Is Velocity lifetime status and a “Platinum Plus” level on the way?
Executive Traveler Exclusive
Virgin Australia revamps the tiers of its Velocity Frequent Flyer rewards program, with the possibility of a new tier of status above Platinum – the current top rung of the loyalty ladder – to match Qantas’ Platinum One.
The review could also offer Lifetime Velocity status to Silver, Gold, and Platinum members, which the challenger’s longtime loyalists have been eagerly anticipating.
CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said Velocity’s review, which is still in its early stages, will be completed before the end of the year.
“We are very early in our review of our tiering program in Velocity,” Hrdlicka confirmed to Executive Traveler at the opening of the airline’s invitational Beyond lounge in Sydney, “and that’s probably going to take us another five or six months to complete.”
But while the former Qantas Group executive – who was briefly in charge of Qantas Loyalty from November 2017 to April 2018 – is acutely aware of Velocity’s relatively low Platinum ceiling, she would not be drawn to the prospects of a new tier perched above Platinum for frequent flyers who spend more time in Virgin airport lounges than in their own lounges.
“Once (the exam) is over, we will have a different conversation,” Hrdlicka teased.
“But you would expect us as an organization to continue to evaluate what we do, to continue to look for places to innovate and improve the experiences we provide for our customers.”
“And we’ll never stop improving…it’s a commitment we absolutely make to our customers and employees every day, it’s that we’re hungry to learn, we’re hungry to grow, and we’re hungry to invest to always find opportunities to do better.
Velocity Lifetime Status?
Virgin Frequent Flyers retain their benefits from year to year, but there is no counting of cumulative status credits accrued over the many years of their membership.
However, Qantas allows its rusty flyers to achieve Lifetime Silver, Lifetime Gold and even Lifetime Platinum status and enjoy these lifetime benefits – with the long run to lifetime status often labeled as “golden handcuffs” which help to keep travelers loyal to Qantas.
For example, Qantas Silver status kicks in at a threshold of 250 status credits per year, with Lifetime Silver requiring 7,000 status credits in total; for Gold, the respective numbers are 600 Status Credits and 14,000 Status Credits.
As a quick measure, applying the same metrics as Qantas Annual and Lifetime Status for each tier would see Virgin Australia Velocity Lifetime Status fall around the following tiers:
- Velocity Lifetime Money would require around 5,000-6,000 status credits
- Velocity Lifetime Gold would require some 9,000 status credits
- Velocity Lifetime Platinum would need a whopping 50,000 status credits
Beyond Velocity Platinum
Under the current four-tier Velocity structure, Virgin Australia passengers must earn 1,000 status credits over 12 months to achieve Velocity Platinum status – but see no benefit once they hit the milestone. 1,000 SC, as many frequent flyers do.
By comparison, Qantas frequent flyers who reach the 1,200 Qantas Platinum status credit threshold and continue to soar to reach 3,600 status credits are placed in the Platinum One category, which offers additional benefits and a level much higher service when flights are disrupted.
This mismatch leaves Virgin without a way to recognize and reward its most loyal and active frequent flyers – and leaves those travelers without any incentive to continue flying with Virgin, instead of perhaps transferring their business to Qantas for s ensure they also hold Platinum status with the flying kangaroo.