A retired Tasmanian grandfather has hit the jackpot, taking home the major prize in Virgin Australia’s VA-X & Win competition and becoming a Velocity Frequent Flyer Points millionaire overnight, for simply rolling up his sleeve and helping to protect the community against COVID-19.
Ian Marchant, 73, a former flight instructor, was one of over 400,000 vaccinated Australians who entered VA-X & Win, and now has enough Velocity Points to travel around the world in Economy six times thanks to Virgin Australia and Velocity’s extensive domestic and international airline partner network.
Marchant, who is a self-confessed “aviation buff” once held a commercial pilot’s license and prior to his retirement had worked as a flight instructor at the former Essendon Airport in Melbourne, before moving to Hobart to work in flight operations at the Australian Antarctic Division.
Marchant’s first priority is to use his points to reconnect with friends and family he hasn’t seen as a result of travel restrictions due to the pandemic. He also plans to take his two adult children and two grandchildren on a family holiday to England.
Speaking from his home in Bonnet Hill, a short drive from Hobart, Marchant said he couldn’t believe his luck when Virgin Australia notified him that he’d won one million Velocity Frequent Flyer Points.
“I’m incredibly humbled and still can’t quite believe I’ve won one million Velocity Points! It’s truly life changing,” he said.
“My wife and I would have stayed in Hobart in our retirement but now we can travel to the mainland, travel across the world, reunite with old friends and family and visit areas of Australia we have never seen before.
“When I found out I won the million points I reached out to my old school teacher who lives in Bournemouth England and taught me over 65 years ago. We’ve had an incredible relationship over the years, and it’s going to be so special to take my family and our grandkids to go visit her.”
To indulge in his passion for aviation, Marchant plans on using some of his Points to touchdown on New Zealand’s famous Queenstown runway, as the very technical landing strip has always fascinated the former flight instructor.
“The Queenstown approach by aircraft has always fascinated me and is something I’ve never done before. I still have that passion for aviation so that is something I’d love to be able to do with the points,” said Marchant.
“I strongly support people being vaccinated and it was wonderful Virgin Australia took on the role of promoting vaccination. If I were 20 years younger, I’d be flying for Virgin,” he laughed.
Velocity Frequent Flyer CEO, Nick Rohrlach congratulated Marchant on becoming a Velocity Points millionaire.
“It’s not every day that we give away one million Points and it feels extra special to award them to someone who has helped to protect the community from COVID-19. We are so happy for Ian and his family and there really is no limits on how they can spend his Points,” said Rohrlach.
“The VA-X & Win competition was one of the biggest vaccination reward incentives in the country and we received hundreds of thousands of entries from vaccinated Australians vying to win some incredible prizes, including Business Class flights, Lounge memberships, and of course, the one million Velocity Points.
“Virgin Australia has been a force for good in the community for 21 years and we are all so proud to have played a role in helping Australia get vaccinated.”
Featured image: Ian and Celeste Marchant with Ground Crew Kate Curren and Della Stevens and 1st Officer Henry Ellis (supplied)