TALKING POINT | There’s no denying that perks like priority check-in, airport lounge access and priority boarding make business travel more enjoyable for regular flyers, but are those privileges now too easy to obtain, given the many shortcuts now available for earning Velocity Gold frequent flyer status?
For instance, Velocity Gold takes 500 status credits to reach for the first time, and 400 status credits to retain for a further year – and traditionally, status credits were only earned from flying, with Velocity Gold status being a reward for those who travel more than most.
However, Velocity members can now pocket up to 120 bonus status credits each year simply by purchasing groceries and alcohol from Coles, Liquorland and First Choice Liquor, via the Coles Flybuys scheme.
Separately, American Express Velocity Platinum cardholders can net 100 bonus status credits each year when spending $50,000 or more on their card on anything at all – equal to a spend of just $481 per person per week when sharing the AMEX account with a partner or spouse.
Many Flybuys members and Coles Rewards Mastercard holders have also been offered ‘Explore Gold’ status over the past year: that’s three months of Velocity Gold perks, with only 80 status credits and one eligible Virgin Australia flight needed to stay at Gold for a further 12 months.
Added to that, American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders can be boosted straight to Velocity Gold for a year simply by converting their Membership Rewards points into Velocity points this month – or even Velocity Platinum for a year followed by a further 12 months of Velocity Gold for converting a higher number of points.
(While these same AMEX cardholders already enjoy unlimited Virgin Australia lounge access regardless of status as a benefit of their card, being Gold or Platinum does provide more flexibility when bringing guests into lounges, along with a host of other ‘priority’ perks.)
And, if not covered by any of that, Velocity’s generous ‘family pooling’ feature allows members to earn Velocity status credits when other people fly: up to one adult family member and up to four under-18 children at any one time, in fact, not to mention any bonus status credit promotions that pop up from time to time.
With so many paths and shortcuts now available to Velocity Gold, we’ve observed over the past year that Virgin Australia’s capital city lounges have become significantly busier at the times we’ve flown through, and that the airport ‘priority’ queues can sometimes now be as long as the general economy lines.
On the one hand, making Velocity Gold such an easy target does mean more people get to enjoy the benefits of status – but on the other, those who earn their wings by actually flying might question why buying groceries or using the right credit card should provide an easier path to their hard-earned benefits.
So we’re asking readers to have their say: should Virgin Australia make Velocity Gold status harder to achieve, or would you like to see the many 'status shortcuts' continue, even if fuller lounges and longer lines are the result? Share your opinion in the comment box below!