Velocity Rewards: Redeem your points for flights

This article was published some time ago and content may be out-of-date.  Airlines are continually changing their loyalty programs. Always double-check with the airline. 

VelocityThis is a redemption guide

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Overview

This guide looks at Virgin Australia’s most popular flight redemption option, Velocity reward seats.

Velocity rewards allow you to use your points to pay for a seat on-board Virgin Australia, or one of Virgin’s international partner airlines. However, there are only a set amount allocated for any particular flight, so availability is limited.

Velocity’s reward seats offer some exceptional value, especially in premium cabins on Virgin Australia operated flights. Generally speaking, there is more reward seat availability on domestic and short-haul international flights. And unfortunately, much less on popular international treks like the US. There’s also value to be had with domestic flights where the cash price is high. But, as always, you must be flexible.

Another big tick in Velocity’s box is the low taxes on international flights – you won’t pay anywhere near what you would with Qantas. But, you have to find a seat first, and there’s arguably more reward availability with Qantas.

Although KrisFlyer transfer redemption opportunities with Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance carriers can fill the void, Velocity falls well short of the Flying Kangaroo’s extensive oneworld alliance.

Velocity Seat Upgrades

Upgrade your existing, fully-paid Virgin Australia seat to a higher cabin-class.

Velocity-Krisflyer Transfers

Velocity’s reward seat inventory is severely limited on popular international flights, especially in Business Class. Transfer your Velocity points to Krisflyer and redeem Singapore Airlines flights from the source. You’ll not only open up more availability but more options via Singapore Airlines’ Star Alliance partners!

Velocity Round The World

Although Velocity doesn’t offer a ‘Round The World redemption directly, you can transfer your Velocity Points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles and redeem the impressive Star Alliance Round The Wold Reward. Business Class is very much the sweet-spot.

Virgin Australia partners

You can redeem Velocity points for flights on Virgin Australia domestic and international flights, in addition to Velocity’s small-but-growing suite of partner airlines.

Direct-redemptions are available with Singapore Airlines, Delta, Etihad, Air New Zealand, South African Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. You can also book rewards with Virgin’s Asian partners like Silkair, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines.

Unfortunately this network pales in comparison to the Qantas oneworld alliance, however there is an alternative.

Singapore Airlines rewards via KrisFlyer

Although you can redeem Singapore Airlines flights directly through Velocity, there’s a problem with this approach – you may struggle to find reward space.

Unfortunately reward seats are very limited in high-value premium cabins, making it difficult to use your Velocity points for the most valuable point-booking opportunities. This is especially for long-haul flights to continental Europe and the UK – which although slightly more expensive, are easier to secure via KrisFlyer.

Why? Singapore Airlines only provide limited reward availability to their partners, like Velocity (they keep it for their own members). However, there’s a way around this bottleneck! Due to Virgin Australia’s strong partnership with Singapore Airlines, Velocity members can transfer their Velocity points directly to Singapore Airlines’ popular KrisFlyer program.

You’ll also gain access to a host of benefits that aren’t available through Velocity directly. These include Star Alliance redemptions, a host of ‘sweet-spot’ rewards, value-adding features like free stopovers and ‘open-jaw’ trips, and KrisFlyer’s own reward seat discount promotions.

Learn more about transferring your Velocity points to Krisflyer for Singapore Airlines redemptions in our dedicated guide.

Star Alliance rewards via KrisFlyer

By transferring your Velocity points to Krisflyer, you can also redeem Star Alliance reward flights. This gives you access to 25 additional carriers and even a Round-The-World redemption!

Star Alliance reward seats to, from and within the United States and Canada offer some of the best Velocity redemption value we’ve seen. So, if you’re travelling to the States, this article is must read! There are also some great local opportunities to be had – the standouts being flights from Perth and Adelaide to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Learn more about using your Velocity points for cheap Star Alliance flights in our dedicated guide.

