How To Redeem Velocity Points: A Complete Guide

how to redeem velocity points for seats on Qatar's QSuite
The Velocity Frequent Flyer rewards program is Australia’s second most popular rewards program. It belongs to Virgin Australia and remains an excellent option for using reward points. It offers two key benefits that no other program in Australia offers – transferring Velocity points to Krisflyer and family pooling. The Virgin program offers much better redemption opportunities and availability than Qantas, but there are a few trade-offs to deal with in return for this. Here’s our guide on how to redeem Velocity points.
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    Finding Velocity reward seats

    Velocity Reward Seats are the equivalent of a Classic Reward seat on Qantas. There are limited seats offering a standard price depending on your route of choice. They offer much cheaper redemptions than Any Seat awards that Velocity also offers and these are the ones you should focus on.

    Finding and redeeming Velocity program seats is relatively easy. Unlike Qantas, you don’t need to log in to see what’s available, although I recommend creating an account because it’s free.

    1. On the homepage, click “book a trip” to look for your destination
    2. Make sure you hit the toggle “Use Velocity Points” before searching (This also means you can search for partner airline bookings)
    3. Have a look and see what’s available. The reward seats have a purple “Reward seats available” logo. These will be significantly cheaper than the other points seats available.
    4. If you’re looking for business class, you need to click through all the reward seats available to check if there are seats available.
    5. If you still can’t find any seats, look at my tips for alternative options.

    How many points to redeem a flight?

    • Points: 10,000
    • Origin:
    • Class:

    • Melbourne one-way
    • Cost: 6,900 points + A$34
    • This calculator is a guide to give you an approximate idea of how much points might be worth. Cost will vary depending on the partner you choose to fly with and taxes will vary depending on the airline, destination and exchange rate at the time.

    Many people want to know how many points do you need to get a free flight? This depends on if you’re redeeming Velocity points for domestic or international flights and the class of travel. Given Virgin’s huge variety of partners the rates can also differ between airlines. The best place to find an up to date guide is Virgin’s website but for a quick guide check out our points calculator above to give you a rough idea of how many points you might need or where your existing points could get you. As you can see, the costs can vary wildly, but there is still something for most people to redeem.

    Domestic reward seats

    Virgin Australia has recently had a turbid history going into receivership in 2020 and pausing most frequent flyer benefits and all flights while Bain Capital bought them out. Consequently, the network was vastly shrunk down and is slowly re-expanding and covering the most popular routes within Australia (although less frequently than Qantas).
    The domestic product remains respectable and comparable to what you would get from Qantas. Be aware that Virgin only flies 737s for now, with a new fleet of 737 MAX aircraft coming soon. This means transcontinental flights won’t benefit from a lie-flat business class seat. Despite this, Virgin has introduced a new business class seat
    Redeeming your Velocity points for domestic flights is more accessible and slightly cheaper than Qantas, with a Sydney to Melbourne economy reward seat costing 7,800 points instead of Qantas’ 8,000 points. This means if Virgin flies the route you plan on travelling and most of your flying is domestic, the Velocity program is an excellent one to get into. It offers good value and relatively easy points collection.

    International reward seats are a different story

    One of the most significant downsides to Virgin Australia is their international route network is very limited. Their main destinations are the South Pacific and New Zealand, with a single route to Tokyo from Cairns on the 737 Max. This means that Virgin Australia relies heavily on its partners (which are admittedly very good) to provide it access to an international network.
    Virgin also doesn’t belong to an alliance, which means it relies on individual airline agreements rather than group agreements. This means you get variable benefits with different airlines. Other benefits like lounge access and the points required to redeem a flight depend on the airline with each one having a separate award table.

