Experience Booking Europe Trip with Velocity Points | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Experience Booking Europe Trip with Velocity Points

travelislife

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I thought I would just give my experience from booking a recent trip to Europe using Velocity points to help out others in future. Especially with all the questions people have with regard to booking direct with VA points or transferring points to SQ.

I was booking this trip for my wife and I, as well as our baby daughter. At the time flights became available our daughter was not yet born. The basic trip idea was to visit friends in London, Aarhus and Phuket over 3 weeks.

So this gave a couple of options.

Option 1 - MEL-LHR return via Singapore. This would give us a free stopover in Singapore and then require a separate side trip ticket to be purchased to get to Phuket (likely in economy). Would also require a side trip from London to Denmark. All up this would use the least points at 278,000 VA points per person.

Option 2 - Book all as one way tickets, This would cost more points, but only 18,000 points per person, and have all our flights in Business class. On assessment this seemed the better option.

A summary table of the points options below. We could have also booked Etihad for the MEL-LHR leg, but at a significant $$ cost with their surcharges.

The table also shows the best points scenario is being able to book directly through points earned in SQ. I didn't have this option. The worst option is to transfer points from VA to SQ. So in this scenario you would only do this if you wanted to waitlist some flights. Otherwise much better to book direct with VA for your SQ operated flights.

The other big kicker here is that we have an infant on our trip. Infants booked through Virgin Australia are free! An unbelievable deal really where other airlines can charge anywhere from 10-20% of the commercial fare plus taxes. Especially when booking one ways this can add up to $1500 for a return business class trip to Europe. SQ charges 10% of commercial fare plus applicable taxes. So although it is more points booking with VA it is a definite significant dollar saving.

Trip points breakdown.PNG

Flight booking stories to come....
 

travelislife

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Flight 1
MEL-SIN-LHR

I booked this in early January for a departure in August. So approximately 8 months out, availability was surprisingly good. The great thing about SQ is the number of flights they have leaving Australia from the East Coast, gives a lot of options.

So first up I tried searching MEL-LHR on Velocity's website. This did throw up both some SQ and EY options. But unfortunately not the exact ones. I did a search on SQ's website and it showed a couple of other options, one that was perfect. This was searched again as MEL-LHR to ensure there was no married segments issues.

I have personally found if tickets are available at the saver level on SQ's website, then VA has access to them. So it was time to get on the phone.

A couple of calls to different agents and each time I was told, no sorry sir flights not available. I was thinking ah well I'll just transfer the points to SQ and book direct with them. This would have been 2,750 more expensive in points, but the same taxes. Only issue would be the extra $600-700 in infant fees. I was prepared to cop it.

Then I thought, wait I should get the agents to check each individual leg as it definitely shows as available on the SQ site.

So I called again. At first the agent did a search for MEL-LHR and couldn't see the flights. I then said to her to check each one individually. The agent could see both the legs I wanted as available, but not when searched as a through ticket. She thought that was strange. Anyway she went and had a play in the system and managed to construct the ticket with the 2 legs I wanted (stopover less than 24 hours so still a through ticket). Great!

Now the fun part....! Not all agents are that educated in the VA award charts. On 2 occasions booking this trip on the phone they tried to charge me per sector rate with the connecting flights (increasing the number of miles required significantly). They said they can only charge the ‘zone’ price on direct flights. I asked how that was possible for a direct flight in their higher zones, she couldn't answer. She could not grasp the concept of the award chat and I gave many examples. So....

Then she wanted to charge me 65,000 (MEL-SIN) + 92,000 (SIN-LHR) = 157,000 per person, 18,000 more than it should be. Argh! I explained to her that it should be priced as one trip. Anyway I had to push to get a supervisor who then managed to book it all correctly. Yay!

In the end I don't know why it showed as a through trip on SQ's site but not on Velocity when they did manage to book it. Just something to keep in mind, it's always worth pushing!

No phone service fee as this couldn't be done online.

This ticket was booked for 2 adults, as the infant was not yet born. I was told this could be added for zero cost at a later date.

Final cost: 139,000 points + $91.39 per person. Bargain!
 

travelislife

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Flight 2
CPH-SIN-HKT

We decided we would get a cheapy Ryanair one way ticket from London to Aarhus where we would spend a few days with friends before a few nights in Copenhagen and then flying out. Also avoid the exorbitant LHR tax!

Again I booked this in early January for a departure in August.

This was a much easier booking than the first. In saying that, CPH-SIN-HKT would not come up when searching on Velocity's website, saying no flights available. I checked the individual legs and the through ticket on SQ's website and it was all showing up fine. Individual legs showing fine on VA's site, just not through ticket.

Called VA, no problems seeing it as CPH-HKT through ticket. Great! But then it came to pricing it...same issue as above. Sorry sir we have to charge per sector. Meaning they wanted 92,000+26,000 = 118,000 points per person!

Um, no thanks. Can I speak to a supervisor please? Yep. Okay. Comes back. Oh that will be 92,000 points. Yes. That is correct. The thing with this is that the original agent never seems to apologise for making the mistake, they make it sound like a hassle that you were right in the first place, strange. But just shows how far off their training is.

No phone service fee as this couldn't be done online.

This ticket was booked for 2 adults, as the infant was not yet born. I was told this could be added for zero cost at a later date.

