Velocity Upgrading Members Slightly Short on Status Credits

Velocity Platinum, Gold, Silver and Red cards
Velocity Frequent Flyer has been quietly upgrading members who were close to achieving a higher status tier. Photo: Virgin Australia.

Velocity Frequent Flyer members would normally need to earn at least 250, 500 or 1,000 status credits during a 12-month period to upgrade to Silver, Gold or Platinum status respectively. But Velocity routinely upgrades frequent flyers who are still just a little bit short of the published status credit target, provided they’ve flown the minimum required Virgin Australia sectors.

Velocity does not publish the criteria under which a member will be upgraded without meeting the usual requirements. It’s never guaranteed and when it does happen, it could happen without the member even being notified.

But Australian Frequent Flyer has seen instances of members being quietly upgraded to Gold after earning around 490 status credits during the previous 12 months, or from Gold to Platinum while sitting on 980 of the usual 1,000 required status credits. So, a reasonable assumption would be that it could happen if you’ve earned around 98% of the published status credit thresholds.

While Velocity has been known to quietly upgrade its members’ status tiers, less leniency is given if you don’t earn the published number of status credits needed to retain an existing status level that you already hold.

Surprise and delight

For most Velocity Frequent Flyer members, being upgraded to a higher status tier is a very nice surprise. As one AFF member recently posted on our forum:

I’ve been flying enough domestically to get close to Virgin Plat (I’ve never been more than Gold with an airline) and was pleasantly surprised this morning when I logged on to my velocity account and they had upgraded me to Plat, even though I was only on 980+ status credits – a nice ‘customer service’ touch I thought, so I thought I’d give Virgin a ‘shout-out’ for that.
Bell21, 3 August 2022

Many of the Velocity members who get upgraded before officially reaching the next tier would have likely got there anyway. After all, they’d already earned at least 98% of the required status credits and may have already had future travel booked to get them over the line. But being upgraded earlier could mean getting to enjoy their status benefits sooner.

Unintended consequences

While they are mostly welcomed, surprise tier upgrades can also have unintended consequences due to the way Velocity’s “rolling” membership years work.

With Velocity Frequent Flyer, you can upgrade to a higher tier if you meet the published criteria (or get close to it, apparently) within any rolling 12-month period. Once you’ve upgraded to a higher tier, you’ll have exactly 12 months until your new “review date” to enjoy your status benefits and earn enough status credits & sectors to renew for another year.

When Virgin unilaterally decides to upgrade a member who hasn’t yet actually earned the required status credits, this changes that member’s review date without their consent. This could actually be a nuisance for a small number of Velocity members who had carefully planned to reach a higher status level on a specific date.

AFF member airly, for example, had meticulously planned to cross the threshold for Gold status in September 2022 as they specifically wanted to have access to their Gold status benefits during a trip they have planned for September 2023. But their plans were disrupted by an unexpected tier upgrade in June which reset their review date. They wrote on AFF:

Recently got upgraded early to VFF Gold without meeting the 500 status credits criteria (I had around 495 status credits)
Usually I would appreciate it but I have been planning my travel strategically so that I will get to Gold in Sep 2022 and can enjoy the benefits until Sep 2023 (planning to travel overseas in Sep 2023). But now my review date is Jun 2023.
airly, 22 July 2022

This is not the first time an AFF member has been caught by surprise… and not in a good way. Another member’s unexpected upgrade to Velocity Gold status disrupted their plans to reach Platinum status. They had already planned enough travel over the following year to upgrade to Platinum, but would no longer be able to do so because their plan was based on the later review date that would have been allocated if they had been upgraded after actually earning the required number of status credits.

Velocity refusing to budge

In rare situations where it’s an unwanted upgrade, we’re told Velocity Frequent Flyer members are welcome to discuss their account on a case-by-case basis so Velocity can review the outcome.

Unfortunately, this was not the experience of airly.

I have reached out to VFF and they refused to downgrade me to Silver nor extend my Gold status until Sep 2023.
airly, 22 July 2022

We find it surprising that Velocity refused this member’s reasonable request to allow them to earn their status as per the published Velocity Frequent Flyer terms & conditions. This doesn’t really seem fair to the member as they were never asked if they wanted the upgrade which they hadn’t yet earned in the first place, and it’s had a negative unintended consequence for them.