    The unique Singapore Airlines/Virgin Australia partnership

    One of Virgin’s most prominent partners is Singapore Airlines. Not only do they provide reward seats and the ability to share benefits between carriers, but they also allow the unique benefit of transferring miles between Velocity and Krisflyer. This does come at a cost – the transfer rate is 1.55:1, so you lose a decent chunk of points in the transfer. I’ve written a guide on how to convert velocity points to krisflyer.
    What makes this transfer rate more favourable is credit cards often offer more favourable rates for transferring to Virgin than they do to Krisflyer. For example, ANZ lets you convert reward points to Velocity points at 2:1 and to Krisflyer at 3:1, meaning for every 5,000 ANZ reward points, you would get 2,500 Velocity points or 1,666 Krisflyer miles. In addition to this, Velocity commonly has offers that can give you 20-30% bonuses if you transfer points from a credit card. If you transferred during this time, you would get 3,000 Velocity points instead and converting this to Krisflyer would give you 1,935 points instead of the 1,666 points you get with a direct transfer.
    One downside of the partnership is that though you can redeem reward seats on Singapore Airlines, the selection is more limited than using Krisflyer miles. For example, searching for a random date for me showed only one available economy seat. At the same time, the Krisflyer website gave me three flights with economy, premium economy and two flights with business class available (see below). Although this option existed pre-COVID, first-class rewards on Singapore Airlines are currently unavailable with Velocity. Taxes between Velocity and Singapore Airlines are similar, so you still receive some of Krisflyer’s benefits.

    United Airlines

    United Airlines is Virgin’s newest airline partner and is the best value proposition for redeeming Velocity points for international flights. The availability of United flights is the same between Krisflyer and Velocity (I won’t compare directly because United miles are not easy to earn in Australia). The points cost on Velocity is lower, and taxes between Velocity and Krisflyer are identical. For instance, a Sydney to Houston economy flight costs 54,800 Velocity points and $125.48 in taxes, while Krisflyer charges 66,000 points for the same flight with $125.48 in taxes. Given the ease of earning Velocity points in Australia, Virgin gets the edge here.

    Qatar Airways

    Virgin has interestingly partnered with two Middle Eastern airlines – Qatar Airways and Etihad. Both airlines provide a vast route network available to Virgin, but when it comes to redemptions, I think these are a little more difficult for me to justify. On the one hand, Qatar Airways has an excellent QSuite product, and the availability of rewards on Virgin has been mentioned several times and confirmed by me as much greater than with Qantas (another Qatar Airways partner). Given Qatar’s significant number of destinations, this can be a justifiable redemption – especially for Business and First class; however, sometimes I think the economy flights are a bit too much. Still, there are some savings to be had compared to cash, but I think it is better to see what other options are on the table.

    Etihad Airways

    Etihad Airways is the other big Middle Eastern carrier that Virgin has partnered with. Etihad’s network, while still large is the smallest of the large Middle Eastern Carriers (Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad). Reward seats on Etihad’s network are harder to come by and relatively recently  Virgin has added carrier charges to tickets which again increase the cost significantly in terms of additional fees paid per ticket. This mostly affects Business class redemptions and as you can see below Etihad’s economy class redemptions remain somewhat competitive but not the most competitive. I found Qatar airways reward seats were much easier to find than Etihad seats and given Qatar’s network is larger, I think you will rarely use the Etihad redemptions. In saying this, the more options you have the better.
    Interestingly with 3 big partners and many more minor partners Virgin Australia provides many options for reward seats when getting to your destinations. For example a search for a flight from Melbourne to London reveals 3 separate airline options taking you all the way there. As you can see the points and taxes do vary but it is great to have so much choice in terms of your hub airports leading to a huge combination of airline redemptions at your fingertips. You can also see the confusing part with different taxes and different points prices for each journey making it hard to predict the number of points you require.
    Route Airline Cost (Economy)
    Melbourne - San Francisco - London
    United Airlines
    59,800 points + $125.90
    Melbourne - Abu Dhabi - London
    Etihad Airways
    75,000 points + $277.07
    Melbourne - Doha - London
    Qatar Airways
    75,000 points + $314.67

