Many airline frequent flyer programs let you transfer points from one family member to another, but Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer scheme takes things further by allowing you to transfer your points, and also your status credits, automatically whenever earned.
Known as 'family pooling', it's a great way to top-up your own account when taking a family holiday as you can benefit from earning everybody's points and status credits, or can indeed pool your own points and status across to help out a family member.
Here's how to maximise this great feature and how it could get you Silver, Gold or even Platinum status while other people fly the hard yards for you.
Virgin Australia family pooling: the basics
As its name suggests, family pooling can be arranged with other members of your family, but not with friends or colleagues: that would be too easy.
Each Velocity member can have only one outbound family pooling relationship at a time. For example, you could pool your points and status credits to your spouse, but you can't pool to a second person at the same time and split the haul 50/50.
In reverse and instead of sending your hard-earned bounty elsewhere, you could instead have up to four children and one adult all sending their own points and status credits your way, whether travelling with you or on their lonesome.
At its best and when all flying together, you could be earning as many as six times the usual number of points and status credits via your pool: an easy way to skyrocket through the Velocity tiers.
There's also a choice between pooling both points and status credits or only pooling the points (with the status credits remaining with the actual traveller). As points can be transferred manually while status credits can't, we'd suggest this option as family pooling's greatest advantage pocketing the status credits too.
Family pooling takes effect from the day it's activated via the Velocity website and remains in place until cancelled, which means you can't retroactively pool status credits from one account to another after a trip has already been taken.
Virgin Australia family pooling: setting up your pool
To start pooling in your favour, log into each each family member's account on the Virgin Australia website (or have them do it for you), and enter your own name and Velocity number when requested.
If you encounter any difficulties, make sure the mailing address on each account is identical: pooling requests are automatically declined unless this matches up.
Also, if one of your under-18s turns 18, they'll be removed from the pool if you already have an over-18 member, so keep this in mind when that milestone birthday is approaching.
Finally, there's a specific ban on pooling "for commercial purposes or by commercial entities" -- and you may want to read the full family pooling terms and conditions (they're not that long or in-depth) for all the details of what you specifically can and can't do.
Top tip: be careful if you're about to reach a tier
If you and your other half (or one of your kids) is approaching a status tier upgrade -- such as stepping up from Silver to Gold, or Gold to Platinum -- be smart about when exactly you add them to your pool.
Any flights they take once they're a contributor and you're the beneficiary will add to your status credits and points balance, not theirs. This means they will keep their current level of points and status credits until the usual point/status credit expiration date.
So if you're Platinum and your other half is about to turn Gold, for example, you'll want to wait until he or she hits that status upgrade before making him or her a contributor to your account.
How to max out both your and your partner's status
There's also a nifty hack to get both you and your other half bumped up in the status stakes.
This is useful if you ever travel apart, so that you both have access to extra luggage, better seating, lounge access, priority boarding, and so on, even when you're travelling separately. And you'll then both get the extra status credit bonus that higher tier frequent flyers get.
Let's say you've finally hit Platinum status but aren't likely to reach the bonus level of the extra 500 status credits needed to get a partner Gold card for your other half.
You can turn yourself and the rest of the family into contributors and your other half into the beneficiary, which will fast-track them to Gold. You'll need to log into each of the contributor accounts to make that change.
But don't forget: the beneficiary will also get any points when you and the other contributors fly, which you'd have to transfer back using the usual transfer process.
Additional reporting by Chris Chamberlin.
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