Section 7 of the Velocity T&Cs says that members need to earn 500 status credits and 4 eligible sectors in order to upgrade to Gold status. This section also says:

Your Status level is assessed daily based on your Status Credits and Eligible Sector balances to determine if you’re eligible to upgrade your Status level.
If you meet the eligibility criteria for a Status level, you’ll be upgraded to that Status level for your Benefit Period. On each Review Date, if you still meet the eligibility criteria for a Status level, you’ll maintain that Status level for a further Benefit Period after the Review Date. If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for a Status level on your Review Date, you’ll be downgraded to the Status level below your current Status level.
We may upgrade, downgrade or maintain your Status level in accordance with these Terms.

To be clear, most people do appreciate this. But unsolicited upgrades can be problematic for some people and Velocity’s refusal to reverse airly‘s tier upgrade, given to them without their agreement, seems to contradict the loyalty program’s own terms & conditions.

This situation could be easily avoided if Velocity simply asked members teetering close to the threshold if they would like an early tier upgrade.

Velocity’s main competitor, Qantas Frequent Flyer, does not generally upgrade frequent flyers who are slightly short on status credits.

 

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Early status upgrade to VFF Gold – what should I do?

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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]

Community Comments

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I've heard on various airlines programs they have very occasionally upgraded / retained qualification on very near enough good enough basis.

In your case this sucks eggs, I'd think at your request they'd have to peg you back down to silver on the sole basis you didn't qualify under the T&C's status tier program, Velocity in this case. It's their own T&C's that state 500 SC. I'd call again & insist.

Reply 2 Likes

I had similar earlier this year. Upgraded to PLT on 980SC (with a few forward bookings). Will cost me a month of status & time to requalify.

Reply 1 Like

Any chance you can go for Platinum now? A grander strategy, you’d obviously have a much later review date once achieved. Plus a soft landing to Gold if you don’t requalify.

Reply 1 Like

Any chance you can go for Platinum now? A grander strategy, you’d obviously have a much later review date once achieved. Plus a soft landing to Gold if you don’t requalify.

Unfortunately not able to get to Platinum :(
It is very annoying that VFF didn't even ask whether I would accept the early status upgrade.

Reply Like

Virgin routinely upgrades people’s status when they almost, but not quite, meet the criteria. It happened to me 5 years ago when they gave me Silver on 247 SCs, and earlier this year when they gave me Platinum on 986 SCs. I think they see it as being a bit of a pleasant surprise and for most customers (including me) it is, as we can start using the status benefits earlier than expected.

I can see your point, but I do believe that Virgin see it as a pleasant little thank you gift, and you know what they say about looking a gift horse in the mouth…

My advice is to be patient: there’ll probably be a double-SC promotion at some stage over the next 12 months, and you may well also find yourself travelling unexpectedly? Re-qualifying may well be easier than you think.

Reply 2 Likes

click to expand...

I agree that for most people this would be a pleasant surprise.

But I actually also agree with the OP that it's not fair for Velocity to do this without asking the member, and then refuse to downgrade again when this is requested. Surely this goes against the published program T&Cs which state you need to earn 500 status credits within 12 months to upgrade to Gold?

Reply 2 Likes

I agree that for most people this would be a pleasant surprise.

But I actually also agree with the OP that it's not fair for Velocity to do this without asking the member, and then refuse to downgrade again when this is requested. Surely this goes against the published program T&Cs which state you need to earn 500 status credits within 12 months to upgrade to Gold?

One of the unintended(?) consequences of VAs rolling membership years. Most programs, you’d get the early bump up for the remainder of your current year and *then* a full year at the new level.

Reply 1 Like

The thing I find annoying is they don't give you the extra sc's when you are short on requalifying.

Reply 1 Like

I think this is a very great hidden policy for VFF to do early upgrade.
However, I am disappointed that VFF didn't do anything when the early upgrade actually disrupted my plan. Especially they could see my future booking in Sep 2022 that would give me the status credit to get to Gold.

Reply Like

This is one of my main gripes with velocity, the rolling year. Qantas I have January til December and if I qualify in March I have gold until December the following year. Virgin it's like a roller coaster and I'm never quite sure when my credits will disappear. I think I'll be platinum by October with Virgin but I can't be bothered scrolling through pages of earn to work out when status expires and how many.

Reply 1 Like