Virgin Velocity is warding off Qantas’ latest attempt to poach its members by offering triple points on domestic flights booked during the next fortnight.
The offer applies to all domestic flights booked before 25 April 2021 for travel between 1 June 2021 and 8 March 2022.
The news comes less than a week after Qantas restarted its deal to allow top-tier members of rival loyalty programs to be fast-tracked onto its own scheme.
It was previously used to target Virgin Velocity members in November, but was reopened until 30 April 2021 and expanded to allow Kiwi residents to be eligible.
Qantas’ offer, open to loyalty members from 16 international airlines, means new transferring members only need to accumulate 100 credits before 31 July 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.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has previously revealed that that 25 corporate accounts switched to his airline since the start of the COVID crisis.
Last week, Virgin surprisingly announcing it won’t fly most of its New Zealand routes until 31 October. It followed Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern warning passengers travelling to Australia to “plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted” if there is a COVID outbreak.
A one-way ‘travel bubble’ first opened in October 2020 allowing Kiwis to enter Australia without quarantine, but not the other way around.
Both countries indicated it would be made reciprocal in the first quarter of 2021, however, the move was postponed due to numerous small outbreaks of COVID in both countries.
The news also comes shortly after the ACCC granted final permission for Virgin and Alliance to collaborate on 41 regional routes until 31 March 2023.
The deal will allow Virgin to share information on cost, capacity, and flight schedules with Alliance in order to help serve smaller towns with its post-administration, stripped-back fleet, arguing that ceding market share to Qantas could result in more expensive fares for passengers.
The 41 routes included services to regional towns from Brisbane, Alice Springs, Perth and Cairns.