Virgin Australia: status match for Qantas' high-flying public servants

By David Flynn , June 4 2014
Virgin Australia: status match for Qantas' high-flying public servants

Virgin Australia is mounting a renewed assault on Qantas for the hearts and wallets of Australia's lucrative government travel sector with a status match campaign to lure top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyers into its fold.

The promotion allows Australian government employees holding Silver, Gold and Platinum/Platinum One members of the Qantas loyalty program to immediately enjoy the equivalent status and associated perks in Virgin's Velocity Frequent Flyer scheme without taking a single flight.

The lure, of course, is that providing status-based comforts makes it less traumatic for Government employees to fly with Virgin Australia, effectively unlocking the 'golden handcuffs' which can keep frequent flyers allied to Qantas.

Typical perks include access to Virgin Australia lounges, priority check-in and boarding, preferential seating and additional checked baggage allowance.

Virgin also sees this as an opportunity to help travellers discover some of Velocity's unique features such as family pooling of points and status credits, and complimentary elite status with Hilton or IHG hotels.

The offer is available only to federal government employees (not state or local government), and while it ends on August 31, 2014 the gratis status lasts for a full year.

How to apply for your Virgin Australia status match?

1. Grab a copy of your Qantas Frequent Flyer membership card or activity statement showing your current membership status with Qantas.

2. Email this from your Government email address (sorry, no Hotmail or Gmail accounts allowed!) to [email protected] with the subject line 'GOVT - Status Match' followed by your Velocity membership number.

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David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Aug 2012

Total posts 24

I appreciate that Virgin is still in the process of carving our their place in the market, and in most respects they've done a great job. I am Platinum with both Qantas and Velocity, and I've been at that tier with Virgin since their rebranding.

I find this move questionable as the Whole of Australian Government travel policy means the cheapest fare of the day will always be the winner. They're handing out shiny cards that most of us had to work to attain to a group who have little if no say over which carrier they use.

I know that for at least one major department, lounge access is included with every Virgin fare which mitigates the requirement to have status anyway. In addition, I know government employees who are Platinum members that have been told  in the SYD lounge that they can't use the 'fly ahead' benefit because they won't change a government fare without prior approval. 

I think that Virgin giving away status  in such a way is the antithesis of loyalty, particularly to a demographic without discretionary spending. There's no bitterness from me, though I think the time has come where I'm happy to step down to Gold with VA next status cycle.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1256

Not sure that 'cheapest fair of the day' is the only criteria... in any case, your traveller for work also travels for leisure. If they also have status with VA it may bring them into the equation.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Aug 2012

Total posts 24

You're right that its not only the cheapest fare of the day, it's called the 'lowest practical fare', as outlined on the WoAG website. The issue from my point of view that not only is this is an awkward target for such an offer, an offer of this nature is defined by the APS itself as a gift or benefit. (https://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/aps-values-and-code-of-conduct-in-practice/gifts-and-benefits) 

Personally I am of the opinion that this is a misguided idea that further devalues independently obtained status through orthodox means. 

I do wish Virgin well and I agree with your point that leisure travel is more comfortable with options opened up by having more than one FF program, these are just my thoughts, that's all :)

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Despite the "cheapest fare" policy there are options for the savvy public servant who wishes to choose his own airline. 

For instance, the cheapest fare of the *day* between most Australian cities is usually on Jetstar. But the travel policy states you need the cheapest fare within 90 minutes of your desired departure time. So most people will play around with their "desired departure time" in order to find a window with no Jetstar flights.

Virgin fares, meanwhile, tend to be slightly higher than Qantas fares, for non-flexible. But flexible Virgin fares are much lower than Qantas fares, so if you want to fly Virgin you simply need to come up with a good reason why you need the flexibility and -- bam, you're also looking at double status credits, sweet!

I know very few public servants who don't almost invariably fly on their own airline of choice.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

Tax dollars hard at work

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Indeed. Though it must be said that at least in the particular corner of the Public Service which I used to occupy before I got made redundant, people at surprisingly senior levels still never get to fly business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

Nor should they be unless the flight is longer than 10 hours

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

And if the flight is 24 hours? Should someone on $160K salary be stuck in economy?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

No, they would be in business class as 24 is greater than 10, not that difficult. What someone being on $160K has to do with getting business or not is beyond me, sounds like the public sector is taking the p*ss even more than everyone thinks! 

