Virgin Australia frequent flyers can now use their Velocity points to book any seat on Tigerair Australia flights.
It's a new wrinkle to the relationship between Virgin and its low-cost sibling, and covers almost all aspects of a Tigerair booking including inflight meals, additional baggage and seat selection, although not travel insurance.
After visiting the Tigerair website and browsing for flights as usual, when it comes time to pay there’s now an option to use Velocity points in lieu of 'real' money, or in combination with a credit card payment or bank transfer (with a minimum payment of 3,100 points).
(Tigerair bookings using Velocity points can also be made by calling the Virgin Australia Membership Contact Centre, although additional booking fees may apply.)
The scheme sees each Velocity point valued at an equivalent of 0.65 cents, and is intended to offer an additional way for Virgin's frequent flyers to burn their points – either converting a low points balance into a single Tigerair flight, or taking the entire family on an affordable holiday.
Tigerair vs Velocity: how the fares compare
In many cases, the number of points you'll part with to book a Tigerair flight is actually higher than that needed for a comparable journey with Virgin Australia.
Pitted head-to-head on the popular Sydney-Melbourne route, Velocity members can currently book a Virgin Australia economy reward flight for either 10,200 points all-inclusive or 6,900 points plus $21.11 in taxes, fees and charges.
On the other hand, a $65 Tigerair 'Light' flight with only carry-on baggage converts to an even 10,000 Velocity points, while including 20kg of checked baggage and selecting a standard seat pushes that to 13,231 Velocity points.
When Tigerair fares are higher – typically closer to departure – a $175 one-way Light fare on the same route becomes 26,924 Velocity points, or 30,154 points with a 20kg checked bag and a standard seat.
At that level, we'd instead suggest using 27,600 Velocity points with a payment of $42.22 to fly return in Virgin Australia business class, rather than one-way in Tigerair economy.
Obviously, the earlier ahead you book a Tigerair fare the cheaper it'll be and so the fewer Velocity points it'll cost you, while pouncing on special sale fares will also deliver better value in the points-per-ticket ratio.
Virgin Australia + Tigerair
The new tie-up brings Virgin Australia and its low-cost sidekick one step closer while remaining at arm’s length, as Velocity members cannot earn points on Tigerair flights nor can eligible guests use Virgin Australia lounges when flying with Tigerair.
Qantas takes a different approach with its own low-cost airline Jetstar by allowing travellers to earn points on eligible Jetstar Plus and Max fares and to redeem them with the airline at rates lower than when flying with Qantas proper.
Gold and Platinum frequent flyers plus Qantas Club members are also provided with lounge access prior to Jetstar flights, although in airports like Sydney and Melbourne, passengers much switch between terminals to make use of this benefit.
Virgin Australia bought Tigerair Australia for the princely sum of $1 in 2014 when the airline was incurring heavy losses and has begun using its new wings to better-compete on leisure routes in place of Virgin Australia, such as from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to Bali (Denpasar).
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