Changes in Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer Award Redemptions

29th Feb 2016

Virgin Australia is set to change the price of award redemptions for its frequent flyer program Velocity starting on 1st June this year. This will be the first time Virgin Australia is making this adjustment in five years.

Velocity frequent flyer points will now expire after two years of inactivity from the member, whereas until now, the member could have been inactive for a year longer. For comparison, Virgin Australia's 24 months is still significantly more lenient than the 18-month period that the biggest competitor Qantas allows.

In addition to changing the expiration period before Velocity points are void, the Australian carrier is also changing the number of points required to redeem flights on certain partner airlines, such as Air New Zealand, Air Berlin, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways and Hawaiian Airlines.

This also means a change to the cost of business class and premium economy class seats on Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Virgin, Virgin America and certain Air New Zealand flights, which will now increase depending on distance. However, customers will need fewer Velocity points in case they want to redeem flights on economy class that are more than 7,700 kilometers long.

Speaking about these changes, a spokeswoman for Virgin Australia said:

"These are the first changes that have been made to the points expiry period or the reward seats points tables since they were introduced to the program more than five years ago."

She also added:

"During this time Virgin Australia has undergone significant changes to become a full service airline, providing all guests with a complimentary checked baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment, food and beverages."

In 2014, Virgin Australia sold 35 per cent of Velocity to private equity group Affinity Equity Partners for a reported $336 million, but up until now, the points needed to redeem flights stayed at their previous levels.

The frequent flyer scheme reported first-half underlying earnings before interest of $70.8 million and currently has 5.7 million members. In comparison, Qantas' loyalty program posted $176 million underlying EBIT profit for the same period and has 11.2 members.

For the new award redemptions, Velocity program members can still make bookings using the pre-June tables.