One of the headline benefits of the American Express Velocity Platinum card is the free domestic return flight on Virgin Australia that’s offered each cardholder year.
There are a few things to know to be able to use the flight for maximum value, so I thought I’d run through some of the detail on how to redeem the flight and do so most effectively.
Here is the interactive map that shows valid routes from Sydney, for example:
and here is the full list of available destinations from each origin airport:
|Departure City||Arrival Cities|
|Adelaide||Brisbane, Canberra, Coolangatta, Melbourne|
|Brisbane||Adelaide, Cairns, Canberra, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Mackay, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney, Proserpine, Rockhampton, Townsville|
|Canberra||Adelaide, Brisbane, Coolangatta, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Coffs Harbour||Melbourne, Sydney|
|Coolangatta||Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Hamilton Island||Brisbane, Sydney|
|Hobart||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Melbourne||Adelaide, Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Coolangatta, Mildura, Canberra, Hobart, Launceston, Maroochydore , Newcastle, Sydney|
|Perth||Adelaide, Broome, Karratha, Newman, Port Hedland, Sydney|
|Sydney||Adelaide, Albury, Ballina/Byron, Brisbane, Canberra, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Coolangatta, Hamilton Island, Hervey Bay, Hobart, Launceston, Maroochydore, Melbourne, Mackay, Port Macquarie, Townsville|
Not every route on the Virgin Australia domestic network is included with the free flight offer – one of the key things to note is that you can fly from Perth to Sydney or Adelaide return but not the other way around; and the same holds true for only being able to fly from Sydney to Adelaide return but not departing the City of Churches.
Earning Velocity points and status credits on the free flight
Earning points and status seems to be hit and miss.
According to the terms, there are no points and status credits on offer for the American Express redemption flights, but sometimes it can work. Assume you won’t get any, and if you get lucky, it’s a bonus.
Upgrading your flight to Business Class using your Velocity points
Upgrades using your Velocity points may be possible with your free flight booking – it’s essentially a Saver fare for upgrade purposes, so the same upgrade process should apply as if you’d booked the ticket outright.
Researching and making your free flight booking
You may be able to book this flight through this website, which would be the quickest method. If you cannot—as some readers have commented—follow the instructions below:
Saver-level availability showing on the Velocity website is not a guaranteed indicator that American Express will be able to book the flight you are after, but is a good starting point.
You’ll then work through the booking details with American Express by calling 1300 366 105 from within Australia or +61 2 9271 8655 from overseas between 9am and 6pm AEST Monday to Friday.
However, there is word that Velocity is taking care of these bookings itself by calling 13 67 89.
Try the options above in the order that they are listed and please share your experience in the comments below.
Other info and terms of the free Virgin Australia flight
These are the key terms of the free flight on both cards:
- You will get a new free flight available to book every cardholder (not calendar) year – meaning once the next annual fee has hit your statement you can go ahead and book and another flight
- You’ll access the free flight benefit after your first card spend in the first year, and then after your first card spend each year after the anniversary of your membership
- The flight has to be booked as a return with specific dates on both legs (you can’t leave the return open-ended)
- The flight must be return, i.e. not two one-ways like Melbourne to Cairns and then Brisbane to Melbourne
- You can book the flight in someone else’s name
- You can make changes to the departure date up to 24 hours prior to departure for an $107 fee
- Once booked, you can’t change the name of the travelling passenger on the flight if you cancel – your ‘refunded’ flight is in the form of a booking which has to be used by the same passenger you booked originally
- If you cancel and rebook, there may be a fare difference which you’ll need to pay if the flight you are rebooking onto is significantly more expensive than the one you were originally on.
All up – it’s not a particularly flexible ticket, so I’d avoid using it for travel where you need flexibility.
What else is there to consider?
Don’t let the free flight go unused if you haven’t booked it by the time your annual fee comes due.
You should always try and use the flight before the end of your Card Membership year, and there are two ways to get use out of the flight even if you don’t have firm travel plans yet.
Do you have any tentative plans for any time in the next year? If so, you can book your flight a year out from the date of booking, and if you are close to your annual fee renewal date and haven’t used the flight yet, consider trips you might be taking and tentatively book them in.
Even if you don’t end up taking them, at least the flight wasn’t left completely unused.
Secondly, have a think about whether there’s anyone you know who would be able to use the flight. It’s totally possible to book it in someone else’s name.
You can also book a free trip for two people by timing your flight redemptions carefully. By booking one redemption just before the end of your cardholder year (and using the flight for that year) and then one just after your annual fee is due (using the flight for the following year), you could use two flights for a trip any time up to around 330 days into the future.