Huge adjustments at Virgin are inflicting panic amongst frequent flyers.
This week, we’ve seen Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah step down, to get replaced by former Jetstar head Jayne Hrdlicka.
That alone suggests an airline which shall be much more centered on funds journey than on extras like lounges and rewards flights.
For a lot of 2020, members of Virgin’s Velocity frequent flyer scheme haven’t been capable of redeem their factors for both flights or items due to the airline being in administration.
Rewards flights resumed in July, although just for home locations. That wasn’t notably interesting when the longest flights (similar to to and from Perth) have been off limits due to pandemic journey restrictions between states.
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For higher-status members, the shortage of lounge entry has additionally made flying much less interesting, whilst pandemic restrictions have eased barely and flight regularity has slowly elevated.
The Velocity Rewards Retailer reopened in September, however with a smaller vary of choices than earlier than.
And utilizing factors to purchase a espresso machine continues to be one of many lowest-value selections.
One other latest change is triggering concern for factors fans.
Velocity members will not earn factors when travelling on flights with Virgin’s worldwide companion airways, similar to Singapore, Delta and Etihad.
Flights which have a VA code (repeatedly used when flying with a companion airline) received’t be eligible to earn any Velocity Factors.
That’s not an enormous sensible concern proper now, on condition that flying out of Australia requires express authorities approval and a willingness to endure 14 days of paid quarantine on return.
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But when that rule stays in place in 2021, then reserving to fly with companion airways by way of Virgin received’t appear so interesting, and passengers would possibly go for different options. That in flip makes the partnerships much less beneficial total.
Velocity nonetheless isn’t permitting redemptions by way of its worldwide companions.
Traditionally, these have been the best-value and most-sought-after presents.
A primary-class reward flight with Etihad or Singapore, whereas robust to attain, may supply $70 or extra in worth for each 1000 factors you spent.
Velocity is making an attempt to entice prospects to spend their factors domestically, with a present deal providing 30 per cent off the factors wanted for redemptions in Australia.
That’s undoubtedly price contemplating for those who’re fascinated by journey quickly (and are assured your journey shall be possible regardless of border restrictions).
Home flights don’t supply as a lot bang for buck as worldwide ones, however are nonetheless a lot better worth than Rewards Retailer redemptions.
Virgin’s new proprietor Bain Capital has stated it is going to proceed working Velocity and keep all factors balances.
However whereas the one flight choices are home and with the specter of a extra Jetstar-like expertise, the worth of these factors stays up within the air.
Angus Kidman is the editor-in-chief and journey guru for Finder