Searching for Velocity Rewards

Unfortunately, only Virgin Australia and a limited number of partner airline reward seats show on the Virgin Australia website. This includes Singapore Airlines, Delta, Etihad, Silkair, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines.

All other rewards require you to phone Velocity’s call centre and inquire about availability (Air New Zealand, South African Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines and Alitalia). This is not ideal, however, there are some alternative search methods.

Method 1: Virgin Australia website

The best way to search for Velocity reward seats is through Virgin Australia’s website. To begin, check the ‘Points + Pay’ box and log in to your account. Add your destination, cabin-class and dates as per usual and hit the search button. The earliest you can search for Velocity rewards is 330 days in advance. That said, they may appear closer to your planned departure date – so keep searching!

Your fare results will be displayed in a similar layout to a standard search, with reward availability in the left columns. You can navigate through surrounding dates and modify your booking to search for availability. Be aware, ‘Any Seat’ redemptions are listed on the far right – these are poor value, so avoid this option.

The reward seat (be sure ‘reward’ is in the title) will serve-up the points required, plus taxes.

Virgin outlines the full Velocity point cost, including taxes, as the larger figure. This is generally poorer value than paying for the taxes in cash. For example, in the seat below, taxes are $90.51 or when incorporated in the top-line points figure, 14,000 points. This equates to a Guide Redemption Value (GRV) of 0.65c/point – relatively poor. Just pay your taxes in cash.

Finally, it’s important to note that Velocity reward seats cannot be combined with cash tickets within the same booking. Also, Singapore Airlines operated flights can’t be paired with flights operated by Etihad.

Method 2: Velocity call centre

For Air New Zealand, South African Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines and Alitalia Rewards you need to contact the Velocity’s reward seat redemption call centre.

Method 3: Other partner airline websites

As an alternative to phoning the Velocity call centre, you can search for potential reward seat availability via each partner airline’s own website. This is very much a guide, however, because you’ll have to confirm and book via the call centre.

Always take note of the lowest reward rate on each partner site. Most of the time these seats are tagged ‘Saver’ or similar.

You can view Virgin Atlantic reward seats across its mostly-Transatlantic network by searching on the Virgin Atlantic website. Simply add your flight information to the standard search and ensure you select the “Pay with miles” button. Virgin Atlantic’s Reward search is actually very good, allowing you to view reward availability in blocks up to 5 weeks!

Availability

In the past, Velocity has won awards for excellent reward seat availability across the Virgin Australia network. Sadly, due to increasing demand for popular international destinations like Los Angeles, it is no longer the case. Business redemptions on the LA route (one of the best value Velocity flight redemptions) are just about impossible to book.

That said, Domestic availability is still very good across all cabin classes, even when booking flights just weeks out from departure. This presents a lot of value if these flights suit you.

Virgin relies on its partner network for flights to Europe, which affects availability on partner carriers, especially in premium cabins. However, redemptions on Singapore Airlines are quite easy to secure to Asian destinations, and on a multi-stop itinerary via Asia to Europe.

To improve your options, it’s highly recommended that you investigate transferring your Velocity Points to Krisflyer where you can redeem Singapore Airlines flights directly. Krisflyer open up much more reward inventory to their own members, so this is a great option.

Learn more about availability, specific to your destination, in our redemption examples section.

Knowing when to search

Velocity’s Reward Seats generally come online 330 days prior to scheduled departure. For popular destinations in premium cabins (like Los Angeles and Hong Kong in Busines and Premium Economy) search a) early and b) often! Velocity reward bookings actually come with great flexibility, giving you the freedom to book early and change/cancel at a fraction of the cost of a discount cash fare!

Point cost rates

This section provides an indication of just how many Velocity points it will cost you to redeem a reward flight. Velocity has two rates depending on which airline operates the seat.

