Your guide to Virgin Australia’s new Business Flyer rewards program

Virgin’s fresh business loyalty program offers upfront savings on flights plus Velocity Gold status and discounted lounge access.

By David Flynn, April 5 2022
Your guide to Virgin Australia’s new Business Flyer rewards program

Virgin Australia will challenge Qantas for the hearts and wallets of business travellers with the launch of its new Business Flyer loyalty program.

With flight discounts, double-dipping on points and complimentary Velocity Gold membership, the scheme will target Australia’s small-to-medium enterprise (SME) market.

And it’s a massive market, covering self-employed solo businesses to companies with up to 199 employees: the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 99.8% of the nation’s businesses are SMEs, totalling two million firms.

No surprise, then, that Virgin Australia wants as much of their travel budget as it can spirit away from incumbent Qantas.

Today’s launch of Virgin Australia Business Flyer follows Virgin’s slashing of baseline business class fares to as low as $299 on key routes such as the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne ‘triangle’, and ahead of the April 20 launch of the airline’s new Beyond loyalty offering, which will replace invite-only The Club.

“With the additional airfare discounts we are offering under the Business Flyer loyalty program, on top of Velocity Points earn for businesses, it’s going to be very hard for any business owner to look past Virgin Australia when choosing a domestic airline partner,” says Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

Promising the airline would continue to “fiercely compete for our fair share of our heartland customers,” Hrdlicka added “we know that’s important for small to medium-sized businesses and corporates who are emerging from the pandemic more conscious of value provided by their partners than ever before.”

To further bolster its appeal to business travellers, Virgin Australia says it will increase the number of flights between Sydney and Melbourne – the country’s busiest route – "during peak business hours" to up to 35 flights per day from the start of July 2022 – the highest level of service frequencies offered since March 2020.

Sydney-Brisbane will also see up to 20 daily flights, with up to 13 daily services between Brisbane and Melbourne, plus up to 11 daily on services between Adelaide and Melbourne.

Business travel rebounds

Hrdlicka told Executive Traveller she was “impressed with how business travel is returning.”

“Big business is back, and growing week on week, well ahead of schedule on what we had estimated”, while small to medium-sized businesses “are on their way to being fully back.”

In both cases, the rebound was driven by the need to rebuild and strengthen in-person business relationships after the past two years kept most people grounded

“Relationships are perishable assets,” she observed. “You have to invest to keep them healthy, and keeping them healthy requires travel.”

So what does Virgin Australia Business Flyer bring to the SME dogfight?

Similar to the competing Qantas Business Rewards program, companies with a Virgin Australia Business Flyer account can earn Velocity Points for every dollar spent on flights, on top of Velocity Points and Status Credits earned by the individual flyer (those Velocity Points earned by the business can then be transferred to any personal Velocity account).

Complimentary Velocity Gold status

Once a company spends at least $2,000 on Virgin Australia flights in the first three months of joining, they’ll receive complimentary Velocity Pilot Gold membership for any two nominated employees, unlocking Velocity Gold benefits such as lounge access, Fly Ahead on selected fare types, a higher checked baggage allowances plus priority check-in and boarding.

And keeping that Velocity Gold card on a rolling 12-month basis will be a doddle: Business Flyer members will need to take just one eligible Virgin Australia flight and earn at least 80 Velocity Status Credits during the first three months of their membership year.

That’s done with a single business class flight between Melbourne and Brisbane; a Sydney-Melbourne or Sydney-Brisbane return business class trip; or one return Economy Flex trip from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Perth and back.

All companies belonging to Virgin Australia Business Flyer can also enjoy a $379 discounted rate for Virgin Australia Lounge Membership.

Flight discounts in economy, business class

After signing up to the program, which is free to join, Virgin Australia Business Flyer members can immediately tap into discounts on flights through one of the three Business Flyer loyalty tiers

Across all three tiers there’s a standing 4% off Flex Economy fares and 6% off Business Class fares.

Virgin Australia Business Flyer Tier 1 covers SMEs with an annual flight spend up to $9,999, which earn 1 Velocity Point per $1 spent on eligible flights.

Virgin Australia Business Flyer Tier 2 covers SMEs with an annual flight spend from $10,000 to $49,999, and earn 1.5 Velocity Points per $1 spent on eligible flights.

Virgin Australia Business Flyer Tier 3 covers SMEs with an annual flight spend from $50,000 to $300,000, and earn 2 Velocity Points per $1 spent on eligible flights.

