Another day, another new award surcharge! This time it’s called a “carrier charge” and it’s being introduced by Virgin Australia for all bookings made on or after January 1, 2019. The fee applies to all Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines operated and marketed flights between Sydney and Los Angeles when redeeming Velocity Rewards points. The program is allowing members to pay the new fee with cash, points, or a combination of cash and points. Business class flights between Los Angeles and Sydney will be charged an extra $230 each way. Premium economy and economy are a bit more economical at $145 and $60 respectively. The program notes that this is to help them cover award seat costs and is “in line” with other carriers.
To cover ongoing associated costs of Velocity Reward Seats, a carrier charge will be introduced for bookings made on or after 1 January 2019, on all Virgin Australia operated flights; and Delta Air Lines operated and marketed flights between Sydney and Los Angeles. This is in line with local industry practice and Velocity still remains very competitive and well below the price charged by our competitors for domestic flights.
For the past six years, Velocity Frequent Flyer has been recognised for having the best redemption ability for Middle East/Asia Oceania.5 This change will still ensure Velocity has the most competitive domestic offering of any frequent flyer program in Australia.
To rub some salt in the wound, the airline loyalty program notes that new fee will also incur additional charges if paid online or on the phone using a debit or credit card, likely the two most common methods of payment.
The carrier charge must be paid at time of booking and may be paid in Points or by debit/credit card. All payments made on the internet or on the phone via debit/credit card are subject to a payment surcharge between 0.6% to 1.3% of the total value of the card transaction (capped at $40 for domestic and $70 for international, per passenger per booking). The total amount for taxes, fees and carrier charge must be paid using one payment method. Taxes, fees and carrier charges are not eligible for Points earn.
Trans-pacific joint venture partner Delta never provides adequate advanced notice for any SkyMiles changes, so there’s no word yet on whether the airline has similar plans. However, there’s not much to currently worry about as Delta has drastically reduced the once plentiful inventory of Virgin Australia award seats.