POINTS: Loyalty gets all shook up for Australian flyers now that Virgin Atlantic is joining SkyTeam
Virgin Atlantic has just announced that it will be joining SkyTeam – one of the big three airline alliances, the others being OneWorld and Star Alliance. This gives Australian flyers, particularly Velocity loyalists some interesting earn and redemption options.
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KrisFlyer – Star Alliance
If you are a member of Velocity – Virgin Australia’s loyalty scheme, you can already book Singapore Airlines flights via the Velocity/Virgin Australia websites. However, you can also now ‘exchange’ your Velocity points for KrisFlyer miles at the rate of 1.55 velocity points for 1 KrisFlyer mile. Under the previous ownership regime – prior to Virgin being sold to Bain Capital, it used to be a 1 for 1 exchange if I’m not mistaken.
Qatar – Avios – OneWorld
So, that’s Star Alliance covered. Via the partnership between Virgin Australia and Qatar Airways, you also get an entre into the OneWorld alliance, and that includes not only Qatar, but Qantas and British Airways. One even wierder trick, is that by putting your Qatar Airways Privelege Club number against your Virgin Australia bookings, you can in fact earn Avios – since Qatar adopted them as their frequent flyer currency. That means you can book British Airways, and even Qantas via Qatar using Avios.
Alternately you can just use Veloicty ponts to book on Qatar via Virgin Australia. Some users report that Qatar seats, via the Virgin partnership become availalbe ahead of their availability showing on Qantas – so there is that!
Virgin Atlantic – Skyteam
And the final trick is using Velocity points with Virgin Australia partner, Virgin Atlantic, when they become members of SkyTeam, scheduled for early 2023. That will give you access to bookings on the likes of KLM, Korean Air, and Delta airlines. Possibly lumpy at the start, a new booking platform in development will allow ticket purchases across the alliance via each of the individual airlines websites – similar to this ability already on OneWorld airlines.
These developments are all good, but still largely useless at the moment, when airlines are simply not making sufficient premium seats available for redemption using frequent flyer points. And why would they, when people will pay vastly inflated prices for air travel after having been starved of the abillity for the last few years during the pandemic.
I’m using my points for domestic upgrades for the moment. It’s something I wouldn’t normally do, or advise, but given economy is such a scramble at the moment, with people fighting over overhead locker space, it can be worth it for the comfort, and maybe the meal. Cost me only 8,000 points to upgrade from economy to Business on an early morning Adelaide to Sydney flight recently. The upgrade was granted instantly too. That’s a AU$700 upgrade for only 8,000 points – valuing the points at nearly AU.09¢ per point (if my maths is correct). So not a great redemption rate, but hey, the points were just sitting there, slowly devaluing.