Final cost: 92,000 points + $44.30 per person. Bargain!
 

travelislife

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So, now we came to a bit of a road block. We hadn't expected this trip to Europe would be on the cards with a new baby due, so I was short about 100,000 points for the last leg home from Phuket. Worse case we could just book an economy one way fare home, but would be much nicer to be in the comfort of SQ business class, especially with an infant, so I needed a plan!

I earn my Velocity points through a mix of domestic flying, flybuys, everyday purchases and credit card bonuses. Now needing 100,000 points fast my only real option was a credit card bonus. Conveniently Virgin Money had a great deal going, 120,000 bonus points over 3 months. You can read more about that at this link:

Virgin Money Flyer 60,000/High Flyer 120,000, $129 flight voucher, annual fee $64/289

So now I had to play the waiting game. Each month earned 40,000 BP's with a min $3k spend. No problems. Amazingly this was one of the most painless bonus point exercises ever. The points literally posted to my Velocity account the same day the statement was issued! Truly unbelievable for a Citibank backed card.

Although I was tempted I stopped looking at the award flights for HKT-SIN-MEL, no point seeing them disappear in front of my eyes! It was a long 3 month wait, but finally come last week I had the points available in my account.
 

travelislife

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Flight 3
HKT-SIN-MEL

Because of the wait for the points I was booking this ticket in April for a September departure, only a 4 month lead time so I was nervous!

Amazingly there were a couple of options available on the day we wanted, one was on a 777-200 with 2-2-2 seating, the other on a 777-300ER with the 1-2-1 seating, easy decision really!

Again due to the connection it couldn't be booked on VA's website. On to the phone, flights found instantly and fortunately no issue with the pricing this time. All done in about 15 minutes.

No phone service fee as this couldn't be done online.

This ticket was booked for 2 adults and also the infant. As per earlier this went all fine and the infant was zero miles and zero dollars. I don't know of another airline this generous with infants and award tickets, and booking on a partner airline as well. Hope it never changes!

Final cost: 65,000 points + $59.20 per person. Bargain!
 
Last edited:

travelislife

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Adding Infant
Last hurdle was calling up and adding the infant to the first 2 bookings. Did this today. Absolutely no issues at all. Zero points. Zero dollars and a ticket issued in the infants name. No phone service fee either. Great!

Summary
All in all I think this is an amazing deal, as close to a free business class trip to Europe as you can get, though obviously with a bit of work involved. There are a couple of key winners that the VA programme has over it's main competitor in QF that I have listed below. I used to be QF gold and have booked a OneWorld J trip before so know the programme well, but switched to VA a couple of years back due to Qantas' surcharges.

VA winners:
  • No fuel surcharges
  • No infant fees
  • SQ availability closer in is much better than I have experienced on OneWorld through QF
Any questions am more than happy to answer.

Now to look forward to our trip in August!
 
Last edited:

ozjuice

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Jan 6, 2016
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I had the exact same issues finding 2 x BNE - FCO flights SQ in J. Booked as 2 one way tickets but had to do so over the phone to ensure the correct points were taken. 278000 per person. Takes a while but worth the call.
 

docjames

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I couldn’t get HKG-LHR to ticket online. Called up, easy done.

It does seem the call centre staff know how to manipulate a less then easily functioning system.......
 

travelislife

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Feb 9, 2011
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I couldn’t get HKG-LHR to ticket online. Called up, easy done.

It does seem the call centre staff know how to manipulate a less then easily functioning system.......
This can be an advantage in disguise as those who can't be bothered calling miss out and leave more availability for those willing to work for it!
 

Jacob Speed

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Apr 26, 2018
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Thanks for this, great guide.
I am really struggling to find redemption opportunities with SQ, but searching leg-by-leg really opened some more options up
 

PDF

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Jan 15, 2018
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Great guide, thank you!

A quick question: when booking SQ J and F flights through the Velocity call centre, do you still get access to seat selection, book the cook, etc?

I ask because in the past when I have booked (paid) flights on Air NZ/Virgin codeshares, through the Virgin Australia website, the ticket 'lives' in VA and there is no seat selection. I'd hate to book a ticket with my partner on SQ F and then be separated for the journey.
 

travelislife

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Feb 9, 2011
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Great guide, thank you!

A quick question: when booking SQ J and F flights through the Velocity call centre, do you still get access to seat selection, book the cook, etc?

I ask because in the past when I have booked (paid) flights on Air NZ/Virgin codeshares, through the Virgin Australia website, the ticket 'lives' in VA and there is no seat selection. I'd hate to book a ticket with my partner on SQ F and then be separated for the journey.
Yes you get access to all items as per normal booking. You will be given the SQ PNR that you use on the SQ site to lock in seats, book the cook, etc. It operates as per a normal SQ booking. Don’t try and do any of this stuff on the VA site though as it won’t work.
 

Denali

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Are the reward seats/email confirmation VA or SQ flight numbers?

When I booked reward seats via VA, the flight numbers were SQ222 and SQ324 and when I got my email confirmation, I found it had both the VA and SQ reservation number printed on it so was able to log in and select seats on the SQ site with the SQ reservation#.
 

knagelli

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Jul 26, 2019
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Indeed a great post/guide @travelislife . I am about to start my travel planning for our Europe vacation in July 2020 and I also wanted to use Velocity points if they can be of any use just to make sure I can cut down my revenue tickets by half. I am trying to optimize the trip and going to use your guide as it has all the inputs/details that I was searching online.

Cheers/KN
 

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