Even though Virgin Australia has been in voluntary administration for the past two months, and Velocity Frequent Flyer redemptions remain severely limited, Velocity has been really pushing its members to continue earning points lately.
Velocity Frequent Flyer has been ramping up the marketing emails in recent weeks, with offers such as bonus points at the Velocity eStore…
Or reminders about earning Velocity points with Freedom Furniture…
Today, Velocity also launched targeted offers of bonus points on credit card spend and a new promotion encouraging Flybuys members to transfer large amounts of points to Velocity…
Flybuys and American Express Membership Rewards reinstated point transfers to Velocity in May. But with most Velocity redemptions still currently unavailable for an indefinite period, there’s a reason almost every other bank has not!
The struggling Virgin Australia Group needs all the revenue it can get at the moment. Members earning Velocity points with third-party program partners is one way for the airline’s loyalty program to get some of that much-needed cash. But it’s a hard sell when Velocity Frequent Flyer members are still faced with uncertainty about the future of Virgin Australia, many loyal members have just been screwed over by not getting refunds for cancelled Virgin flights, and options for redeeming points remain almost non-existent.
In my opinion, some of the marketing communications from Velocity Frequent Flyer over the past two months have been downright tone-deaf. For example, Velocity sent out an email in May informing its members that they’d just won a bunch of Freddie Awards and declaring it was “great news” that domestic flight redemptions were back. This was just days after Velocity quietly reinstated the expiration of points and stopped issuing refunds for any cancelled reward flights booked for travel until 30 September (a policy it later backtracked on).
It is now possible to redeem Velocity points for Virgin Australia domestic flights again… but only on 20 selected domestic routes, and only for travel after 1 September 2020. The list of available routes does not include any destination in Tasmania or the Northern Territory, so if you live there, Velocity has nothing for you. And even if you do wish to travel on one of the available routes after September, there’s a risk Virgin Australia will later cancel your flight anyway. (Velocity’s current policy is at least to refund passengers for cancelled flights if you’ve booked after 15 May 2020.)
Virgin Australia is still operating flights right now – with schedules increasing to 320 flights per week from early July, and even more flights being brought back by early August. But you cannot redeem Velocity points for a seat on any of them. You also cannot redeem points on international flights, nor for upgrades or flights with any of Virgin Australia’s partner airlines.
Meanwhile, the Velocity Rewards Store remains closed. You cannot redeem points at the Velocity Wine Store. Car hire, hotel and holiday redemptions also remain off-limits. And the ability to transfer Velocity points to the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program remains suspended indefinitely. Frankly, I doubt this program feature will ever be back as Singapore Airlines will no longer be a Virgin Australia shareholder once the airline is sold to Bain Capital (the likely new owner).
Is that really “great news”?
Virgin Australia has publicly said that the value of Velocity points is at least backed by a trust. And, thankfully, Bain Capital has indicated they plan to honour existing Velocity points. That’s good news, and it does look increasingly likely that the sale of Virgin Australia will go through. But there are still no guarantees, and it remains to be seen how the Velocity Frequent Flyer program would look under new owners.
Given the current state of affairs at Velocity Frequent Flyer, it’s hard to see why anyone would go out of their way to earn more Velocity points at the moment. It’s even harder to see why anyone would decide to transfer points from a “safe” program like Flybuys or Amex Membership Rewards.
Of course, we’d all love to see Velocity Frequent Flyer emerge as an attractive loyalty program on the other side of the pandemic. Hopefully we will. But until Velocity members can redeem their points again without severe limitations, encouraging members to continue earning more points as though nothing has happened is a very hard sell.
Are you actively chasing Velocity points right now? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Is it Time to transfer/withdraw points from Velocity?