Note, reward seat costs are calculated on the full ‘trip’s’ distance. A trip may include one or more consecutive ‘flight sectors’. When you break the trip with a ‘stopover’ (a stopover is anything greater than 24 hours) or change to another partner airline, each of your sectors will be treated as a different trip (and as a result, be more expensive).

Virgin Australia Rate
Partner Rate
Virgin Australia Rate

Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Samoa, Air New Zealand (Trans Tasman only), Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Virgin America.

The main Velocity Reward Seat rate, which is better than the partner rate below.

Partner Rate

Air New Zealand (NZ dom. & long-haul only), Capital Airlines, Etihad, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Hawaiian Airlines, South African Airways.

The Velocity partner reward seats rate. This rate is around 25% higher than the standard Virgin Australia rate.

Taxes and airline-imposed fees

Velocity requires an airline-imposed co-payment on all reward seat redemptions. However, these are generally much lower than Qantas, especially on international treks. For example, a one-way Virgin Australia Economy reward to Los Angeles requires a tax co-payment of just over $100 vs nearly $500 with Qantas!

Any required tax co-payment will display on the Virgin Australia website’s search results.

Alternatively, you can use Google’s ITA Matrix, which estimates the tax co-payment. The most important airline-imposed fee to look out for (avoid) are airlines’ YQ surcharges (YQ = fuel surcharge).

Etihad reward seat surcharge

Another charge to be aware of is Velocity’s Etihad ‘Reward Seat Surcharge’ for travel on all Etihad operated flights. This really waters down Etihad redemptions. The fee is a hefty US$50 in Economy and US$205 in Business. Applicable per person and per flight sector. Learn more here.

With Velocity heavily reliant on Etihad for flights to Europe, you really don’t have a lot of options, so look at transferring your Velocity points to Krisflyer.

Velocity reward seat redemption value

To assist you in getting the most the value out of your points, we calculate a ‘Guide Redemption Value’ (GRV). Learn more about redemption valuation here. Remember, you may place less value on a particular flight that our GRV (e.g. you’d only willingly pay half price for a Business Class seat). Equally, you may place more value that our GRV (e.g. you need to desperately book an Economy flight just days before your scheduled departure, where the cash price is high).

To calculate our GRV in Economy, we use Virgin’s middle Economy fare (or a halfway point between their cheapest Discount Economy fare and their most flexible option). This is done to reflect the flexible nature of a reward booking, which is notably better than Virgin’s cheapest fare type. In Business, we simply take the cheapest ‘Sale’ fare.

Velocity Business Class rewards typically offer more value than Economy, which sits at about 1-1.5c/point. Business redemptions start at around 2c/point and can exceed 5c/point.

We summarise the GRV’s of popular Velocity reward flights below.

Velocity reward seat examples: cost, value & availability summary

In this section, we publish a number of popular domestic and international flights to compare their point cost, value and availability. Both Virgin Australia and partner airline fares are included in the international examples. These tables also summarise the required airline imposed fees. All content is indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Generally speaking, Velocity redemptions require marginally fewer points and a substantially smaller tax co-payments than Qantas.

Internationally, Velocity redemptions on their own metal offer some of the best redemption options for Aussie frequent flyers, however, Business redemptions suffer from low availability. Premium Economy can be a nice sweet-spot due to better availability. This is especially the case on Virgin Australia flights to the US, where premium cabin availability is difficult.

Domestic Economy

Velocity’s domestic rewards offer some nice value, especially when redeeming peak Economy fares attracting high cash fares. Availability is generally excellent.

Be sure to consider the great flexibility bundled with reward seats, which is a noticeable improvement on Virgin’s cheapest Economy tickets (this is why we value (GRV) our Economy redemptions closer to their mid-Economy fare). For example, Domestic rewards cost just $35 to change or have your points fully redeposited into your account, versus $80 to change and zero cancellation flexibility on Virgin’s cheapest sale fares. Economy rewards are more in-line with the carrier’s pricier ‘Elevate’ fare, where changes and cancellations attract a $50 fee (but still on this fare, cancellations are not fully refunded, you’ll only be left with credit, which you’re forced to use within 12 months).

