One thing that Virgin Australia didn't trumpet loudly enough this morning is that it quietly boosted its points-earning bonuses to match those of Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Previously, Virgin only offered 25% and 50% bonus to silver and gold frequent flyers, respectively, while Qantas offered a more generous 50%, 75% and 100% bonus to its silver, gold and platinum frequent flyers.
Under the relaunched Virgin Australia Velocity Rewards program, the bonuses will now apply at the same rate -- 50%, 75% and 100% bonus for silver, gold and platinum members.
However, unlike Qantas Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia is even offering points earning bonuses for spending with travel partners such as car hire companies, car parks and insurers. The companies included are Hertz, Europcar, Thrifty, HotelClub, Allianz Global Assistance, Airport Parking, Brunel Limousines, Blue Holidays and Cruisepilot.
The downside to Virgin's scheme is that one of its international partners, Etihad, is still offering the lower points bonuses -- 25% and 50% for silver and gold/platinum members, respectively. Qantas, on the other hand, provides consistent bonuses across all QF coded flights, even if they are not on Qantas aircraft.
Even better than Qantas?
Now that Qantas and Virgin Australia have the same points earning bonuses for silver/gold/platinum frequent flyers, you might think their earning rates would be equivalent.
However, that's actually not the case, because of the way points are calculated under the two different programs:
- Qantas issues points for all flights based on mileage flown - 1 point per mile, with a minimum 1,000 points no matter how short the trip is.
- However, Qantas only gives the silver/gold/platinum bonus points on the actual mileage, not on top of the minimum 1,000 points.
- So, for example, for a Sydney to Melbourne flight of 439 miles, the basic earnings are 439 points, plus (for a platinum member) another 439 points -- totalling 878 points. That's still less than 1,000 points, so Qantas rounds it up to 1,000 points. But that means everyone, including silver/gold/platinum members only gets 1,000 points for a Sydney to Melbourne trip.
- Virgin, meanwhile, issues points for domestic flights based on dollars spent - 5 points per dollar. (For international flights, it's done by mileage like Qantas.)
- So, if you spent $120 on a ticket from Sydney to Melbourne, Velocity would earn a standard 600 points, plus (for a platinum member) another 600 points -- for a total of 1,200 points.
As you can see, Virgin's points bonuses are true multipliers of the points you earn, whereas for short trips, Qantas' points bonuses may have no effect at all.