Will be the first time I have used Velocity points to attempt this flight. Not planning to travel until sometime next year, probably around Aug/Sep 2020.
Have accumulated a modest amount of Velocity points, currently have just over 300k with around another 100k lodged in other bank account programmes (just waiting for bonus transfer offers.) Aiming for around 500k by the time I need to book.
Would probably only get 3 weeks off work for this trip. Travelling with wife and 6 yo daughter and another baby on the way who would only be a few months old by the time we travel.
Keen to get opinions on the best way to travel to and from London. Was leaning towards Singapore Airlines given their reputation, but open to options. Ideally looking for a blend of comfort and convenience given we are travelling with the kids, was hoping a minimum of business class would be achievable. Not sure if it’s more economical (or feasible) to pay and upgrade, or whether to just use points outright for the seats.
Business Class and Upgrades
500k Velocity Points is sufficient for round trip economy class but for business, its a stretch.
Looking at upgrade options, there aren’t really any because every option of getting to London involves a partner airline other than Virgin Australia meaning you can’t use your Velocity points to get an upgrade.
How to get to London
There are three main ways to get to London with Velocity Points.
With this option you would be transiting Singapore Changi (which is awesome) and will be charged a minimal amount of taxes. Singapore Airline’s economy is not bad too as an added bonus.
This option will see you transitting the average Abu Dhabi terminal but the real con is the high taxes you will pay because of the charges Velocity adds on to the existing government taxes. Plus, with cost cutting in their product, the meal sizes, seat width is not great. You will have to pay for food outside of meal times.
Virgin (Australia + Atlantic)
The third option is quite unique. You can fly Virgin Australia’s flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong and then onwards to London with Virgin Atlantic. The products on both airlines are quite decent and this booking will have very low taxes and fees. The con is that, unlike the other two options, this can not be booked online with the Virgin Australia website. Instead, you have to call the Velocity.
Points or Cash
You can often find sub-$1000 economy fares to London even in summer peak season. In those cases, I would purchase with cash instead of using points (especially with the high taxes flying out of London).
If you want me to clarify anything more, feel free to ask!
The transfer rate from Velocity to Krisflyer is 1.55:1. So you’d lose about 35% of your points. As I said above, you are not guaranteed the upgrade. There are restrictions on what fares you need to purchase to upgrade. You need at least a Economy Standard ticket which is normally more expensive than the sale fares you can find online. Plus, it takes 198000 points for return upgrades from Australia to Europe, which means transferring 306900 velocity points. At that point, you might as well guarantee a business class seat by outright redeeming it.
Bloody hell that’s steep. I would prefer Singair vs a stopover in HK with Virgin given the unrest there. Admittedly things could change by next year but equally I’m not keen on that route unless I have to.
So ballpark figures, what would a redemption on business look like with Velocity points for 2 adults 1 child and 1 infant?
Have you considered a return revenue economy flight to Hong Kong and then business class in Virgin Atlantic? You should have enough points (I think it’s 501,000) for all three of you to fly business class from HK to London return. At least you will be in business for the longest stretch!
You would have lounge access, so depending on the flight connections, there is no need to leave the airport. Otherwise you could take your daughter to Disneyland and stay in a hotel close by (it’s quite far from CBD).
I think it’s about 139,000 points, one way to fly business class from Melbourne to London.
The baby won’t incur any additional points. Under Velocity, they just pay 10% of the taxes of the Adult fare (compare this to Singapore Airlines which charges 10% of the revenue fair of the business class ticket!)
Thanks for the informative reply @nlp28! Another really helpful perspective.
Looks like VA is the most cost effective way at this stage. Will have to do the maths to see how it best stacks up. I’m with you on taking the business option for the HKG-LHR route as it’s the longer one.
Given I have priority pass and AMEX Plat cards these will get me into a lounge at any airport and with kids in tow that gets us priority boarding generally anyway so will be sorted there. Disappointed to hear VA lounge at HKG was closed down in ?2018 so there is no gain there sadly…
Wondering if we can do SIN-LHR on the way out and then LHR-HKG on the way back. Keep things interesting!
I believe you can do both SIN and HKG transit in a single booking if you book over the phone. If not, splitting the booking wouldn’t be that hard anyway.
One thing to note is that by that point Hong Kong will (hopefully, and probably) return to normal. Plus, airport operations is still very much normal and very smooth.
Virgin Atlantic business class passengers access the Plaza Premium First Lounge which is actually quite nice so no need to lament the lost of the Clubhouse! Plus, you have the excellent Centurion Lounge to look forward to in Hong Kong as well! From a lounge perspective, Hong Kong has a better collection of them accessible to you than Singapore.
Business class award seats are quite a bit harder to get so I suggest you start your searching process for Virgin Atlantic award space. I’ve had some trouble booking Virgin Atlantic with Velocity points before so I will link this guide for you which will hopefully be of some use.
Thanks @djtech. I had previously read about the velocity call centre issues and trick to get it to work for this booking.
I’ve just looked through the entire post you linked including the comments. The final comment looks a bit ominous - have you booked this flight recently (or at least since the comment was made in June 2019?) - I’ve copied the comment below:
It seems that Velocity can no longer get any Virgin Atlantic Upper class (G) seats confirmed, I have tried multiple times over the past couple of months with different itineraries that EF are showing a few seats available, I’ve walked through the long sell process with several different agents and verified that they are doing it correctly but every time it goes from NN to PN and then comes back UC. There is either a breakdown in the system that needs fixing or VS are purposefully withholding the inventory from them.
Ok that’s good to know @djtech. I will report back once I’m actually in a position to book. A few moving parts at the moment to negotiate before we can lock a date in for travel. Thanks all for the advice!
The plot thickens. Just found out that a friend is getting married in Bali. So we will plan to attend en route to London. Initial thoughts are to use points to fly into SIN as it’s closer than say HKG. Then pay cash for the return flight to Denpasar. Then points to get us from SIN to LHR. Does that sound like the most efficient route?
Singapore would be more convenient for flying with Singapore Airlines in terms of timing and points.
If you are doing a return trip (MEL-SIN-LHR-SIN-MEL) using Krisflyer miles (region based), you get a free stopover, which you could use in Singapore. Then buy a separate return ticket to Bali.
However, if using Velocity points (distance based), there are no free stopovers so the point costs would be the same however you swing it via Singapore (however, the distance would be shorter (~800miles).
Your plan sounds fine to me. Not sure whether there are more efficient ways to do it. The critical path is finding award seats to and from LHR (or EU).
What makes you say that? Sure Virgin Australia themselves won’t be flying internationally in the foreseeable future, but once Virgin re-launches, what makes you think you won’t be able to use Velocity points for redemptions with partner airlines.