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.
However, 2020 is a turbulent year for Virgin Australia, to say the least. Here are the details on how to redeem the flight effectively, particularly with Virgin Australia being in voluntary administration and COVID-19 crippling the travel industry.
Has COVID-19 affected the free flight benefit?
Customers with a free flight credit expiring between 1 February 2020 and 30 June 2020 will now have it extended to 31 December 2020. This is the cut-off date to book your flight, so you can still fly well into 2021.
You can still use any existing free flight credits to book a Virgin Australia return flight, where seats are available.
Where can I fly with the free flight benefit?
Visit the interactive map to see what Virgin Australia routes are available for redemption currently, last updated in July 2019. Below are two screenshots: one from Sydney and one from Perth.
Here is the full list of available destinations from each origin airport:
|Departure City||Arrival Cities|
|Adelaide||Alice Springs, Brisbane, Canberra, Coolangatta, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Brisbane||Adelaide, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Emerald, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Mackay, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney, Proserpine, Rockhampton, Townsville|
|Canberra||Adelaide, Brisbane, Coolangatta, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Coolangatta||Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Hamilton Island||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Hobart||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Melbourne||Adelaide, Brisbane, Coolangatta, Mildura, Canberra, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Launceston, Maroochydore, Newcastle, Sydney|
|Perth||Adelaide, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Sydney||Adelaide, Albury, Ballina/Byron, Brisbane, Canberra, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Coolangatta, Hamilton Island, Hervey Bay, Hobart, Launceston, Maroochydore, Melbourne, Mackay, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, 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 Perthians arguably get the best deal here. You can fly from Perth to Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide return, but not the other way around.
Can I earn points and Status Credits on the free flight?
The official line is that Velocity Points and Status Credits cannot be earned on American Express Velocity Platinum free flights. That’s fair enough.
Unofficially, the way that the flight is booked means that often you might possibly earn Velocity Points and Status Credits at the Economy ‘Getaway’ rate for each flight sector. This isn’t guaranteed though.
Can I upgrade my free flight to Business Class?
The official answer is again ‘no’. But upgrades using your Velocity points may still be possible with the free flight booking. It’s essentially a Getaway fare for upgrade purposes, so the same upgrade process should apply as if you’d booked the ticket outright.
Read our comprehensive guide to Virgin Australia upgrades to see how you could use Velocity Points to upgrade your free flight. You can also submit cash upgrade offers through the Velocity UpgradeMe Bid tool.
Velocity Platinum frequent flyers will be able to select Economy X extra-legroom seating at no additional cost with these free flights, as usual. All other passengers can pay the associated charges while selecting seats.
How do I book my Amex Velocity free flight?
You should be able to redeem this flight through the dedicated complimentary flight booking portal, which is the quickest method.
- Visit this site: http://compflight.virginaustralia.com/
- Log in to the Velocity account associated with your American Express Velocity Platinum credit card. If you have a valid free flight credit, it will progress to the booking page. If not, an error will appear.
- Enter your origin, destination and flight dates.
- Choose from the available flights on the following pages.
- Enter the passenger’s details — it doesn’t have to be you.
- Click ‘Complete Booking’ to redeem your free flight. There is nothing to pay — not even fees or taxes.
Important info about the Amex Velocity free flight
These are the key terms of the free flight on the card:
- You can book the flight in someone else’s name.
- You will get a new free flight once every cardholder (not calendar) year. This means 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).
- For the experts out there, each flight must be a non-stop Virgin Australia-operated flight booked in the Getaway fare classes ‘T’ or ‘Q’. You could use ExpertFlyer to search for fare availability.
- The flight can only be a direct return journey between two approved cities. Multi-city bookings aren’t allowed and if you only book one-way, you forfeit the return leg.
- Once booked, you can’t change the name or route, nor can you cancel the booking.
- You can change the time/date of the flight by calling Virgin Australia on 1300 153 006 (within Australia) or +61 7 3119 7006 from overseas. Change fees and fare differences may apply.
All up — it’s not a particularly flexible ticket, so we’d avoid using it for travel where you need flexibility. It’s great for booking annual holidays in advance, particularly over peak periods if you get in early.
Here are the full terms and conditions.
The free flight benefit that comes each year that you hold the American Express Velocity Platinum card is a big win for cardmembers. Used right, you could snag a booking that would normally cost a lot more than the $375 annual fee for the card.
Those planning to travel over major holidays such as Christmas and Easter should find free seats available on most flights around 6-9 months ahead. Be sure to research which routes are available from your home airport.
Remember, you can book this flight in someone else’s name. Rather than letting the flight go to waste, booking it for a friend or family member would be a great idea if you had no other use for it.
One other tip is to carefully plan when you pull the trigger on the free flight if you want to fly as a pair. You could book the first passenger close to the end of your card year, then the second passenger once you receive your new free flight credit for the following card year.
Frequently asked questions
Read this guide for detailed instructions on how to redeem your free American Express Velocity Platinum card free flight.
Under normal circumstances, no. But if your free flight has been impacted by COVID-19, contact Virgin Australia and they may be able to cancel the flight and re-credit the free flight back to your account for future use.
How about you? Any great tips for getting more out of your flight, or good trips you’ve had when using it?
Guide originally written by Matt Moffit. Featured image background courtesy Virgin Australia.