Learn more about how we calculate the ‘GRV’ (Guide Redemption Value). If browsing on mobile, click on each row (+) to view the GRV, along with the estimated cash fare and a comment on this flight’s redemption availability.

Fares/taxes approx. values only & should only be used as a guide. Check directly with airline.

Domestic Business

Virgin Australia’s domestic Business Class offers great value. Availability is generally excellent across the board. Like Qantas, one of the best domestic options is east to west coast travel in ‘The Business’, Virgin Australia award-winning lie-flat business seats.

Learn more about how we calculate the ‘GRV’ (Guide Redemption Value). If browsing on mobile, click on each row (+) to view the GRV, along with the estimated cash fare and a comment on this flight’s redemption availability.

Fares/taxes approx. values only & should only be used as a guide. Check directly with airline.

International Economy

Velocity’s international reward seats can be good value, however, with Virgin Australia regularly discounting popular long-haul destinations at the back of the plane, it may be a good idea to save your points for a better redemption option. For example, Virgin has been offering sub-$800 discounts on Los Angeles Economy flights.

Again, consider the great flexibility bundled with reward seats, which is a noticeable improvement on Virgin’s cheapest Economy tickets (this is why we value (GRV) our Economy redemptions closer to their mid-Economy fare). For example, international rewards cost just $60 to change or cancel, versus up to $225 to change and up to $500 for a full refund of Virgin’s cheapest sale fares. Reward bookings are more in-line with the carrier’s mid-tier Economy fares, which offer more reasonable change fees. So if you need this flexibility, Economy rewards are good value.

Our international examples depart Sydney & Melbourne, however, requirements for other capitals are similar.

Learn more about how we calculate the ‘GRV’ (Guide Redemption Value). If browsing on mobile, click on each row (+) to view the GRV, along with the estimated cash fare and a comment on this flight’s redemption availability.

Fares/taxes approx. values only & should only be used as a guide. Check directly with airline.

International Business

Velocity’s international reward seats on Virgin Australia’s own aircraft offer some of the best redemption rates for Aussie frequent flyers – if you can find them.

Premium cabin rewards to the US and Hong Kong on Virgin’s own metal are notoriously limited. If you can find one of these, book it as soon as you can. Bear in mind changes and cancellations are cheap, so book first and think later!

Although Los Angeles in Business ranks highly in our best use of Velocity Points list, currently, we’re finding seats only exist for late-notice travel, scheduled just days out from departure. This won’t suit many, but it’s something to consider if you’re travelling on a whim, happy to risk other travel plans, or have Velocity Gold status and are therefore eligible to apply for a seat upgrade.

Our international examples depart Sydney & Melbourne, however, requirements for other capitals are similar.

Learn more about how we calculate the ‘GRV’ (Guide Redemption Value). If browsing on mobile, click on each row (+) to view the GRV, along with the estimated cash fare and a comment on this flight’s redemption availability.

Fares/taxes approx. values only & should only be used as a guide. Check directly with airline.

Tips for securing Velocity rewards

In the next section, we’ll look at the top tips for securing Velocity reward with Virgin Australia and its major partners.

Be flexible

As per most frequent flyer schemes, you’ll be more successful in securing a valuable reward if you are flexible.

Travel times, days, dates & locations
Book ahead
Keep Searching
Travel times, days, dates & locations

Be flexible with travel times and days – you’ll have much more success with non-peak days and times, like mid-week (Tuesday to Thursday) and less popular departure times. You’ll also need to be flexible with dates.

Finally, be flexible with departure and arrival cities and airports. For example, travelling to the UK? Velocity Reward Seats to other European cities like Paris or Frankfurt can offer much more availability. You’ll gain the added benefit of saving on taxes due to the UK’s high airport charges, which are passed onto you in the form of tax co-payments. Once you touch down in Europe, it’s both cheap and easy to find a budget carrier connecting flight to your end destination. Flights departing Asia also have more availability, so you could arrange paid travel on a budget airline to Asia, before booking a reward to Europe with much better availability than a direct long-haul flight from Australia.

