UPDATE – this issue is now fixed!
I’ve been researching and booking a range of travel plans for mid 2014 over the last few months, which include coming back from the East Coast of the USA to Australia via Honolulu. It’s a neat route to fly if you’re keen to stop over somewhere other than LA or San Francisco, and I’ve been planning to book the Honolulu to Sydney leg on Hawaiian Airlines using Velocity points, at 45,000 points per person – 180,000 points for the whole family in Economy.
It’s not the best value redemption, with paid fares running at around $900 on Hawaiian and much less on Jetstar, but it is super flexible with Virgin’s partner redemption rules of no cancellation fees, and taxes of only $29 per person.
This is where it gets interesting, and where I start getting annoyed with Velocity, as there’s information here that they should be communicating to their members, but aren’t.
I made three phone calls within the space of 6 weeks to Velocity in researching this booking. The first was to check seat availability, and to see if it matched that available through Hawaiian’s own website – in my case, it did. Not sure if this is a general rule, but worth knowing for your own research purposes. In this call Velocity confirmed the availability and advised me for the first time that bookings were ‘temporarily’ not available with Hawaiian. I didn’t think much of it, as I wasn’t ready to book.
The second call was around 3 weeks later, where I reconfirmed the availability, and also asked whether these seats appeared bookable to the phone agent. He thought they were, so I then transferred the 180,000 points over to Velocity to make the booking in the near future.
Moving on a couple of weeks, I finally got around to actually making the booking. I called Velocity back again, went through the process of searching for availability, to be told once more that Hawaiian Airlines redemptions are still not available with Velocity points. The agent blamed Hawaiian Airlines this time.
Clearly, this leaves me personally in a bit of a bind. I’ve transferred a significant chunk of points from Membership Rewards to Velocity to make this booking, yet can’t actually do so, losing me the additional value and flexibility of having those points in Membership Rewards. In the meantime, the award availability may disappear, and there’s nothing Velocity will (or maybe can do) to hold these seats, which are the last of 4 flights. Losing the points availability will cost me at least $3k for a cash booking instead.
If you’re considering looking at bookings using Velocity points on Hawaiian Airlines right now, don’t. The problem has been ongoing for at least a couple of months, so look elsewhere until this issue is resolved, if at all. The most irritating thing is the inconsistent information from Velocity, and their lack of communication to members of this problem on the Velocity website.
What Velocity need to do
Regardless of who is to blame, this is what Velocity should do if they want to avoid annoying anyone else:
- Inform anyone who mentions Hawaii, Honolulu or Hawaiian Airlines enquiring over the phone about redemptions that Hawaiian Airlines isn’t a redeemable partner until further notice
- Place messages outlining the problem on these pages of their website – here, here and here.
- Get this issue fixed.
I have my personal circumstances being looked at by the Velocity contact centre – I love the written access that using [email protected] offers, they have been good at resolving questions and enquiries in the past. I’ll update this post with what they come back with in terms of a resolution, if any.