The airline promises Tier 2 and Tier 3 members can look forward to “More exclusive benefits and offers” as the Business Flyer program evolves.

Virgin Australia Business Flyer replaces the airline’s Accelerate SME rewards scheme, with Accelerate members being automatically transitioned into Virgin Australia Business Flyer.

Virgin says that former Accelerate customers will receive bonus Velocity Points for their business, for those members who have travelled between from 1 January to 28 February 2022; and an instant ‘tier jump’ to reflect their last 12 months of travel spend with Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia Business Flyer vs Qantas Business Rewards

So how does Virgin Australia Business Flyer stack up against Qantas Business Rewards for the small-to-medium sized business?

Joining fee: Virgin Australia is trumpeting that Business Flyer is free to join, compared to the $89.50 sign-up fee for Qantas Business Rewards – although at the time of writing his is currently being waived. 

Fare discounts: Virgin Australia Business Flyer offers a flat 4% off flexible economy tickets and 6% off business class across all three membership tiers.

Qantas Business Rewards starts at 6% off domestic flexible economy and business class seats, with 5% on international flexible economy, premium economy and business seats; further discounts kick in on a (potentially confusing) fare class basis at QBR Level 2 and Level 3.

Qantas Business Rewards discounts also extend to international flights – handy for business trips to Asia, the USA and London for example.

Lounge membership: Virgin Australia Business Flyer reduces the cost of Virgin Australia Lounge membership to $379 per year on a per-employee basis, versus $420 for Qantas Club (which also has a $99 joining fee).

However it’s worth noting there are far more Qantas Clubs than Virgin Australia lounges dotted around the country, especially in regional cities and towns; Qantas Club membership includes access to selected overseas airport lounges;’ and Qantas Club comes with many perks that extend beyond just lounge access.

Gold status: both Qantas Business Rewards and Virgin Australia Business Flyer offer complementary Gold status with each airline.

Virgin’s Velocity Pilot Gold is available to all Virgin Australia Business Flyer members, while the Qantas Gold Tier Accelerator is restricted to Qantas Business Rewards Level 3 members; and Virgin provides two Velocity Pilot Gold memberships, while Qantas hands out just one Qantas Gold Tier Accelerator application.

It’s also easier to retain Gold status for a full year with Virgin Australia Business Flyer: you need to earn just 80 Velocity status credits during your first three months, compared to 200 Qantas status credits.

In Qantas’ favour, the airline’s membership of the Oneworld alliance makes Qantas Gold a more globally-minded status as its perks extend across all Oneworld airlines. 

Membership tiers: Virgin Australia Business Flyer sets its tier thresholds based on your annual flight spend, while Qantas Business Rewards are calculated against the number of Qantas Business Rewards points you earn per year. This makes Virgin’s approach far easier to understand and work with. 

Points earning: Virgin Australia Business Flyer lets your company earn 1-2 Velocity Points per $1 spent on base airfares, depending on your membership level; Qantas follows a far more complex formula where the number of Qantas Business Rewards points earned on each flight is determined by the amount of Qantas Points accrued by the person travelling.

Additional reporting by Matt Lennon

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 779

Not a bad deal just put in Sydney to Brisbane in business, price came back at $282.76. As a platinum member I will also pick up 2827 points, I can’t see Qantas matching that even if I asked them nicely. I did a search on Qantas and it was $900.00 for business seat and $492.00 for an economy seat.  If VA also offered bulk buys on ticket (like the good old days) buy 20 Business Class ticket for use anytime on any spare seat I think all the loyalist Qantas flyers at my company would jump onboard quick smart who wouldn’t swap economy for business.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

There is a bit of a 'down side' to this generosity by VA.  With only eight (8) business seats on the 737, I predict they'll fill quickly, which is great for VA.  But I hope that, on those flights when Business Class is full and Platinum members are seated in Economy-X (rows 3-5), they at least offer a complimentary glass of the good stuff.  

The problem at the moment is they don't have enough business seats at the time I want to fly.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 225

This has always been the case- the product is very similar between the airlines, status points, aircraft, J seat, lounge, FF points, and not acknowledged enough is that the VA product is significant cheaper than Qantas - mostly only 40% of the Qantas price - and that is surely a win in any valid comparison as you have found.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jun 2020

Total posts 14

Qantas program is better no minimum spend. Virgin asks for $20,000. Not every small business can do that. I'm platinum but the accelerate program us useless.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 77

@Daco 

Yes, this used to be the case. Have you tried applying again recently? I found the entry level requirements to get in the door rather more relaxed now.