Book ahead

Reward seats generally come online 330 days before scheduled departure. Search early and then often (see below). Velocity rewards actually come with great flexibility, which gives you the freedom to book early and change/cancel later!

Keep Searching

Reward seats don’t all become online at the 330-day mark. Many appear right up until the scheduled departure date. Search regularly to jag a bargain.

Good change/ cancellation flexibility

If you find a great Velocity reward seat, book it as soon as possible. This rule can’t be underlined enough! A benefit of Velocity redemptions is that they’re highly flexible. Cancellations and changes for domestic flights attract just a $35 fee for domestic flights and or $60 for international. Changes must be made at least 24 hours prior to departure.

With this in mind, an Economy reward booking is highly flexible against the cheapest Virgin Economy fare. For example, let’s say you want to cancel a Discount Economy ticket to the Los Angeles. Had you purchased the cheapest fare, you’d have to pay $500 to receive a full refund (versus just $60 for the equivalent reward seat). Rewards are more in line with the mid-point Economy fare, which is why we calculate our GRV as such.

See more in our change and cancellation comparison table below. Click on each row (+) for Discount Economy fare and reward seat’s conditions.

All changes can only be made via Virgin’s call centre.

Flight time & Date Changes
Route Changes
Cancellations
Flight time & Date Changes

Flight time and date changes are permitted. Changes must be requested at least 24 hours prior to scheduled departure of each sector. Domestic – $35 or 4,500 points per guest per booking. Fare differences payable. International – $60 or 7,500 points per guest per booking. Fare differences payable.

Route Changes

Route changes are allowed subject to availability and cost differences. Must be requested at least 24 hours prior to scheduled departure of each sector. Domestic – $35 or 4,500 points per guest per booking. Fare differences payable. International – $60 or 7,500 points per guest per booking. Fare differences payable.

Cancellations

Cancellations are allowed. Must be requested at least 24 hours prior to scheduled departure of each sector. Domestic – $35 or 4,500 Points per guest per booking. International – $60 or 7,500 Points per guest per booking.

You can redeem Velocity reward seats that are operated by Virgin’s partner airlines like Singapore Airlines and Etihad. Partner availability is usually more limited, however, if you contact the Velocity call centre directly and ask about availability around your planned dates, they may be able to find a reward that’s not published online.

If you’re departing from an overseas location, look into transferring your points to Krisflyer and redeeming Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance rewards.

Learn more about which Velocity partners to stick with when flying to/from each region below.

Asia
Europe
America/Canada
Pacific
Asia

Singapore Airlines is a great Velocity redemption option across its short and long-haul routes. Remember to check KrisFlyer for better Singapore Airlines availability, along with great options within Asia and to sweet-spot regions like South Africa.

Virgin Australia flights are also good value. Both do not attract any damaging tax co-payments.

Europe

Singapore Airlines is also a good choice for European destinations, including London. As always, plan your European/UK hubs carefully. We recommend you avoid Etihad redemptions altogether. They ask a lot of your points, plus there’s now a significant Etihad redemption surcharge to pay on every sector per person.

America/Canada

Virgin Australia offers the best value reward seats to the US (Los Angeles), however, availability is limited in premium cabins.

Singapore Airlines offers some great US options, however, availability also suffers if you want to travel at the pointy-end. As an alternative, shift your Velocity points over to KrisFlyer and redeem Singapore Airline’s flights direct with the popular carrier. Singapore Airlines open up more seats to their own members, so you’re in with a much better chance!

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll also find that KrisFlyer’s Star Alliance chart offers the best value intra-US/CA opportunities. Incredibly, Hawaii and Canada redeem at the same rate as the rest of the US, which makes long flights within the US/CA Region a great deal!

