Having wooed the cream of Qantas’ frequent flyers into its own Velocity rewards scheme during last year’s aggressive status match campaign, Virgin Australia is now offering special deals to keep those travellers in the fold.
Many Velocity Platinum, Gold and Silver members whose review date falls in September – one year after Virgin’s popular status match deal ended – and who have not earned sufficient status credits to retain their current membership level are now receiving emails from the airline promising they can re-qualify for as little as one return business class flight.
That’s exceedingly generous, considering that retaining Velocity Platinum officially requires that you chalk up 800 Status Credits with at least eight Virgin Australia flights over 12 months.
By comparison, a single Virgin Australia business class return flight between Sydney and Melbourne earns just 80 status credits – yet for many lucky Velocity Platinums that’s all it will take to hang onto that shiny card for another year.
Same status, different deals...
The specific offers seem to vary according to how active a Virgin Australia customer you’ve been over the previous 12 months.
Several Australian Business Traveller readers have shared their emails and status credit counts with us, and about all they’ve got in common is that you have to book and fly with Virgin Australia between July 15 and August 17, 2012.
(Some but not all emails also allow these flights can be with one of Virgin Australia’s international airline partners such as Air New Zealand, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Delta and Virgin America. The small print in Virgin's offer email also lists the fare types or booking codes that you'll need to book in order to qualify.)
Some Velocity Platinum members who’ve made several Virgin Australia flights are being lured with the need to make only one return business class trip or two return Flexi Fare flights.
For other Platinums with a lower flight tally and fewer status credits to show for it, the deal is two return business class flights.
We’ve also seen emails offering Platinums a ‘top-up’ of 200 bonus status credits for taking any Virgin Australia flight during the coming month.
Some Velocity Gold members are being offered a similar 100 status credit bonus, with 50 status credits for Silver – both of which can help travellers close the gap to retaining that level of membership, which stands at 400 status credits and 200 status credits respectively.
Routes with good value business class options
These are timely offers if you've already got some Virgin travel on your calendar. But if the coming month is light on business travel, there are still a few canny ways to take advantage of this offer and re-up to Platinum or Gold for another year.
There are a few Virgin Australia routes that can help you maintain your status in a cost-effective way.
Just don't jump right in and book a business class Sydney-Melbourne or Sydney-Brisbane flight unless you really need to, beause ticket prices tend to be highest on those popular routes.
We'd rate Melbourne-Gold Coast as a good candidate, as it offers decent availability of reasonable fares in the pointy end.
Brisbane-Newcastle is also a good option for a short hop
From Sydney, clear options are more limited. Off-peak Canberra flights can be useful, if expensive, and Newcastle is also worth a look.
Elsewhere, put your thinking cap on: which routes and times from your home airport have a really high proportion of budget-minded leisure travellers but few corporates? Those are the flights that will have the most availability of decent business fares.
What if you're already on the road?
In the US, off-peak Delta flights can often be decent value if you're spending time in the US. Look for middle-of-the-day or Saturday afternoon flights from one of Delta's main hubs (LA, Atlanta, New York, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Memphis and Minneapolis).
It's all about destinations that are heavy on the bargain-hunting leisure travellers, but light on corporate flyers.
Singapore Airlines is another oft-overlooked option. If you'll soon be in Singapore, Singapore-Jakarta or Singapore-Kuala Lumpur can be great options for a short weekend shopping break combined with Velocity requalification.
What's your requalification strategy? Got a few good secrets to share for status runs or "re-qual run" flights? Share them with your fellow AusBT readers below!
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.