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Virgin makes yet another play for Qantas frequent flyers

written by Jake Nelson | August 23, 2023

Rob Finlayson shot these Qantas and Virgin aircraft at Sydney.

Virgin is once again looking to entice Qantas Frequent Flyer members to its Velocity loyalty program through a status matching offer.

Under the scheme, Gold or higher status members of “other Australian airline loyalty programs” can apply for a fast-tracked “Discover Gold” trial Velocity membership, giving them three months of access to perks including lounges, priority boarding, preferential seating and extra baggage.

“Note that you’ll continue to earn Status Credits, Points and Eligible Sectors in the same way as other members,” said Virgin in a press release.

“Benefits you won’t receive include Gold member baggage tags, a physical membership card, complimentary partner memberships, guaranteed economy Reward Seats and membership pause for parental leave.”

To retain Gold status after the trial, members will need to earn at 80 status credits and fly at least one eligible sector, otherwise they will instead receive Silver status for 12 months.


Virgin and Qantas’ respective loyalty programs have been at war for years, with Virgin last year launching a similar “Switch-a-Roo” scheme to lure the Flying Kangaroo’s frequent flyer customers over to Velocity.

At the time, Velocity Frequent Flyer CEO Nick Rohrlach – who had sensationally “defected” from Qantas Frequent Flyer in 2021, provoking a protracted court battle – called the scheme another example of Virgin’s “playful” nature.

“On average, one person in every Australian household now has a Velocity Frequent Flyer membership, which shows the depth, breadth and importance of the program to Australian consumers,” he said.

The battle for frequent flyers became particularly divisive after Virgin’s collapse into administration supposedly led to 25 corporate accounts switching to the Flying Kangaroo from Virgin.

Qantas took advantage by launching multiple switching programs targeting both Virgin and Air New Zealand customers in the aftermath.

Rohrlach’s defection to Velocity has since paid dividends for Virgin, with the program hitting 11 million members by the end of 2022. The airline said the success was due to appealing to customers who have “less discretionary spend”, in a nod to the carrier’s hybrid pricing strategy.

As of December, Velocity still lagged behind Qantas’ equivalent scheme, which had 14.1 million members according to its 2022 annual report.

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