“REFUSE IF YOU WANT TO CHOOSE”24/03/2009
VIRGIN BLUE WARNS FREQUENT FLYERS
Tuesday 24 March 2009: Virgin Blue today launched a national ad campaign questioning the practice of forcing consumers to sign up for a specific credit card and warning frequent fliers not to be duped out of flexibility and freedom of choice.
Virgin Blue says the campaign “Refuse if you want to Choose” follows plans by Qantas to force millions of credit card holders to lock in the Qantas Frequent Flyer option on their card loyalty program by the end of this month. Virgin Blue says doing so would effectively cut off consumer options to maximise their points by choosing the airline with the best redemption on any given day.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, has urged consumers not to be coerced into locking in to one program and locking themselves out of all others.
“There is no need for Australian credit card holders to make any changes to their current credit card provider and certainly no need for them to be duped into limiting their options. Customers who choose not to lock into the Qantas program will be able to redeem their points with other airline programs, and many credit cards also offer a direct booking option with any airline, including Qantas, which means they will also be able to shop around and get the best deal on the day.”
He continued, “We believe reward programs should be transparent, competitive and earn the choice of consumers, not force people into choosing them,” he said.
“Competition is what keeps airlines and frequent flyer programmes honest yet under our competitor’s scheme, once people have signed up, there’s no real need to work hard to provide their members with the best deal.
“When Virgin Blue developed our Velocity frequent flyer programme, our research told us there was little existing trust in incumbent airline frequent flyer programmes and consumers were dubious and frustrated about the genuine availability and accessibility of reward flights in the so called loyalty programmes then on offer in Australia,” he said.
“It was also recognised that when Qantas Frequent Flyer was the only Australian airline frequent flyer program (between the collapse of Ansett and its frequent flyer program in Sept 2001 and the launch of Velocity in November 2005), Qantas increased the number of points required for its own members to redeem flights. We are simply saying don’t get caught again.”
For Australians who want to use their credit card points to top up points earned through flying - Virgin Blue's Velocity program is a real alternative and offers better value rewards with less points required for reward seats than QFF:
Velocity also offers a wide range of international earn and burn options though our international air partners including V Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Hawaiian, Malaysian, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue.
Velocity pioneered the “any seat” redemption option in the Australian domestic market, which is available on all Velocity partners and provided the catalyst for Qantas to follow suit, albeit not across all its partners.
Brett Godfrey added, “Since Velocity launched three and a half years ago, Qantas has not only copied our 'any seat' option, it has also significantly increased the number of seats available for redemption and improved the range of non-air reward options to compete with Velocity.
“With this latest move to dupe frequent flyers into locking into Qantas only, once they have members tied up with direct earn cards, they no longer have the incentive to keep improving their offering and members will have no choice but to cop it sweet.”
“We are simply saying, consumers should be circumspect and not be pressured to sign away their freedom to choose.
“That’s not loyalty, that’s trickery. We say refuse to choose which means you can reap the rewards of competition, it really is that simple”, he said.
Velocity Points values are based on Virgin Blue redemption class fares unless otherwise indicated. Redemption values are valid as at 23/03/09 and are subject to change. Qantas Frequent Flyer Points values are based on one way economy class redemption fares with Qantas unless otherwise indicated and are shown on the points calculator at www.qantas.com.au as at 23 March 2009
Velocity is operated by Velocity Rewards Pty Ltd as trustee of the Loyalty Trust. Velocity Membership is subject to the Velocity Rewards Terms and Conditions of Membership available at www.velocityrewards.com.au