EXCLUSIVE | Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer members will earn status credits at new rates from early next year in changes favouring flyers on the more expensive fares, but which cut status credits on the lowest-priced tickets by up to 50%.
On some domestic routes, passengers on flexible business class journeys will now earn more than 11 times as many status credits as those on the cheapest fares, who’ll pick up as few as five status credits on some flights.
Here’s what you need to know about these new rates, based on how far you usually fly.
Flights up to 750 miles, such as Sydney-Melbourne
On Virgin Australia’s shortest domestic flights, passengers currently earn 40 status credits on all business class fares, 20 status credits on flexible economy tickets and 10 status credits on all discount economy bookings.
Come January 30 2017, business class earnings are boosted to 50 status credits on Business Saver fares and a higher 55 status credits on all other business class tickets, while flexible economy earn rates also improve from 20 to 25 status credits on the airline’s new Freedom fares.
But rather than one earning rate for ‘discount economy’ tickets, Virgin Australia is splitting this into two different rates – one for the mid-range Elevate fares and another for the lowest Getaway tickets.
Book an Elevate fare on these routes and you’ll pull in 15 status credits, up from 10 at present, but book a Getaway ticket instead and you’ll earn a measly 5 status credits.
For passengers in the cheap seats, that cuts your status credit haul in half compared to today's figures.
Flights of 751-1,500 miles, such as Brisbane-Melbourne
Book a business class ticket on these journeys and you’ll currently earn 60 status credits, with flexible economy returning 30 status credits and discount economy serving up 15 status credits.
Come late January, passengers on Business Saver fares continue to earn 60 status credits: but pay for a higher-priced business class journey and you’ll earn a higher 70 status credits instead.
Down the back, flexible economy (Freedom) continues to deliver 30 status credits, while an Elevate fare will now net you 20 status credits, also an improvement.
But book the lowest-cost Getaway tickets and you’ll earn only 10 status credits.
Flights over 1,500 miles, such as Sydney-Perth
Flying east-to-west or on some of Virgin Australia’s other long flights like Brisbane-Darwin currently returns 80 status credits in business class, 40 status credits in flexible economy and 20 status credits in discount economy.
Under the new system, earn rates on Business Saver fares improve to 90 status credits, while higher Business tickets deliver an even-higher 105 status credits.
Freedom flexible economy fares see a similar increase to 45 status credits, with Elevate fares promising 30 status credits.
Following the trend, Getaway fares will earn fewer status credits than today’s most heavily-discounted tickets, offering just 15 status credits as opposed to 20.
[Click the table above to enlarge it.]
There’s no change to the number of status credits earned on Virgin Australia international flights which retain the current system and earning rates, except on L-type fares which drop from flexible economy to discount economy on Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi flights.
Flights taken on partner airlines are also unaffected and will continue to earn status credits at the current rates.
What it means for Silver, Gold, Platinum flyers
As status credits are used to achieve (or retain) Silver, Gold and Platinum status in the Velocity Frequent Flyer program, these changes make that chase considerably easier for passengers who spend more, and considerably harder for those who spend less.
For example, a Velocity Gold member could secure their status for another year simply by taking two return business class trips from Sydney to Perth on the higher-level Business tickets, with no other flying necessary.
But for travellers shuttling around the country on short flights and the least-expensive fares, it would now take 100 flights in a 12-month period to reach Velocity Gold for the first time, as opposed to 50 flights under today’s rates.
That’s the difference between taking one return trip every fortnight (or around four flights a month) and needing to take one return trip every week in order to secure Gold frequent flyer status and perks such as lounge access and priority boarding.
On longer international flights, moving L fares from flexible to discount economy also means Velocity Gold and Platinum members won’t be able to use points to upgrade from the same – instead only being possible from tickets in the highest-priced Y, B, H and K tickets.
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT