Virgin Australia has shared the results of research into what Australians say they want from a frequent flyer program, and to be honest, it's a bit of a mixed bag.
There are some interesting findings: that while than nine million Australians are members of a frequent flyer scheme, some 80 percent of these "are unsure as to exactly how many frequent flyer points they have".
Among passengers who redeem points for flights, 71 percent prefer to use them for longer international flights, with 19 percent favouring shorter flights. (We imagine that spare ten percent is a "don't know".)
A full 14 percent of people surveyed preferred to earn status credits over points, with 71 percent more eager for points.
The poll also reports that "when faced with different payment options, as many as 61% of frequent flyer scheme members are more likely to pay with a credit card in order to earn points."
We'll breeze past some totally unsurprising 'news' that pooling points and status credits with family members and being able to book guaranteed reward seats were the "most appealing ways to improve frequent flyer schemes". How lucky that a survey commissioned by Virgin Australia happened to single out a few unique features of its own Velocity scheme!
What stood out for us, and we imagine it'll also shock most frequent flyers, is the observation that 43 percent of people surveyed said that non-flight rewards -- retail purchases like toasters, luggage, gadgets and assorted other items -- are the most appealing aspect of their frequent flyer scheme, while only 50 percent said that flight rewards were the most important for them.
We imagine that's because Virgin Australia "canvassed the opinions of a broad cross-section of Australians". (The research was carried out on 6 October 2011, with a reasonable sample size of 1510 respondents aged 18-64 across Australia.)
That methodology would mean that no extra weight was given to the opinions of someone flying in business class between Sydney and Perth several times a week than to a grandmother from Dubbo who flew to London once for Christmas.
Frequent travellers know that trading your points for products is appalling value -- and we use the term 'value' advisedly here.
In fairness, this is true for just about every frequent flyer program. As we explain in the article What is a Qantas frequent flyer point worth?, a Qantas Frequent Flyer point can be worth as much as 1.3 cents if you make an award booking for a flight or as little as 0.3 cents if you go shopping at the Qantas Frequent Flyer store.
The best value for just about every frequent flyer program out there -- including Velocity -- is upgrades from economy to business class. And Velocity's upgrades are pretty good value, even if you only have a few thousand Velocity points.
Just about the same amount of Velocity points (9,900) would get you a one-way upgrade from full-fare economy (a frequent business traveller fare) to business class on a Perth-Sydney one-way flight.
That's over five hundred dollars' worth of value in an upgrade. Take a look at what we thought of the business class flight and service from Perth to Sydney. It's miles better than a toaster.
Don't forget: you can pool points and status credits from your and your family's future flights and transfer existing point balances too, making that upgrade within reach even if you don't have the 9,000 points in your own account.
What do you reckon, frequent flyers? Toasters or upgrades? Long flights or short? And points or status credits?