, perhaps occasionally comp a fare paying passenger so we can see what to aspire for.

That's how it's done in Casinos (and it works) !!!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 24

No I dont agree. Employees should get access. I travel often and like seeing them there ( in uniform ) . They create a professional ambiance. Also I also find that they do have empathy with the traveler. I see it many times through my commutes Perth-Sydney-Canberra- Melbourne. It may work in the casino but for very different reasons. I know as I have friends who work there and we are unable to enter the gaming floor with them.( they are not allowed - Part of the contract they sign ) . I like virgin- I travel virgin and 99% find the staff from lounge to cabin crew happy,professional,empathetic and fun. Unlike my experience with the other national icon.

20 May 2013

Total posts 4

This will undervalue platinum. The so-so lounges are already overcrowded, priority boarding queue as long as non-priority for some flights. Might be time to go back to QFF and work on lifetime Gold

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2014

Total posts 5

I fly a little each year but never gain enough SC to go up to the next level. I've been emailed numerous times by Virgin and answered multiple questions and or offered my two cents. One of these points being rewarding long term red level card holders with lounge access. I accept some people won't agree with my comments and I'm OK with that.

I think it's a great idea and hope VA do follow through with this idea. I'd pay to get some privileges

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Sep 2017

Total posts 25

I agree with comments so far, that the VA lounge is average at best and I am not so sure what the big deal is about giving someone access for free to the lounge when one already gets it by simply being Silver, Gold or Platinum member. What is the most tangible asset that is Frequent Flyer guests want is the ability to be able to redeem our points on upgrades especially on partner airline. There was talk of Virgin Atlantic jumping on board and allowing Velocity members be able to redeem their points for upgrades. That and also confirmation of the upgrades for Platinum members well in advance of 5 days window that Velocity has in place at the moment would be far better. If other partners such as SQ and EY jumped on board using VA's current format that only Freedom ticket holders who have Platinum or Gold membership, it would make Velocity membership far more valuable than Qantas's. Star Alliance already has it in place, so what is so revolutionary about doing it for Velocity members? And of course if the redemption rates are not exorbitantly high too...

Ability to earn points in more places and higher rate in First Class when you pay a premium over Business class, wouldn't go astray either.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 24

not silver.


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