Rohit

UPDATE

Since the time of writing of the original post, Velocity have significantly improved it’s offering to elite members. In addition to the free status credits announced earlier:

  • Velocity will also be extending and preserving the current status of all Velocity Frequent Flyer Silver, Gold and Platinum members for a further 12 months.
  • All requirements around flying minimum no. of eligible sectors are waived.

Members will receive an email over the next 2 weeks confirming these changes.

PREVIOUSLY

Overnight, both Qantas & Virgin Australia announced measures they are taking to preserve the elite status of members of their respective Frequent Flyer Programs. And whilst in the past, their actions have closely mimicked one-another, on this occasion the two have taken radically different approaches.

First up came notification from Qantas.

Qantas

Olivia Worth, CEO of Qantas Loyalty wrote to all Qantas Frequent Flyer members advising that their current elite status will be extended by a further 12 months from expiration. This, she said will be implemented in the following 2 stages. For those with their membership year ending,

  • Between March and June 2020, it will be automatically extended by 27 March 2020.
  • Between July 2020 and February 2021, it will be automatically extended by 9 April 2020.

You can read more on this over here.

Virgin Australia

Soon after, Velocity Frequent Flyer started contacting members via email, telling them they will be receiving free, pro-rata monthly status credits for the next 3 months in the following manner:

Free status credits for Velocity elite members
Elite Velocity members will receive free status credits over the next 3 months

Note, that while Qantas have decided to go all the way and add full 12 months from the end of current membership year, the piecemeal approach adopted by Virgin only goes until June 2020.

My Thoughts

Clearly, Qantas Frequent Flyer members are the winners here. Those with membership year ending after July 2020 are set to enjoy the fruits of their current status for best part of 2 years (until Feb 2022) which is fantastic. Qantas have also waived the requirement around flying the minimum number of eligible sectors.

Virgin Australia have gone about this in a different way. The problem with this approach though, is that life doesn’t happen on a streamlined, month by month basis. How many people plan on earning exactly 1/12th of their annual status credits requirement each month 🤷‍♂️ ?

Take my own example, I am a Velocity Platinum member currently sitting on 97 status credits, with a review date of December 2020.

My Velocity status tracker
My Velocity status tracker

As you can see, I am quite a bit behind where I need to be as per the tracker. Hypothetically speaking, if I couldn’t do any more flying until the end of my review period, based on receiving 70 status credits per month for the next 9 months, I would end up with a total of 727 status credits only, which is well short of 800 required to retain the Platinum status.

The other shortcoming with this approach is that it doesn’t address the needs of members who depend on program’s unique Family Pooling feature to achieve or retain status. This is because only those with Silver or above status will receive pro-rata credits. Also, note that there is no waiver on flying the minimum number of eligible sectors, so Silver, Gold and Platinum members are still required to fly at least 2,4 and 8 sectors respectively to retain their status.

Having said all that, I can kinda understand where Virgin Australia are coming from. The situation around COVID-19 is constantly evolving, and while Qantas have, in a way, preempted that it’s members may not be able to do the required flying over coming months and thus, have awarded them a further 12 months of status, Virgin are reluctant to make that call.

And although I don’t see it happening, in fairness, if the situation does improve to the point where people can start flying and going about their business in normal manner, then it is not unreasonable on part of Virgin Australia to expect that members also get behind the airline and earn further status credits by doing some actual flying.

Are you a Qantas & Virgin Australia elite member? Leave a comment below.

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