As a small business myself, I was in the same boat. Applied a few years ago and didn't have success. The bouncer on the door blocked me.

Tried again after reading this article and got in straight away. Worth a shot.

Although I am travelling more now than I used to, it's still hard to hit $20k. 

I've also been a QF Business Rewards member for a number of years, although I always prefer Virgin anyway. QF are smart enough to realise that even getting loyalty from a small sole trader is a worthy investment overall.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

The $20,000 spend was the hurdle spend to get an annual, lump sum rebate.  But since then, they've swapped out a 'rebate' for a discount (b/w 4% to 6%) from the RRP for 'Joe Public' buying a fare on the Virgin web site.   It works well by my business (5 FT employees and 6 contractors who's flights are my cost).    

Have to say, Virgin has once again trumped Qantas in value here, and Business Flyer is much easier to understand when it comes to the tier structure and discounts. I was shifting all my flying to VA anyway based on the much lower fares, especially the new business class ones, so this is a nice thick layer of icing on my very small business cake!

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 225

The discount of the J and Y fares between the competing airlines SME programs. even a small differential of difference between Qantas and Virgin is irrelevant with the fact that the starting fares in Y and J are about 33-50% on Virgin compared to what Qantas offers on all routes. Virgin is a win all round - this just ices the cake for all and further clinches the deal. 

Rxm
Rxm

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 62

Comparing the perks between Qantas and Virgin is all well and good but you should point out currently Qantas does not honour many of its status perks with the ongoing excuse of the pandemic. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

" . . . and an instant ‘tier jump’ to reflect their last 12 months of travel spend with Virgin Australia".

Hmmm, with Covid-19 lockdowns my own travel in the past 12 months has been ra-ther limited (just getting back into the swing of things from next week  -  in J-class).  

06 Apr 2022

Total posts 1

It’s unclear whether companies that are moved from accelerate to Business rewards are also eligible for the 2 x pilot gold program? Has anyone seen this confirmed or not? I’ve tried searching on the site itself as well with no luck

Hopefully at some point we can book overseas flights, hotels and hire cars on the business portal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2020

Total posts 8

The straw that broke the camel's back.

Friday 8th April was not a great day to be travelling with any domestic airline.

I am a business traveller and have recently flown 3 times with Virgin (my 3rd choice airline moving up to #2).  They were begining to do the basics reliably at a reasonably competitive price.

My mid morning flight out was 45 minutes late, but the flight experience itself was (mostly) as advertised and you could buy items from the trolley to eat and drink (but not tea or coffee as MEL to HBA "is too short".)  I wondered if this was genuine or for staff convenience?

On the way back the flight was over an hour late (with at least a 30 minute warning).  The inbound was turned around quickly (which has a consequence).  

As I scanned my boarding pass it failed.  Instead of my row 6 seat I was bumped to row 28.  I confess I was a little miffed - I travel too much to sit next to the rear toilets, but a busy night across Australia, and the plane was lightly loaded, so for weight rebalancing reasons I drew the short straw.  On it's own - suck it up.

The team leader/CSM? apologised on PA for the later than scheduled flight.  Then the Captain or First Officer also apollogised for the inconvenience.  Here's the kicker..... Then Virgin staff SHOWED US HOW SORRY they were.  After hanging around an airport late in the evening for a couple of hours (which doesn't have a VA lounge), they announced that there would be no food or drinks service (except water) - because the nasty Food Partner had not put an eftpos machine on board (with 4 cabin attendants, surely one of them would check that, or perhaps VA could have a better process?)

When things go wrong, make it right.  This crew just hid and had a quiet social time while we customers who were a bit thirsty and by now hungry had to swing.  Also last a heard this is a key part of their revenue model.

Virgin could have let us pay cash (rounded up) or be comped for their muck-up.  Just when Virgin were looking like you can trust them to deliver, the mean Jayne factor has surfaced it's head again - clearly the staff have no ability to make decisions (or perhaps they are just too scared to?).  And there is little to no customer experience focus, just as their is no sincerity in their "apology".

Bye Bye


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Your guide to Virgin Australia’s new Business Flyer rewards program