Virgin Australia: one million points to fly Sydney-Los Angeles..?

By Chris Chamberlin, September 13 2016

Why does the Virgin Australia website ask me to pay one million Velocity Frequent Flyer points to book a business class flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, one-way?

This is a questions we’re frequently asked by readers hoping to use their Velocity points on a flight to the United States, only to find the Virgin Australia website is quoting more than 10 times as many points as expected.

For example, a one-way business class flight from Sydney to LA should cost you 95,500 Velocity points plus a small payment to cover government taxes and fees.

But what often appears instead is an option to pay a staggering 1,017,000 points to secure that same one-way ticket – or a combination of 997,000 points and $129.67 in fees.

The answer here is simple: Virgin Australia offers two main kinds of flight options when using your frequent flyer points: ‘Reward Seat’, and ‘Any Seat’.

‘Reward Seats’ are those coveted tickets which come at the most favourable rates (such as for 95,500 Velocity points on this route), but where availability is strictly limited.

Alternatively, ‘Any Seat’ allows you book, quite literally, any seat on any Virgin Australia flight using your points – and instead of being charged at that much lower rate, your points are used to ‘buy’ a paid ticket at face value as in the screenshot above.

You’ll have also noticed two ‘sold out’ columns in that earlier screenshot with no further description. That’s where the great value ‘Reward Seats’ will appear when available on a particular flight, so keep searching and they might just appear when you want them to:

Again, the words to look for are ‘Business Reward’ – if the box you’re clicking says anything else, you’re likely paying too much.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia 'The Business', Sydney-Los Angeles

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

12 Aug 2014

Total posts 9

They don't exist on long-haul flights. Literally can't find one at any point in a 6 month period.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jan 2016

Total posts 61

Agreed,  availablity on Syd - Lax is awful. If it was not for conversion to Krisflyer there would be no value at all in holding velocity points. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jul 2012

Total posts 116

... and so it is on SYD-AUH flights.

The "Rewards" part of Velocity Rewards is no longer working...

Virgin Australia Platinum

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 69

Thats unfortunate you arent able to find any availability. Ive actually had no problem securing seats. I think they key is that you can only find availability if you are flying only on VA metal. When you select a city different from Los Angeles requiring partner airline metal, availability disappears.

I just booked Business Reward seats yesterday between Sydney and Los Angeles. And I just checked right now, there still is Business Reward availability for the outbound. And this is just in the next few months.

And Ive found several dates where Premium Economy Reward are available as well. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Jan 2016

Total posts 5

Agree I Searched for flights to Europe 10 months out and couldn't find anything. I think Etihad and Singapore Airlines have closed their redemption flights to Velocity. Better off getting points directly with them or the opposition.  

Etihad - Etihad Guest

02 Jul 2015

Total posts 17

Chris, do you know if there has been a reduction in Economy Reward Seat availability on the VA codeshare flights with EY and SQ?  Earlier this year I was able to find them at relatively short notice but now I am struggling to get anything.

This isn't something I've looked into, sorry Victor.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

Hi Chris

Did you put this question to Virgin? I'd be very interested to hear their responce. Like previous comments, I periodically look for availability right out to the maximum 330 day range of fares being released and have never, ever seen a reward seat avaialble. I too am convinced they simply do not exist. This really changes the value proposition of the velocity program. With only two international destinations, and zero business upgrade availability, it somewhat renders the points useless.

Hi Riley, if you have specific questions for Virgin Australia, your best bet is to contact Virgin Australia directly.

Re: long-haul business class reward seats, there certainly seem to be fewer available than before on Virgin Australia's LA flights, although when I was grabbing screenshots for this article the business class reward popped up on the second date I searched (the first being the 'sold out' one), so it wasn't too difficult to find.

(It's greyed out in my screenshot simply because I don't have enough points to book it.)

If you're searching for LA flights, try searching from both Brisbane and Sydney and see what pops up, as sometimes availability can be different with and without connecting flights (due to availability or lack thereof on the domestic leg.)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

Yep I posed a similar question to these in the Q&A a few days ago, concur with everyone else here that was one of the biggest things keeping me with velocity but now you basically cant use them unless you transfer to krisflyer may start accruing elsewhere.

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 53

It's a wonder award seat ticket rules are so flexible. They're basically refundable for a fee, so it incentivises early booker to just book and sit on it. I think the most frustrating thing when it comes to award seats is as member bases grow and points balances grow through credit card accruel and other means, their scarcity becomes even more of an issue. A lot of work has been done to increase fees and taxes imposed with premium classes it seems but yield foregone compared to a regular ticket is obviously too significant for airlines to release more inventory. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Sep 2013

Total posts 26

I got one LA to Sydney that I booked about 3 months out for 95K took it while of searching and I was flexible with my dates but got one in the end. For comparison Qantas for the same period I could not find anything...


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