Virgin Australia Adjust Fare Rules In Favour Of Elites

Today Virgin Australia’s new fare structure comes into effect and from what I’ve heard, it’s running quite well.

All fares have set in for all Domestic, Trans Tasman, and International flights.

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When Virgin Australia announced these changes, many elites were worried about added fees and the removal of several benefits for Gold and Platinums.

However, late last night Velocity confirmed ‘Fly Ahead’ will stay and seat selection fees won’t apply to Gold and Platinum members.

Per Virgin Australia:

Fly Ahead
We will continue to be the only provider of a Fly Ahead benefit for Platinum and Gold members within the Australian market and from 1 December 2016, Fly Ahead will still be available on all Domestic fare types except for the least flexible fare, Getaway. This fare represents great value and is designed for guests who know exactly when they want to travel.

Advance Seat Preference
In the coming months, Virgin Australia will introduce a small fee for passengers travelling on certain fares who wish to select a seat more than 48 hours prior to their flight departure. Platinum and Gold members will be exempt from this fee.

A small fee will, however, be added for using the membership contact centre for bookings.

These are also the new status credit earn charts:

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Bottom Line

As a Platinum with Virgin, I’m very happy to see they have waived the fees and kept fly ahead. Fly ahead has been a feature I’ve used the most out of all the benefits I can use.

How To – Upgrade On Virgin Australia

Many years ago upgrades were incredibly easy to get, especially if you had status. However, as we’ve seen the past few years upgrades are getting more and difficult to get for ‘free’ but airlines are making them easier to get for a fee.

Most people will be aware of upgrading with points, and that’s pretty easy to understand, but many airlines are now using Bid upgrades. This means people without points or people not wanting to use them can upgrade easily.

This post will be an in-depth tutorial of how to upgrade on all Virgin Australia flights.

Reward seats = Upgrades (most of the time)

Domestic

It’s no secret that getting an upgrade on a domestic flight is so much easier than an international flight. Luckily Virgin are very generous with upgrading options.

UpgradeMe Points

Virgin Australia allows anybody to upgrade on their domestic flights no matter which fare is purchased or status you hold.

Virgin have a handy table which show’s you the points required for each sector. You can use the Mileage Calculator to find the distance of your flight.

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Virgin sorts upgrades by first in best dressed for domestic services. If you’d like to know what your chances of an upgrade are, I’d heavily advise getting a subscription to  Expertflyer.com. This program allows you to view the flight loads in all classes and show seating assignment which is extremely helpful.

As the image shows below these are flight’s going from Brisbane to Sydney next week. The numbers and letters may look confusing . However, they are very easy to understand.

Expertflyer Example

Expertflyer Example

The two letter codes at the start  J7 is an advanced way of saying J = Business Class 7 = 7 Business Class seats available. Keep in mind there are only 8 seats in Virgin’s business class cabin on their 737, so you have a very high chance of getting an upgrade. I’ll be writing a full post on how to read fare codes and buckets.

Another way to find if a seat is available if to search for “Reward seats.”

Points upgrades can be requested by:

  • Platinum members
  • Gold members
  • Silver members
  • Red members

A few things to not with points upgrades are:

  • Upgrades are instant if there’s seat free
  • Your earn rate will stay at the same level depending on the fare you bought

The upgrade can be requested as soon as you make the booking or in the lounge (if you have a membership – only applies to red and silver members)

UpgradeME Premium Bid

Many airlines are now introducing the upgrade bidding system to their frequent flyer program. Singapore Airlines is the latest to launch it.

Making an upgrade is incredibly straightforward and painless.

All you do is go to Manage booking and you’ll see the Upgrade Options tab.

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You’ll be redirected to a page that looks like this:

On this page, you’ll be able to offer how much you’re prepared to pay for the upgrade. My strategy is first to look at the aircraft loads and determine how full it is. If it’s J8 or J3 at the lowest, I’ll bid a minimum amount. If it’s showing J3 or J1 I’ll bid in the mid range or decide if I really need the upgrade or not.

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After you submit your request you’ll receive an email explaining your upgrade has been received and they will email you a few days before departure letting you know if the upgrades confirmed or denied.

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If you get that glorious email it will look just like this:

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Key points:

  • Anyone can bid for upgrades
  • You won’t earn extra points and status credits

Short Haul International 

Now and then it’s nice to have a break and a lot of Australian’s choose to travel to islands in the Pacific. Virgin Australia has a fantastic route map and destinations like Fiji, Port Vila, Auckland and much more.

You can use both points and bid upgrades, and Platinum members are now allowed to use their four complimentary upgrades for short-haul international flights.

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The same rules apply for international flights as they did for domestic flights. The only change is you have to be booked on a Flexible ticket, and you cannot use the lounge for upgrades as Virgin Australia use Air New Zealand lounges for their short-haul international flights.