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

My point is that in my particular corner of the public service everyone (except a few extremely senior people) flies economy even on 24-hour flights. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Apr 2014

Total posts 35

Interesting does anyone want to arrive in a overcrowded lounge and the platinum line up on the gate longer than the normal comuter line up ,  virgin has lost its cache and exclusivity , me to back to my qantas gold lifetime,  will be focus on reenginering my platinum satus with an airline that offer its service in return ...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 67

Karma

QantasFF Platinum

16 Feb 2012

Total posts 153

Could this merely be a Virgin PR idea? I doubt their take up would be all that grand, let alone the status-matched-members accruing enough points to retain status. But I suppose Virgin needs a clap for trying!

Also does VelocityFF have any plans to get an equivalent status offering to QFF Platinum One?

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Why not? They've had success in the past with status matches. People might as well take it up, it doesn't cost 'em anything. And there's no harm in persuading customers to try your product, some of 'em will inevitably like it. 

QFF Gold QC gold

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 56

The "harm" to VA is that it devalues their offering to FF. It's a slap in the face of loyal FF when you offer the same rewards to people who, possibly, have never flown with them before.

Airlines have to be careful how often they do this and should only do so for specific reasons such as rapid expansion of lounges. Yes VA did that hence why they offered status match but I think they're doing it too often. They're getting greedy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 122

Does anyone know if VA will accept those who have previously status matched? Also, any ideas if a Department of Ed email will work (ie: .det.edu.au)?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Dec 2012

Total posts 41

Yes, to the first question. Don't know to the second. .gov.au address has been successful (not for myself I am already a BIS VA Plat)

Qantas - Platinum

04 Jun 2014

Total posts 16

Lets say I was able to create a government email address and apply to this.... How far do we think the checks would go before I got the Velocity Platinum card in the mail?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jun 2014

Total posts 3

You would need to spoof a .gov.au email address and Virgin send you a confirmation email that would bouce.  If you changed the reply to email address it may work but you would need to dome social engineering and bypass the virgin spam filters as you will get a SPF fail.

04 May 2014

Total posts 13

I tried it (Federal Govt agency employee), initial response from VA was that this was only open to Federal Govt employees.

I replied advising that my employer was a Federal Govt agency, and received a very prompt response that the offer is limited only to organisations that access WoAG arrangements.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jun 2014

Total posts 3

I signed up during the week.  After years as a Qantas P-FF, I am loathed to start at the bottom again with Virgin. I had a virgin Gold card under the old scheeme (pre rebranding) and it was worthless.  Virgin had no idea about customer service for business travlers back then and we were just herdered around with the tourist travellers.  I will give virgin a try but keen to keep the status with Qantas

What Qantas really has over virgin is the concept of life Silver and Gold. As I am half way to Gold, verry keen to keep going.  It is a powerful incentive tostay with Qantas!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

As a Platinum with both Qantas and Virgin (who status matched back in the original open offer, and has retained Platinum since), it seems illogical to me how a limited status match promotion is 'a slap in the face' to current Platinums.

Under such promotions, you have to qualify by having a much harder to earn status level with Qantas (retaining VA Platinum is fairly easy, QF Platinum/P1 takes a bit of effort!), and even then you only get a one year free ride (you don't keep it if you don't use it). If they don't re-qualify on their own merits, then they are hardly in the lounge or in the priority queue - and if they do re-qualify then they have just as much right as me to these services.

Seems to me that it costs VA little to make these offers, but offers upside in potential future business.

And, as has been already said, the WoG BFoD policy isn't "cheapest fare" and often reasonable choice remains with public servant over flights they take for work (and certainly, they can pick what they like when travelling privately).

Further, due to historical precedents, airline status offers to public servants (and politicans) aren't considered 'inappropriate inducements' under the APS governance framework. This may have something to do with the large number of QF Chairman's Lounge members amongst the APS' leadership (not to mention pollies), who don't make rules against their interests lol.

Status matching is nothing new, and if it didn't work, hotels/airlines wouldn't regularly be offering it

23 Nov 2012

Total posts 24

They did this a few years back, they matched Emirates Skywards tier level.  I used this to achieve velocity silver and was converted to Virgin!

17 Jun 2014

Total posts 1

Anyone know how to status match if not a gov't employee? I'm a (disgruntled) QF Platinum FF looking to jump ship, with an average of one return flight a week for the last three years, but Virgin rejected my request yesterday... this absolutely amazed me!

"Whilst we do not offer status matching, the Velocity Frequent Flyer program offers a lot of generous benefits including family pooling. Family Pooling allows you to Pool all of your families Points or Points and Status Credits into one account, making it much easier to achieve Gold or Platinum membership."

Thanks, but my family aren't regular travellers, and when they do only burn through my FF points! ;-) I don't see how this is a great carrot! 


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