rip-loyalty

One member is considering abandoning their loyalty to Virgin Australia in favour of a “best fare of the day” policy. This member currently holds Platinum status with Virgin. But they are constantly finding that they can fly on overseas airlines in Premium Economy – or even Business class – for the same price as Economy on Virgin Australia and its partner airlines.

So I have been looking at booking several overseas trips (Asia and Europe) for later this year and early next year. Being WP with VA I obviously want to credit there if possible, however I am increasingly finding fares from the likes of China Southern Etc, where I can Fly PE or J for the same fare as Y on VA or a VA affiliate. Obviously, J has all the same benefits of WP, including lounge access, priority everything, and the randomness of the seating is eliminated due to being paid J. I am seriously considering just using whoever is cheapest now for J and ditching loyalty programs all together.

Although our member would lose the benefits of their Virgin status, this is somewhat of a moot point when flying in Business class anyway. Premium cabin passengers receive many of the same benefits as passengers with status, such as lounge access and seat selection. They also receive a much more comfortable seat and better service on board.

In theory, this sounds like a good plan. However, one member warns that the cheapest Business class fares on some Chinese airlines do not come with all of the usual benefits.

Just be careful to read the fine print of discount business fares on Chinese airlines – within China at least. A lot of them are special offers which they describe as business class “in flight”. They do not make you eligible for business class privileges on the ground. So no lounge, no premium check in, no express path through security and/or immigration.

Another potential disadvantage of abandoning Virgin status is a loss of status benefits when flying within Australia. In the long term, our member may be able to achieve a meaningful status tier with an overseas airline. But this status would be useless within Australia unless the airline was a partner of Virgin or Qantas.

The obvious hole in this theory is that domestic flights would have no lounge access or priority anything as there is no reciprocal access and I only ever fly Y domestic unless Im comp’d.

As a compromise, some members suggest trying to retain Gold status with Virgin as a minimum. Gold status is a sweet spot as it still offers benefits like lounge access and priority check-in, but requires half the amount of flying of Platinum status.

How important is airline loyalty to you? Join the discussion HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]