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Virgin offers Velocity points as incentive to get vaccinated

written by Hannah Dowling | June 24, 2021
A Virgin Australia 737-8FE, VH-YFP, as shot by Victor Pody
A Virgin Australia 737-8FE, VH-YFP, as shot by Victor Pody

Virgin Australia has joined Qantas in announcing a range of prizes on offer to all Australians who step up and get vaccinated.

The competition, which the airline has dubbed ‘VA-X and Win’, will offer millions of Velocity frequent fly points, as well as dozens of free business class flights.

The finer details around the exact prizes up for grabs will be announced when the competition officially opens, slotted for later on this year, but will see one person become a “Velocity frequent flyer points millionaire”, according to Virgin.

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One million velocity points could see someone fly the whole way around Australia, via each of its capital cities, seven times over, or instead opt for a once-in-a-lifetime overseas trip via Virgin’s international airline partners, according to the carrier.

“What the latest lockdown in Melbourne and the evolving situation in Sydney has taught us, is the sooner we can all get vaccinated, the sooner we can get on with our lives, without the constant fear and uncertainty that come with lockdowns, restrictions and closed borders,” a Virgin statement said.

“For simply rolling-up your sleeve and getting a COVID-19 vaccination, you could walk away with a share in tens of thousands of dollars of Virgin Australia and Velocity Frequent Flyer prizes or be the lucky one to become a Velocity Points millionaire.”

Additionally, Virgin is also offering prizes to encourage a greater proportion of its own staff to get vaccinated, such as additional annual leave, lounge memberships and free business class flights.

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The airline is reporting that around 65 per cent of its frontline workers, including pilots, cabin crew and airport workers, have been vaccinated or are registered to soon be.

Virgin is also offering flexible working arrangements in order for staff to attend both their vaccination appointments.

“We’re also proud so many members of our team are already vaccinated,” the airline said in a statement.

“As an industry that’s been severely affected by COVID-19, we want to do all we can to help vaccinate the population, and it makes sense to reward and encourage our colleagues who have been on the frontline of this pandemic, in this journey.”

It appears that Virgin’s competition, unlike a similar program announced by rival Qantas last month, is not exclusive to Virgin customers, though the prizes do appear to better serve Velocity frequent flyer members.

Meanwhile, last month, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce announced a slew of new incentives for Qantas customers who get vaccinated, including the offering of unlimited free flights for a year for big-prize winners.

Vaccinated customers will be offered 1,000 Qantas frequent flyer points, as well as the potential for travel vouchers and status credits. Additionally, Joyce said the airline would offer 10 “mega-prizes”, with at least one lucky winner from each state and territory.

The mega-prize would see a family of four receive free unlimited travel across the Qantas and Jetstar network for an entire year, as well as 1 million points to be used for hotel accommodation, donated by Qantas’ partner Accor.

The airline is advocating for more Australians to step up and take the jab, in an ambitious bid to see Australia’s international borders reopen by the end of this year.

“We want to do everything that we can to ensure the borders domestically open and stay open and that we get international up and running,” the Qantas chief said.

It follows the news that Qantas officially pushed back its intended start date for international routes from October to December.

Meanwhile, Virgin last month announced it had again pushed back its plans to return to international short-haul routes following news that the federal government is unlikely to allow a return of international travel until mid-2022.

In light of the federal government’s budget, which suggested that international borders would not fully re-open until at least mid-2022, Virgin announced it had again deferred its intentions to reinstate flights from Australia to Fiji and Indonesia until “at least” December 2021.

Further, in a surprising call, despite the government’s provision for a trans-Tasman bubble, Virgin will not be pursuing flights to most New Zealand destinations for the foreseeable future.

This is a change from the carrier’s previous announcements in which it said it would begin routes to Queenstown from September, and other major NZ cities from 31 October.

“Although we’ve seen positive developments with the trans-Tasman travel bubble and governments working exceptionally well to manage outbreaks, current demand for travel to New Zealand remains subdued, except for Queenstown, where customers are looking to travel over the September school holidays and the upcoming summer,” said Virgin’s chief strategy and transformation officer Alistair Hartley.

“All other New Zealand services will be deferred for the time being.”

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