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Qantas targets Virgin Velocity members with switch offer

written by Adam Thorn | November 26, 2020
A cocktail bar in Qantas' lounge in London (Qantas)
A cocktail bar in Qantas’ lounge in London (Qantas)

Qantas has made its most audacious pitch yet to woo Virgin Australia customers after announcing that top-tier Velocity members can be fast-tracked to Gold status on the airline’s own frequent flyer scheme.

The airline said the deal, which also applies to 15 international airlines, was the result of a “large number” of enquiries from members of rival plans.

It also comes after Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said publicly that Virgin’s new scaled-back strategy would see his airline’s domestic market share increase from 60 to 70 per cent.

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The offer, which the business claims is the first of its kind by a national carrier, means transferring members only need to accumulate 100 credits in three months to qualify for Gold rather than the usual 700.

However, they will gain immediate access to lounges and extra baggage while they attempt to hit the lower target, which could be reached by booking as few as five return economy trips between Sydney and Melbourne.

Gold tier benefits include lounge access across Qantas and Oneworld airline lounges globally, preferential seating and priority access to check-in, boarding and upgrade requests.

The airline hopes to have opened 30 of the 35 domestic and regional lounges across its network by early December.

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Qantas Loyalty chief executive Olivia Wirth said, “With so much uncertainty in the market, we’ve seen a spike in requests from people wanting us to match their status with other airlines.

“If they are willing to bring their travel across to Qantas, we will fast track them to Gold status.”

While new members will be fast-tracked to ‘Gold’ status, they will have to earn the normal requirements to reach the two higher tiers: Platinum and Platinum One.

In October, Joyce said his airline’s market share was “likely to increase organically from around 60 per cent to around 70 per cent, as our main competitor changes its strategy”.

However, Virgin still hopes to keep its lucrative business-class and frequent flyers by becoming a mid-market ‘hybrid’ airline rather than a budget airline.

Earlier this month, new chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said, “Australia already has a low-cost carrier and a traditional full-service airline, and we won’t be either. Virgin Australia will be a mid-market carrier appealing to customers who are after a great value airfare and better service.”

“The travel environment is changing and so are our customers’ preferences,” said Hrdlicka. “We know that leisure travellers, small and medium businesses, and many corporates are now emerging from COVID-19 wanting better value.

“They are hungry for flexibility and choice, a trusted brand that resonates with their values, and great prices, along with the premium features they value most.

“Today, we’ve announced a plan that will ultimately give our customers what they value without the big price tag: premium lounges, a new and fresh retail offering onboard, a choice of cabins, better digital technology and a more streamlined check-in experience.”

The airline also reaffirmed its plans to open a domestic lounge network that includes Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast.

It also said business-class would continue, but will first undergo an “end-to-end review” before relaunching next year alongside its premium economy service.

Virgin officially exited administration on 17 November and new owners Bain took charge, with ex-Jetstar boss Hrdlicka taking the role vacated by Paul Scurrah.

Scurrah’s surprise exit last month was significant because he was synonymous with the airline’s plan to operate as a mid-market ‘hybrid’ rather than reverting back to being a low-cost carrier like predecessor Virgin Blue.

However, Hrdlicka started her first full day in the job by unveiling details of Virgin’s relaunch and strongly insisting it would fill the gap between Jetstar and Qantas.

Bain has resolutely defended the appointment of incoming chief executive Hrdlicka, arguing that she would provide a “different form of leadership” needed to survive, despite a bad relationship with unions.

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11 Comments

  • Warwick

    says:

    Any Velocity member who knocks back QF’s offer is a fool.
    The feeling of many is that Virgin won’t last, as it’s now owned by a PE company.
    It’s a good move of QF’s, in gaining more flyers’ on its’ flights’ ie more $$$$$$.
    It’ll be interesting to read the figures’, in time, if they’re published, of how many took up the offer.

  • Disabled Flyer

    says:

    Virgin now that the A330 aircraft have gone there are two important features I’d like to see in Business class.
    First and most importantly seat width.
    19 inches is a joke
    Virgin’s Business class seats for the more heavyset guest or those whom are disabled struggle with a narrow width “J” class seat and a factor airlines do not take into account.
    Second is that there needs to be at least one wheelchair friendly toilet in Business class.
    Having to sit for 4 hours 45 min in a Boeing 737 from Brisbane to Perth is no joke if you can not use the onboard facilities.
    I for one only choose A330 flights domestically so I can use a toilet if required.
    I understand space is premium but take an example from El Al Boeing 737 Business class.
    Wide modern seats and a larger Business class bathroom.
    Food for thought but for someone heavyset and disabled like myself the above is of the up most importance.

  • Jimmie

    says:

    The word ‘reverting’ means to ‘go back’. Check out its’ Parsing.
    There’s no need whatsoever to add the word ‘back’ after it.
    Primary school English grammar.

  • Td

    says:

    At least with Virgin you don’t lose your points if you haven’t flown for a while for whatever reason. Qantas points just disappear into the fine print even if you keep topping them up with point winning systems e.g. Woolworth s or BP etc. . Virgins don’t (at least not for now). For the not so wealthy ,who don’t fly often as a passenger due cost, the only benefit of either system is ease of booking and administering flight progress/options.
    Maybe it’s time to compare both sets of rewards systems. (A task for Adam .T)

  • Markus

    says:

    With those comments around Covid19 mandatory vaccinations for all travellers on Qantas flights I’m doubting the success of their switch offer. In fact, Virgin can easily counter attack this by providing flexibility for all travellers to use their company whether they’re vaccinated with the ‘new’ Covid-19 vaccine or not.

  • Paul Panebianco

    says:

    Whilst I a VAH shareholder lost everything; I don’t qualify for a single velocity point.? I worked hard to buy those shares over several years and how am I supposed to feel about it.??

  • Paul Panebianco

    says:

    I encouraged aviation to go electric a long time ago and finally light switch (brain) has switched on to cost-savings (virtually free to run) and the benefits for our environment with virtually zero emissions! Wow; Congratulations for listening!!

  • Suzi

    says:

    I am a silver velocity member no benefit for me to swap to Qantas as it’s only for Gold and above

  • David

    says:

    So how do we transfer our points to QF?

  • Nate

    says:

    To David, above…..

    If you’re referring to Velocity points, they do NOT get transferred to QF! They stay with VA, as they ‘own’ them.
    If you take up the QF offer, provided you’re a high tiered VA flyer, you become Gold as a QF FF, & start all over again gaining QF FF points, according to the rules’ set out in this offer.

    Basically, your VA FF points’ don’t count for much whilst VA aren’t allowing you to use them.

  • Warwick

    says:

    To TD, above….

    Basically, what you’re saying is you do not earn ONE point, in 18 months’, to keep your QF FF points balance current?
    Points’ are valid for 18 months’, before they’re lost, so how is it so difficult for you to have points’ moved across from ancillaries’, to keep your account running positively?
    If points’ accrued on 1-12-2020, these don’t expire, unless used, until 1-6-2022.
    If points’ accrued on 1-1-2021, these don’t expire, unless used, until 1-7-2022 et al.
    So the accruance, & ‘life’ of a QF FF point is cyclical. Compre?

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