Qantas or Virgin Velocity frequent flyer?
What if I told you that you can buy a Business class ticket from Sydney to Los Angeles worth nearly $3,600 for less than $1,100 cash? You can and its not a scam nor is it unachievable.
Yesterday I was stunned to find out that some friends that are heading to Europe next week are not members of a frequent flyer program. There are a bunch of reasons to sign up to your favourite program. These are the reasons why I believe you should do it.
I am a big fan of Virgin Australia's Velocity rewards and I will explain why I believe it has the edge over Qantas' Frequent Flyer program.
If you are a one-eyed Qantas fan and could never think of flying another airline. That's cool, join Qantas Frequent Flyers and get the benefits. Just remember that depending on where you fly you will probably also fly on Emirates too. Emirates are awesome don't get me wrong but Qantas is no longer Qantas, more like a Qantas/Emirates hybrid.
Anyhow, for the rest of us. I will run through a few reasons why I think that Virgin has the edge.
- Family Pooling of not just miles but Status Credits. Virgin is one of the few airlines (Qantas don't) that allow a family 2 adults and up to 4 children to pool their miles and status credits. This means that one family holiday (2A 2C) to Europe will get you to Gold status or East Coast USA will leave you just 20 status credits short of Gold (Syd - Mel return will cover that).
While air miles are great and they can allow you awesome upgrades, free flights, free hotel stays, free car hire and so much more. Status Credits are king! Status Credits are the things that get you closers to the coveted Silver, Gold and the holy grail Platinum Status.
Status has some awesome perks. For instance double or even triple your free baggage allowance, seat selection at no extra charge or even bonus miles from 25% - 100% extra.
Honestly, they're all good perks but there are more. How about skipping the checkin queue at the airport, even the humble Silver status allows you to check-in via the Premium/Business queue, it's always shorter believe me.
After you check in and get to keep that spare seat beside you, yes having status helps this too. You get handed an "Express Pathway" path (International Gold & Platinum only). Now this is a perk they don't tell you about and it happens both exiting and entering the country.
The "Express Pathway" is a way to skip the long queue at the customs and security process. This is awesome. Best thing is if the normal queue is small, stick your express pass in your pocket and save it for next time.
Once through the official processes, you can forget about finding a crappy and expensive meal in the airport halls in uncomfortable seats. Just head to the Business Class Lounge, find a comfy spot, get a fresh and yummy meal with real cutlery and relax with your favourite drink, including a glass of French bubbles.
There are a couple of extra perks in the business lounge you will enjoy, almost all have hot showers, with a range of free toiletries. Flying Sydney to Europe and having a hot shower, putting on fresh undies and socks makes you feel almost human. You will feel a whole lot better than most people.
What about boarding first? I used to be one of those people that liked to board last, purely to spend less time on the plane. But now I travel with a large carryon filled with expensive camera gear, boarding first has the advantage of making sure my bag is safely stowed right above my seat.
- Choice of Airlines. My preferred airline for years has been Singapore Airlines. If you have ever snagged an upstairs economy window seat on a Singapore A380 you will understand this.
Virgin's own network is actually quite small, they fly within Australia, the Pacific, NZ, Bali, Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi essentially. But they have three key partners (a bunch of others too). Heading towards Europe you have the choice of Singapore and Etihad, both out of Sydney and through their hubs. To the USA its Delta.
On each of these airlines you will earn points and can even fly under a Virgin flight number as if flying on Virgin. You also get to use their lounges in Sydney and around the world when flying.
- Guaranteed Upgrades. Virgin have this very simple and easy to use upgrade system. With Qantas you can apply but there are no guarantees. You may not even find out until you get to the gate.
Upgrades are awesome, especially on long haul flights. Take Sydney to Los Angeles for example. It is a 14 hour flight. If you buy a Flexi fare, which is say 20-30% more than a saver fare, you earn double status points (this is good), plus more miles. But as soon as you have paid for the flight. You can call the Velocity call centre and pay for an upgrade with points (Gold & Platinum only).
Want to fly Premium economy, it is only 18,000 points each way, Business is 45,000 each way. Get this, you earn a minimum 13,112 points by doing this leg in Flexi economy so the Premium upgrade costs you less than 5000 points and a couple of hundred bucks extra for Flexi fare over the Saver fare.
- Double Status credits 80 instead of 40.
- An additional 6558 frequent flyer points (miles)
- The ability to upgrade to Premium Economy (if available) for a net cost of 4,884 points (earn 13,116 and pay 18,000 to upgrade), you save $1176
- The ability to upgrade to Business (if available) for a net cost of 31,884 (earn 13,116 and pay 45,000 to upgrade), you save $2,521!
- To put this in perspective, if booking accommodation or car hire products using Velocity points then you pay 10,000 per AU$100 of expense. So the cash value of the points needed for these upgrades are $48.84 for Premium economy & $318.84 for Business. That is an AWESOME deal.