    Lounge access and recognition of status can be a problem

    one of the lounges you could get into with velocity business class redemptions
    While Virgin’s reward availability compared to its rival is very good, a big downside to having individual airline agreements means mutual status recognition doesn’t always make sense. An example of this comes in the form of lounge access. Unlike Qantas, Virgin doesn’t have an international lounge network and so are reliant on deals they have signed with partners to provide lounge access. This can be at times confusing and requires checking which lounge you can visit. Virgin has a page which aims to clarify lounge access as best possible but unfortunately due to the lack of alliance you can lose reciprocal benefits. For example flying on United Airlines as a Velocity Gold or Platinum member doesn’t mean you can access Star Alliance lounges automatically. Before travelling it’s best to clarify with Virgin if you have any status, what benefits will apply. This isn’t a uniquely Virgin problem. I have encountered similar issues with Qantas’ non-Oneworld partners as well with some confusion regarding reciprocal benefits.

    How can you earn Velocity points without flying?

    While you can definitely earn Velocity points through flying, there are many other ways to earn points. Being the second most popular rewards program in Australia there are many partners which allow you to earn velocity points. This includes banks which allow you to earn points through credit cards, shopping portals, hotel partners, car hire partners etc.

    One of the most unique ways to earn points is through other people in your family’s flying through family pooling. A family pool should be located at the same address and can consist of a maximum of 2 adults and 4 children. The brilliant thing about this is all of the points and status credit earned from the combined flying of people in a pool can be credited to one person. Let’s say you decide to fly from Sydney to Perth as a family of 4. Normally this would net you 60 status credits on a return journey in Economy. This isn’t enough to earn any airline status. However, if you combined all 4 members’ status credits and gave them to one person, this would give you 240 status credits (or just 10 shy of achieving Silver status).

    Not only are status credits pooled but so are points. This means one person gets all of the points credited to their account and once you’ve gone up a status level you also get bonus points allowing you to rack up points for the future even more quickly. This is a unique benefit to Virgin and gives it a leg up on the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program.

    Does status make redeeming flights easier?

    Are travel money cards worth it? There are often hidden costs, so read the fine print

    Airline status comes with a few major benefits, making it worth it, especially when you travel frequently. Velocity’s program is no different. There are four tiers – Red, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Moving up a tier requires a certain number of status credits (acquired through flying and shopping at Coles supermarkets) and a certain number of eligible sectors (which must from flying on a VA flight number on a cash ticket).

    The goal of status chasing makes sense for the airline. It forces you to spend money with them and rewards you the more you spend. It was originally designed to reward frequent flyers but many airlines are moving towards being able to earn status credits through other means. Virgin lets you get status credits through Flybuys (1 credit per $100 spent), Through signing up for certain credit cards and family pooling.

    So how does this status help you with redeeming flights? Well, unfortunately, it only helps if you’re able to achieve Gold or Platinum status, which does require a lot of flying. Virgin as an economy reward seat guarantee which guarantees you a reward seat on any Virgin-operated domestic or international flight as long as it’s booked more than 6 months in advance. It also allows you to book a seat for 3 more accompanying passengers.

    Another benefit of earning airline status is you get a significant amount of bonus points. Silver will give you a 50% bonus on what you would have earned and this goes up to 100% once you reach Platinum. This potentially allows you to redeem seats which you otherwise would have missed out on.

    Virgin’s limited network does mean that status perks are slightly limited. Qantas has an unspoken rule where Platinum members can get seats released for them including for international destinations. This is a much more useful perk given Qantas’ fairly large international network. Hopefully as Virgin’s network expands we will see these perks continue and the benefits of acquiring status improved.
    In summary, Virgin has a very competitive frequent flyer program with the benefits being easy to collect points in Australia, favourable rates of collection with banks and regular transfer bonuses for credit card programs. Virgin’s domestic reward seat availability is great and international redemptions can be good as well as long as you are aware that this is very partner dependent and can be subject to change. The X-factor for me with the Velocity program is the transfer to Krisflyer as this unlocks so many opportunities and gives you access to the excellent Krisflyer reward availability. Velocity still has many sweet spots where it is best to redeem with them so have a look for yourself and see what you can find!

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