Virgin Australia hikes fees on Etihad Airways reward flights

By Chris C., June 7 2016
Virgin Australia hikes fees on Etihad Airways reward flights

Virgin Australia Velocity members will soon pay significantly more cash in conjunction with Etihad Airways flight bookings made using Velocity frequent flyer points.

For reservations made on and after June 18 2016, economy flights attract a new US$50 (A$68) ‘Etihad Airways Reward Seat Carrier Charge’, while business class tickets see an extra US$205 (A$279) added to the bill.

Using your Velocity points to fly in Etihad first class will set you back US$300 (A$408), and in all cases, these charges apply per passenger, per flight.

That means on a return first class trip from Australia to Europe via Abu Dhabi, you’d be stung US$1,200 (A$1,632) – or US$2.400 (A$3,264) for a couple – in addition to the taxes and charges already payable under today’s rates.

Reduced charges of US$5 in economy, US$20.50 in business class and US$30 in first class apply to infants not occupying their own seat, representing a 90% discount, although the full charges above apply to child passengers of all ages occupying their own seat, and to all adult travellers.

These new fees immediately follow an increase to the number of Velocity points needed to book an Etihad flight, rising from 187,500 to 203,000 in first class, from 125,000 to 139,000 in business class and from 62,500 to 75,000 in economy each way between Australia and Europe, which came into effect on June 1 2016.

Travellers can avoid the new ‘Etihad fee’ by booking their journey on or before June 17 2016, even if travelling after this date.

Reward flights booked on Virgin Australia’s other airline partners such as Singapore Airlines and Delta aren’t affected by this change, nor are flights operated by Virgin Australia, including between Australia and Abu Dhabi.

Also read: Virgin Australia tweaks Velocity Frequent Flyer scheme

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

Velocity is now becoming less and less rewarding. Six months a go this was not the case but with the recent changes the program is now much less lucrative.

I know in the last few weeks I have been very pessimistic about VA but with the recent changes to Velocity and the lesser services on some flights they are not putting themselves in a very good position. I know that making FF rewards more expensive won't make an airline collapse but if VA continue to do things like this I just cannot see them operating past 2023.

17 Feb 2015

Total posts 5

Wow- this is more or less a tax and surcharge hike to match QF/EK..

Other annoying this is this will now push all EY redemptions to over $50 in taxes / charges so will attract the $30pp credit card fee too. Even though there is no alternative offered (other than points) to pay for taxes on award redemption.


Air New Zealand - Airpoints

03 Apr 2013

Total posts 37

Dear Velocity, consumers have voted you to be program of the year with Freddie awards for 3yrs running for a good reason - no redemption surcharge. Thanks for the double devaluation this year. You have effectively eliminated a key redemption partner from your program. And now I will not respond to your annual appeal to vote for the program.

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

Your spot on- Lets hope that VA realise what they have done and try to do something to rectify it.

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

You're not your, my apologies

18 Mar 2016

Total posts 9

They should have at least made an announcement rather than try to sneak it in unnoticed...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 240

This kinda reminds me of how a few months ago I was looking at QF Reward Seats MEL to NYC and found my options somewhat pessimistic:

120,000 points + $1,300 in taxes and charges vs. $1,500 for a ticket out right.

Granted that is both return and rounded up/down and in economy, sometimes I think there must be some government regs against selling your scheme on the promise of free flights and then making it near impossible to get it. Sorry for the minor winge.

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 52

I wonder if Velocity had a choice, or, if this is just a EY imposed tax. Interesting timing with the addition of another potential shareholder at VA. Either way, I would hazzard a guess that VA or even Velocity had very little influence in the decision.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2012

Total posts 6

What really annoys me about this is how it compares to the EY Reward Seat charge:
Y - EY US$50 vs VA US$50

J - EY US$100 vs VA US$205

F - EY US$150 vs VA US$300 

It's basically double for anything but economy.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Aug 2012

Total posts 171

Get used to more of these sorts of announcements. VA is not profitable and they have to come back to the real world in certain areas like this.

They've achieved a critical mass of FF and are now clawing some margin back.

02 May 2016

Total posts 4

Agree to a point but it goes against the logic of rewarding your "loyal" frequent flyers. When the loyality is disgegarded with sneaky adjustments such as this it serves the purpose of driving that loyality elsewhere. 

15 Oct 2015

Total posts 6

Guess I will be using SQ for bookings, but how long before they impose a similar fee on VA to collect? Airline alliances are becoming like the EU!

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 191

virgin going down the hill as well-cannot keep up with the Arab's trimumvirats hence they have to do whatever their partner's say eg etihad's new policy like this one

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 139

They kept this rather quiet from the punters at the time. 

Having used VA's Etihad business-class service to the UK or IRE on points two years in a row - and on both occasions returned to BNE using QFF points on Cathay - that's the end of VA for me, as much as I dislike the current Qantas management.

It appears that VA has refused to absorb its airline partner's exorbitant charge - or part of it - and it really is exorbitant. 

As the charge appears to have emanated from Etihad, which presides over a really very disappointing airport at Abu Dhabi, which I've experienced perhaps a dozen times, it doesn't say much for them at all, in fact quite the reverse. 

Poor show Etihad and VA.

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