Although Etihad rewards are plentiful, they should be avoided due to the high ‘Etihad Reward Seat’ surcharge, which is added to every individual’s booking.

Pacific

Virgin Australia operated rewards offer some great availability to popular South Pacific holiday destinations like Fiji and Vanuatu. Business redemptions are good value with Virgin operating its award-winning lie-flat suites for these routes.

Transfer your Velocity Points to KrisFlyer for international flights

Velocity’s reward seat availability is severely limited on popular international flights, especially in Business Class. To overcome this you can transfer your Velocity points to Krisflyer and redeem Singapore Airlines flights directly. KrisFlyer open up more inventory to their own members and their reward chart offers some great sweet-spots.

Direct Singapore Airlines redemptions also permit more routing options and features. For example, you can fly via Singapore or Frankfurt on your way to the US West or East coast and even schedule a stopover or two (>24 hours) along the way for a nominal amount (stopovers can be quite expensive on many airlines).

Choose your transit hubs carefully

Airline-imposed fees aren’t the only contributors to airlines’ cash co-payments. The other main components are airport fees and government duties, which vary a lot between international destinations.

It’s handy to know what transit hubs to stick with, along with the regions and airports to avoid when booking Velocity rewards. We provide some comments on some notable transit hubs, along with some tips to avoid high taxing regions, below.

The table below summarises the tax state-of-play across the popular International destinations. Click on each region below to find out more.

Asia
UK
Europe
Asia

Hong Kong, Japan and to a lesser extent, Singapore, are great Asian hubs. Here, local law prohibits airlines from passing on any type of surcharge. So, a good option for Australian travellers is to make your own way to Asia (via a separate reward or on one of the many budget carriers) before connecting your travel to another destination. Virgin Australia and Singapore (Singapore hubs) are great Velocity options.

UK

Unfortunately, the UK Government imposes a major duty on all UK flight departures. This is a significant part each airline’s co-payment that you’ll pay when flying out of UK airports. The is large if you’re flying on a premium cabin fare, like Business. The higher taxes are not charged on arriving flights or transit flights.

There’s one trick with this one. If your travel plans allow, simply select a low-charge European transit hub as an alternative to the UK. Dublin or a Nordic city are good alternatives for low airport and government taxes. Simply book a low-cost connecting flight to/from the UK!

Europe

Airports in Scandinavia, Ireland and to a lesser extent Italy are good low-tax options. These can be great European entry/ exit points. Taxes at German and French airports can be pricey options.

Contact Velocity’s call centre for availability help

Velocity’s call centre can help you search for a reward seat. Their agents are generally quite accommodating in providing assistance with availability. They’re available 7.30am to 10.30pm weekdays (phone 13 18 75).

Other conditions to be aware of

Infant (no seat)
Points Earn
Baggage
Etihad Surcharge
Infant (no seat)

No ticket cost is charged, however tax co-payments must be paid.

Points Earn

Reward seat bookings do not earn points or status credits.

Baggage

Reward seats include complimentary checked baggage.

Etihad Surcharge

Velocity now enforces a reward seat surcharge for travel on Etihad operated flights. This is a nasty addition, especially given the charge is applied per each sector. The fee is US$50 in Economy and US$205 in Business. Applicable per person and per flight sector. One to consider if redeeming on Etihad long haul. In our opinion, it knocks Etihad redemptions on the head.

Pool your Velocity points for more buying power

Like Qantas, you can ‘pool’ your Velocity Points for more individual rewardsSeat redemption buying power. Velocity’s ‘Family Pooling’ also allows you to transfer status credits (unlike Qantas).

The rules are relatively simple, where eligibility is determined by family members living at the same address. A Family Pool can have up to six family members’ Velocity points and status credits forwarded automatically to a beneficiary. Learn more and set up Family Pooling online at the Velocity website.

Remember, reward seats can be booked in anyone’s name.

 

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