Carrier charges are somewhat of a ‘necessary evil’ when it comes to using points for reward seats – particularly on popular top-tier airlines. It’s essentially a surcharge for using points to fly on an airline with reward seats – on top of the usual airport taxes you need to pay.

Velocity Frequent Flyer actively discloses the carrier charges on their website. At the time of writing, Virgin Australia, Etihad and Qatar Airways reward bookings have carrier charges. Velocity will also introduce a Singapore Airlines carrier charge for rewards booked from 5 October 2022.

Singapore Airlines carrier charges with Velocity Points

Singapore Airlines bookings with Velocity Points will soon be subject to carrier charges from 5 October 2022. Thankfully, the rates aren’t as high as Qatar Airways or Etihad. In fact, flights under 4,200 miles (which includes all flights from Australia to Singapore) share a similarly low rate.

One-Way MilesEconomy ($USD)Premium Economy ($USD)Business ($USD)First ($USD)
0 – 4,200$30$60$90$90

Once the new carrier charges kick in, we expect the Virgin Australia booking engine will convert the charges to Australian dollars. Lap infants will also be charged 10% of the adult rate.

Singapore Airlines Suites
When we can eventually book Singapore Airlines First Class and Suites with Velocity Points, there’ll be new charges to pay.

Singapore Airlines isn’t adding a carrier charge to reward seats booked through its own KrisFlyer program. So you could potentially avoid them by transferring your points from Velocity to KrisFlyer, though you’ll probably end up using more points than it’s worth to save on the charges.

Virgin Australia carrier charges with Velocity Points

Virgin Australia’s own carrier charges are reasonably small. Different charges apply for domestic, trans-Tasman and international short-haul.

Domestic Australia$11.00 (incl. GST)$11.00 (incl. GST)
International Short Haul$35.00$70.00

International short-haul flights include those to the Pacific Islands (e.g. Fiji) and Southeast Asia (e.g. Bali).

Virgin Australia tail
Virgin Australia levies from $11 to $70 in carrier charges.
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Qatar Airways carrier charges with Velocity Points

You can now use Velocity Points to book a reward seat on Qatar Airways. But a carrier charge applies to all bookings, varying by cabin class and distance flown.

One-way milesEconomy
0 – 1,000$25$85$200
1,001 – 2,000$40$165$260
2,001 – 3,000$50$180$280
3,001 – 4,000$55$200$290
4,001 +$60$230$300

The Virgin Australia website booking engine automatically converts the carrier charges into Australian Dollars when you search for rewards. Infants not occupying a seat are charged at 10% of the adult rate.

Qatar Boeing 787-9 Business Cabin
Fly Qatar Airways Business Class across the globe with Velocity Points.

Etihad carrier charges with Velocity Points

Etihad was one of the first Virgin Australia partners to introduce a hefty carrier charge, especially for Business and First Class. The current rates in Economy and Business are identical to Qatar Airways, but the First Class carrier charge is a bit higher.

One-way milesEconomy
0 – 1,000$30$150$280
1,001 – 2,000$40$165$290
2,001 – 3,000$50$180$300
3,001 – 4,000$55$200$310
4,001 +$60$230$320

As with Qatar Airways rewards, Etihad’s carrier charges are shown in Australian dollars and included in the total cash payment when you search for a reward seat on the Virgin Australia website.

Fly Etihad Business Class out of Sydney and Melbourne.

Summing up

There’s no denying that carrier charges add another layer of costs that makes travelling even more expensive. It’s usually the operating airline that instigates the charge, with Velocity Frequent Flyer being required to pass those costs on.

In an ideal world, we would love to focus on using points on airlines that only charge the necessary taxes and surcharges. Indeed, you can continue booking on United, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, and Hawaiian Airlines with Velocity Points, but without extra carrier charges.

But Etihad, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines are all major global carriers with excellent onboard products and far-reaching networks, and they know it. If you want to take advantage of these coveted reward seats, you’ll need to pay up.

In comparison, Emirates is still charging unusually high (and frankly, unreasonable) carrier charges on rewards booked with Qantas Points or Skywards miles – more than double what Etihad and Qatar Airways currently charge with Velocity Points.

In terms of value, Velocity Frequent Flyer is still a standout program to consider in Australia.

Reminder: Velocity adding carrier charges for Singapore Airlines from 5 October was last modified: August 25th, 2023 by Brandon Loo