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Virgin Velocity redemptions restart early

Posted: 21 July 2020 8:00 am
News

Virgin plane at terminal

Rewards flights open from 21 July across 152 routes, along with hotel bookings and car hire.

Virgin Australia Velocity has reopened reward flight redemptions a little ahead of schedule.

Having paused reward flights once the coronavirus pandemic kicked in and it was forced into administration, Virgin had then resumed bookings for flights from 1 September 2020. It has now opened up reward bookings from today (21 July), and says that they will be available across 152 routes, up from 76 previously.

Virgin says that 97% of its scheduled flights now have some reward seat availability. Take that figure with a pinch of salt: it includes Points Plus Pay, which offers far less value. But there are definitely more choices than before. International routes are still out for now, though.

The big unanswered question is whether frequent flyers will dive onto those flights. Next month, creditors will vote on Bain Capital's buyout proposal. That's not guaranteed to go through; existing Virgin Australia bond holders are still pushing an alternative proposal. As such, future routes don't have 100% certainty.

More immediately, restrictions on interstate travel mean many routes are effectively off the table anyway. I can't see anyone grabbing reward flights to Melbourne ahead of 1 September, given that the state capital remains in COVID-19 lockdown.

One upside? Bookings remain (relatively) flexible. You can change or cancel any reward booking before 1 September without penalty.

The 800,000 hotel rooms

If you don't fancy jumping on a plane just yet, other choices for redeeming points have also been reintroduced. Points can be used for hotel rooms through Virgin Hotels and for Europcar car hire. Both options had been paused during administration.

Virgin says 800,000 rooms are available and the points needed for hotels are, on average, 15% lower than last year – no surprise given the current challenges in the tourism industry. Bookings of 3 days or more with Europcar also score a 10% discount, which rises to 20% for luxury bookings.

It remains a good month for accumulating points. There's a current 15% bonus offer on converting flybuys points into Velocity Points.

However, other redemption options (such as gift cards) are still unavailable. Those don't offer the same bang for buck as flights, but some Velocity members are perhaps going to be tempted by them when they do return. Me? I'll look into some flights for late in the year, but right now I'm still in build mode, not redeem mode.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on Finder.

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