Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program has permanently removed some of the benefits offered to frequent flyers when travelling with international partner airlines. Upgrades and lounge access are among the tier benefits axed when flying with some partner airlines.
Although Velocity Frequent Flyer only announced these cutbacks yesterday, its website states that they came into effect in September 2020. If this is indeed the case, the lack of notice is rather poor form… although it’s unlikely many Velocity members are travelling overseas at the moment anyway.
Here’s a summary of the latest airline partner changes at Velocity Frequent Flyer…
Removal of complimentary Comfort+ upgrades & points upgrades on Delta
Velocity Silver, Gold & Platinum members can no longer request a complimentary upgrade to Comfort+ seating when travelling with Delta Air Lines.
In addition, it is no longer possible to upgrade on Delta codeshare flights with a “VA” flight number using Velocity points. Velocity introduced this feature in 2019, but it had been suspended since April 2020. Velocity has now permanently axed this program feature.
The changes come as Virgin Australia recently suspended its Joint Venture agreement with Delta. Virgin Australia and Delta have been close partners since 2011, but the Joint Venture was paused because Virgin is unlikely to resume flying to the United States for at least several years.
Last week, American Airlines also stopped offering complimentary Main Cabin Extra seating (equivalent to Delta’s Comfort+) to Oneworld elite members, including Qantas Gold, Platinum & Platinum One members.
No more lounge access with Alitalia, Hainan Airlines or Hong Kong Airlines
Velocity Gold & Platinum members no longer have access to any Alitalia, Hainan Airlines or Hong Kong Airlines airport lounges.
Where available, members will still have access to selected lounges operated by other Virgin Australia partner airlines including Delta Sky Clubs.
Points & status credits no longer earned on VA codeshare flights
Velocity members will also no longer earn any points or status credits for codeshare flights operated by partner airlines with a “VA” flight number.
You’ll still be able to earn Velocity points & status credits when travelling with a partner airline if you book directly with that carrier.
It’s highly unusual for a full-service airline not to award frequent flyer points or status credits for a flight marketed by that airline. Perhaps Virgin Australia no longer plans to sell codeshare flights operated by partner airlines at all. Either way, this is a rather drastic change!
What can we make of these latest Velocity partner airline changes?
The changes to Velocity benefits with Delta are somewhat understandable given the Joint Venture agreement has been paused. But removing lounge access with 3 partner airlines and cutting points & status credits on codeshare tickets is bizarre.
With Virgin Australia unlikely to operate any long-haul flights for at least several years, its frequent flyers will be relying on Virgin’s network of international partner airlines more than ever once international travel resumes. Yet Virgin now seems to be scaling back its partner airline arrangements, , rather than expanding them.
Velocity Frequent Flyer blames the temporary international travel restrictions for these permanent changes to its program. Its website says:
As a consequence of COVID-19 and some government-imposed international travel restrictions there has been some changes to the Velocity member benefits when travelling with our Airline Partners.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Velocity cuts points, lounge access & upgrades on some partner airlines