Virgin Australia frequent flyers will be able to earn and redeem points online with Westfield under a new partnership between the airline and shopping centre management group.
Virgin says the new program is in response to market research that shows non-flight rewards such as retail purchases nearly as popular with Australian frequent flyers as flight rewards.
The airline’s revamped Velocity program will also allow frequent flyers to pool their points with family members and to take “parental leave” from the program for up to six months without losing points.
The airline’s research found that 50 per cent of frequent flyers rated flight rewards such as free, discounted or upgraded tickets as the most important part of a frequent flyer program, while 43 per cent said non-flight rewards were most appealing. Another 47 per cent of respondents rated the ability to pool points with family members as the best way to improve such programs.
The market study was conducted by Galaxy Research in October based on a sample of 1510 respondents between the ages of 18 and 64, Virgin said.