Australian airlines cut customers a break earlier this week with the announcements that Qantas frequent flyers would receive a 12-month status extension and that Virgin Australia Velocity members would receive free frequent flyer points proportionate to what they would usually earn over the next three months, to make up for their point amassing potential being curtailed by the Coronavirus.
Virgin Australia to roll out a monthly serve of free status credits for Velocity frequent flyers – although we have to say, Qantas’ approach of an entire free year of status is a far more generous offer https://t.co/tYQjXUmXTe #PaxEx
— Executive Traveller (@AusBT) March 18, 2020
The general consensus was that Qantas’ offer was more generous, with frequent first-class flyer Immanuel Debeer, founder of frequent flyer point hacking website Flight Hacks, telling DMARGE on Wednesday, “I feel that Virgin Australia misread the situation and went a similar route as Cathay Pacific. Qantas on the other hand pulled out all the stops [and] is now offering the most generous status extension out there.”
“I think both marketing teams knew from each other that they were working on a deal but of course they didn’t know the specifics.”
“It will be interesting to see if other airlines loyalty programs follow Qantas’ lead and extend status by a full 12 month,” he continued, in a statement that has now proved prophetic, as Virgin Australia has now updated their offer to match Qantas and go one better.
“The situation in Australia relating to coronavirus is rapidly evolving, as is our response as a business. This situation has developed further in the last couple of days since we developed the below Status Credit gift offer, and we’re really pleased to have an additional announcement,” Virgin Australia told DMARGE yesterday.
Awesome for frequent flyers like me – to offset #COVID19Aus stoppage Virgin Australia is extending Silver/Gold/Platinum frequent flyer memberships for next 12 months #VirginAustralia https://t.co/96w0oPlRHw
— Ross Wilson (@rosswilsonmusic) March 19, 2020
Velocity Frequent Flyer is now providing members with a 12-month extension of their current status tier, in addition to their Status Credit gift. This means all Silver, Gold and Platinum Velocity members will receive: the below Status Credit gift and a 12 month extension to their current status (meaning that there are no minimum flight sectors required for members to maintain their current tier for the next year).
“We know these times are tough, and it’s particularly hard where travel is concerned. In this changing environment, the safety and needs of our members and guests are key and we are really pleased to be able to offer this 12-month Status extension in addition to the Status Credit gift. We hope it gives them some peace of mind,” Virgin said yesterday.
Virgin Australia has just informed me my gold status will be automatically extended for 12 months due to Coronavirus. I cant buy loo roll but at least if i get desperate i can make the 500km round trip to use the lounge dunny.#auspol
— 💧LubiePhilrunfreeFionn (@lubiephil) March 19, 2020
Fair play. But also smart: as frequent flyer Imannuel told us: “In the end, when/if things go back to normal, they will need their most loyal customers on their side.”
International Virgin Australia flights will be grounded from the 30th March until at least the 14th June 2020. It is also temporarily reducing domestic flights by around 50% (Qantas has done much the same).
The Australian government has also imposed mandatory self-isolation for all inbound international passengers, and DFAT has updated its travel advice for the entire world to “do not travel” due to the spreading Coronavirus. In addition, the Australian government has announced a temporary ban on non-Australian residents from entering the country.