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Virgin Australia's Velocity Rewards: the revamp has begun

By danwarne     Filed under: frequent flyer, Virgin Blue, rewards, status credits, frequent flyers, Velocity, rewards programs, frequent flyer points, Virgin Australia, Velocity Rewards, Velocity Gold, Velocity Silver

Virgin Australia has commenced a revamp of its Velocity frequent flyer program, following up yesterday's announcement of a new elite Velocity Platinum level with an overhaul of how the airline awards the 'status credits' which help members attain higher-privilege tiers of the Velocity scheme.

Today's changes making the Velocity status credit system more comparable to that of Qantas, but also with some big advantages. Here's a breakdown of what you need to know.

Status credits calculated on a daily basis

The most significant change is that Virgin Australia now uses a rolling 365 day window for calculating how many status credits its Velocity members have, rather than expiring them in bulk on a fixed date every 12 months as Qantas does (and Virgin Blue used to do).

With Virgin Australia's new system, only status credits from trips that were 12 months ago to the day will be expired, with this assessment taking place on a daily basis.

As a result, some Velocity members will see their status credit balances effectively increase today as the airline reinstates some status credits that have previously expired under the old plan.

However, status credit balances will fluctuate more often than they did before.

The  fixed 12 month reassessment formerly used by Virgin Blue and still employed by Qantas means that status credit balances build up throughout the 12 month membership period before suddenly dropping when all the credits earned over the year expire in one lump.

Under Virgin Australia's new system, with status credits assessed every day members' status credit balances will fall on a regular basis.

This doesn't mean that members risk losing their Velocity membership level on a daily basis, though. Virgin will only reassess members' membership level 12 months after a member attained a new level, ensuring that any membership level upgrade will last a full year.

Status earned on cabin class and distance, not dollars

Virgin's frequent flyer program used to be entirely geared towards getting you to spend the maximum amount of money – which is good business for the airline but not as attractive to passengers when compared to other frequent flyer programs.

Both points and status credits used to be allocated based on how many dollars the ticket price was.

Virgin Australia has now stepped away from that model and will allow status credits to be earned under a more conventional model of a fixed number of status credits based on the distance and the cabin class flown.

The airline says this will make it easier for passengers to plan their trips with Virgin to achieve their target membership level, rather than hoping they'll end up spending enough with the airline.

However, Velocity points are still earned based on the number of dollars you spend.

Easier to retain Velocity silver and gold membership

The Velocity program previously made no allowance for people who fell a little short of the required number of status credits to re-qualify for a silver or gold membership.

Essentially, if a member had to earn 500 status credits to qualify for gold, they had to earn another 500 status credits to retain the gold membership the next year (though Virgin did make case-by-case exceptions for members who appealed it.)

That approach has now been done away with, with a reduced status credit levels required to retain a membership level.

Gold members who would have had to earn 500 status credits a year to qualify now only have to earn 400 status credits to hang on to the membership level.

Likewise, silver members will only need to earn 200 status credits rather than the 250 for full qualification. That's not quite as good as it sounds, though, as under the previous rules, achieve and retain silver were both only the equivalent of 200 status credits.

As a concession to people who might have been close to achieving silver, Virgin is allowing people to qualify for silver for the first time by earning just 200 status credits, until the end of the year.

Revaluing status credits

To make it easier to compare your Velocity status balance against Qantas and other frequent flyer schemes, Virgin Australia has effectively revalued status credits. The number of status credits each member earns and holds across the board has been divided by 100 - so, if your Velocity balance was previously 10,000 status credits, it will now be 100.

Virgin Australia Velocity vs Qantas Frequent Flyer

Overall, the changes make Velocity silver and gold membership much easier to attain than the equivalent Qantas Frequent Flyer levels.

Qantas requires passengers to earn 300 status credits to achieve silver, and 700 to achieve gold. Virgin's 250 and 500 respective threshholds mean considerably less flying is required to get access to the airline's privileges.

That being said, Virgin's status credit earning isn't exactly the same as Qantas' -- the mileage threshholds are different -- so it's possible passengers won't earn as many status credits on some routes as they might on Qantas.

The Virgin status credits table also doesn't mention first class tiers, even though some of Virgin's airline partners do offer first class cabins.

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About danwarne

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.

 

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1 on 6/6/11 by am

plus the value of silver/gold status on Virgin is way lower than being silver/gold on QFF... Hence, it makes sense for it to be easier to attain...

I wish that they would just come out with everything all at once... I've almost totally lost interest in what they're doing and I think they failed to play on the wow factor in order to string the news out for longer...

1 on 6/6/11 by 777

If you've "totally lost interest" why are you posting? 

1 on 6/6/11 by am

if you want to quote me then actually quote me...

"I've almost totally lost interest"

Of course I'm still interested in what they are going to do, and I get that these things take time but it's just frustrating to see small things change but it seems to take forever for anything major to occur... Hoping it will all be worth the wait :)

2 on 6/6/11 by David

AM: they definitely are doing the dripfeed approach instead of the big bang, which is of course frustrating from a frequent flyer perspective but works for Virgin Australia from a PR and competitive perspective.

3 on 6/6/11 by Virgin Australia

As was the case with our airline relaunch, it is actually physically impossible to relaunch all areas at once as some would prefer. Take for example, over the weekend our Velocity rewards website needing to be taken offline to upgrade - to enable us to provide the bells and whistles for the actual launch. This has to happen prior, hence the news our a new tier, Platinum.

David, we can assure you that come 'later in the year' - there will be a day that you will be having to write a long glowing piece about us!

2 on 6/6/11 by Virgin Australia

Also, where you say "The Velocity program previously showed no mercy to people who fell a little short of the required number of status credits to qualify for a silver or gold membership" - we believe that we showed our members far more latitude than you suggest.

Now with the changes that have come about with our frequent flyer program, and utilising a Daily Status Review, members will have even more oportunity to upgrade to the next level of membership.

1 on 6/6/11 by danwarne

Well, that's true.. I was thinking of changing that part of the article to "(officially) showed no mercy" ;-) Since most mercy was shown on a case-by-case basis rather than a memberbase-wide level of clemency... (am I right?)

1 on 6/6/11 by Virgin Australia

But of course it is a member-by-member case-by-case basis, if we were to blanket upgrade everyone, there would have been little point in setting the original level.

The use of the words "no mercy" are a little misleading here.

1 on 6/6/11 by Noob

Your FA's are hot :P

2 on 6/6/11 by danwarne

I've shown mercy on you and softened the wording in the article a bit. One airline's mercy is another airline's standard policy of course... take Virgin Blue and Virgin Australia as two examples ;-)

1 on 15/6/11 by Chloeglow

Trying to take cheap shots Dan? Wasnt AUSBT meant to be unbiased? Choose your words carefully.

1 on 15/6/11 by danwarne

Totally intended as hyperbolic humour -- not serious! Apologies if it came across that way.

 

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