Virgin Australia’s 6.4 million Velocity frequent flyer members will be able to earn points and status credits from their supermarket shopping from today after the program linked up with the flybuys loyalty scheme.
In broad terms, the Velocity-flybuys partnership mirrors the one between Qantas and the Woolworths Rewards scheme, with shoppers earning points from purchases such as groceries and alcohol which can be converted to frequent flyer points.
One difference though is the ability to earn status credits – which determine a member’s eligibility for silver, gold or platinum tiers in the Velocity frequent flyer program – from the Velocity-flybuys partnership.
Velocity chief executive Karl Schuster said this was the only way a member of Virgin’s frequent flyer program could earn status credits outside of flying.
“Velocity and flybuys have created an unrivalled proposition in the Australian market by providing the opportunity for members to earn status credits when they do their grocery or liquor shopping and present their flybuys card, which we know is extremely valuable to our members,” Schuster said in a statement on Thursday.
Under the scheme, every $100 spent at Coles supermarkets, Coles online, Liquorland and First Choice Liquor every calendar month will earn one status credit, up to a maximum of 10 status credits per calendar month.
Therefore those looking to secure a shiny silver, gold or platinum Velocity card will still need to take to the skies – it takes 250 status credits and two eligible Virgin flights to reach silver.
As far as points are concerned, it is perhaps no surprise that the earning rates for both Velocity-flybuys and Qantas-Woolworths are identical.
That is, transferring 2,000 flybuys points will net 870 Velocity points. There is an annual transfer limit of 138,000 flybuys points, which represents 60,030 Velocity points.
Similarly, 2,000 Woolworths Rewards points equals 870 Qantas frequent flyer points.
Members have to link their Velocity account to flybuys, which has about 27 points-earning partners, to participate in the scheme.
The general manager of flybuys Adam Story said the ability to transfer flybuys points to Velocity frequent flyer points gave its members the ability to redeem their points for flights.
“Right now, flybuys members have enough points to transfer to Velocity Frequent Flyer and redeem millions of flights with Virgin Australia,” Story said.
flybuys also has an existing partnership with Virgin shareholder and alliance partner Etihad Airways.
Woolworths cut ties with Qantas in 2015 as part of efforts to revamp its Woolworth’s Rewards scheme. However, the supermarket giant re-established links with Qantas earlier in 2016 in response to a customer backlash and a lukewarm reception to its new Rewards scheme.
Thursday’s announcement means Australia’s two largest airlines have now linked up with the nation’s two biggest supermarket chains.