Skip to content

Virgin Australia devalues Velocity elite status, pauses codeshare flight sales

Oct. 22, 2020
4 min read
Virgin Australia Plane at Gate
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Virgin Australia quietly unveiled a handful of negative changes to its Velocity loyalty program. These include the suspension of selling international codeshare flights and devaluing a handful of elite status benefits.

These changes come months after Virgin Australia entered administration — similar to filing for bankruptcy in the U.S. — due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the months following, the airline announced it would end most international flights, suspend its transpacific partnership with Delta Air Lines and run an all-737 fleet in the future.

That said, this round of changes to codesharing and loyalty programs show just how dire the situation is at Virgin Australia. Here's a look at all of the changes recently announced by Virgin Australia.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Virgin Australia suspends international codeshares

Virgin Australia won't sell codeshare flights until further notice (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Effective September 2020, the airline has suspended the sale of codeshare flights on its international partners. So, in short, you cannot book partner flights with a Virgin Australia flight number until further notice. Travelers who have already flown one of these flights can request retroactive points credit if the points don't automatically post to their loyalty account.

For background, codesharing is when an airline sells another carrier's flight as its own. For example, you were once able to book Virgin Australia flights that were actually operated by Delta Air Lines. The flight would be a Delta flight, but Virgin Australia members would be able to book the flight with a Virgin Australia flight number.

Thankfully, you can still credit flights booked with a partner to Virgin Australia, so long as the flight doesn't have a Virgin Australia flight number. This means that you can put your Virgin Australia loyalty number on a Delta itinerary and earn points and status credits without change. The airline's website notes that Velocity members will continue to earn a Tier Bonus on Delta Air Lines and Etihad Airways partner flights.

Related: 8 common misconceptions about visiting Australia

Huge elite status devaluations

Virgin Australia has gutted some of its most valuable elite status benefits — including Comfort+ upgrades on Delta flights, (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Even worse, those with Virgin Australia Velocity elite status won't have access to as many benefits going forward. Effective September 2020, Velocity Gold and Platinum members can no longer access Alitalia, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines lounges worldwide. This is especially disappointing to those flying to cities where Virgin Australia or another partner doesn't offer a lounge, like Hong Kong (HKG). It's also worth noting that Virgin Australia's own lounge network remains closed.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Further, Velocity Platinum, Gold and Silver members can no longer request upgrades to Comfort+ on Delta flights. Further, since Virgin Australia is no longer selling Delta codeshare flights, you can't upgrade with points on these international flights either.

Related: The best ways to use points and miles to fly from the U.S. to Australia

Bottom line

These changes are indeed heartbreaking for Virgin Australia elites. That said, Australia has continued to restrict international travel, so it won't actually affect too many travelers. It sounds like many of these changes are temporary, but it makes me wonder about the future of Virgin Australia as a whole. If it transitions to a mostly domestic airline, will it also break off its international partnerships?

If it does, this could come as a huge devaluation to Velocity elites in the long-run. With no international partners and benefits, many Australian partners will be forced to move loyalty elsewhere if they rely on international connections for leisure or business travel. These travelers will likely switch to Qantas — the largest Australian airline — so there's the possibility of a lucrative status match on the horizon.

Only time will tell how this plays out, but I hope that Virgin Australia is able to bounce back post-pandemic. Competition has proven to be a good thing for the airline industry, and without it, we might see higher flight prices in Australia. Even a smaller Virgin Australia with international partnerships would be better than a Qantas monopoly on the market.

Feature photo by Peterfz30/Shutterstock

Featured image by (Photo by Peterfz30/Shutterstock)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.