Key points:

  • Upgrades will cost more in $$ and points
  • There isn’t as much selection with flights so be prepared to maybe not get the upgrade if you did a small price
  •  Must be booked on a Flexi ticket

Long Haul International

Long haul international is without a doubt the hardest type of flight to get upgrades; however, there are ways of making them easier to get. The process of getting an upgrade on a long haul flight are entirely different to domestic and short-haul international.

Virgin Australia only operates two long haul destinations. Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi both on 777 aircraft.

Points upgrade table:

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Points and Bid upgrades are exclusive to Gold and Platinum members for long haul flights.

Gold and Platinum members can upgrade to Business class from a flexible economy, saver premium or premium economy ticket with points. The table above shows the rates.

Gold and Platinum members can bid for an upgrade from a Flexible economy or premium economy ticket.

Both options are subject to Reward Seat availability, and luckily Virgin is very consistent releasing these seats (last-minute) To find reward seats this post will be very helpful: Virgin Australia Long Haul Reward Seat Trends.

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This would be much more comfortable right?

This would be much more comfortable right?

Pay to upgrade at the airport

This concept is quite new and not well-known. When booked on a flexible economy seat you can ask the check in staff to pay an upgrade. These upgrades are only available for one sector flights like SYD-LAX, they cannot be done for something like BNE-SYD-LAX.

The price is $1499 each way.

An excellent way to see if seats are available is to use expertflyer.com

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Summary

Hopefully, these tips and tricks enable you to enjoy a business class upgrade. Warning: once you fly business, you won’t want to fly Economy ever again 😉

An Insight Into What Virgin Australia’s New Fare’s Will Look Like

A few days ago I was given these PDF’s containing some information on Virgin Australia’s new fares. If you haven’t already I’d heavily advise reading my post about Virgin Australia changing it’s fare to get a good idea what is going to happen in the near future.

There are 3 Pdf’s available to look at:

Domestic, Trans Tasman and International

Domestic - Retail

Domestic

Trans Tasman

Trans Tasman

International Long Haul

International Long Haul

Summary

It’s good to finally be able to see what are the good and bad parts of the new fares. A lot of passengers are not happy with the changes and are jumping to different airlines but for the ones staying these documents are a good reference for what we’ll be seeing in the not too distant future.

 

Virgin Australia To Overhaul Fares

Some very interesting information has surfaced today regarding fares on Virgin Australia. The airline is planning to completely overhaul their airfares. Usually you would either just choose a Saver, Flexible or Full fare business ticket but as air travel is getting more and more popular airlines are constantly needing to innovate.

When are the fares set to change? Well, at this time there isn’t a firm date however it should be quite soon. 9 different fares will be available for both Domestic and International flights providing a huge range and variety for every type of passenger.

Virgin Australia 777

Virgin Australia 777

Information provided from news.com.au

Fare rundown

Economy fare types will include:
Getaway — Lowest domestic fare guests who know exactly when they want to fly.
Elevate (Domestic and Long-Haul only) — Both value and flexibility, with options to explore if guests’ plans change.
Freedom — Full flexibility for guests who might have a last-minute change of plan.
Two additional Economy fare types will be available for trans-Tasman and Short Haul International and flights:
Go — For guests with locked in plans who don’t need to check in baggage.
Go Plus — For guests who want great value, checked baggage, and would rather save on extras
they may not need.
Business and Premium Economy fare types will include:
Premium Saver — For guests who want an outstanding experience for superb value.
Premium — For guests who want flexibility.
Business Saver — For guests who want exceptional style and refined comfort for superb value.
Business — For guests who prefer refined comfort and full flexibility.

Summary

It’s always good to see airlines innovating and leading the way. I would suspect a lot of passengers will be extremely happy with the new fares as most would like more variety and they will see what they are paying for. I would say there is a chance many lower fares would earn a lot less or even no points or status credits but we shall wait and see.

Virgin Australia Los Angeles Business Class Availability Patterns

Virgin Australia has lately been speeding through their 777 cabin reconfiguration’s and have now 4 aircraft finished and flying, pretty impressive speed.

The 777’s fly exclusively to LAX until September 1 when Abu Dhabi flights resume. During the reconfiguration Virgin’s new business class and premium economy product were fitted.

1 daily flight is operated from both Brisbane and Sydney.

As you can see by the photo’s it looks absolutely stunning!

Virgin Australia New Business Class

Virgin Australia New Business Class (Image: Virgin Australia)

 

Virgin Australia New Premium Economy  (Image: Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia New Premium Economy (Image: Virgin Australia)

From what I’ve seen and heard passengers are loving the experience, all A330’s in the fleet are also fitted with almost identical seats just not as many features as the 777’s. I’ve flown this product numerous times within Australia but very keen to try it long-haul.

Virgin Australia Business Class

Virgin Australia Business Class

Booking An Award Seat

Virgin Australia used to be known for releasing crazy amount of business class availability to the U.S however that has most certainly changed in the past few years. Availability to the U.S is getting increasingly difficult to get for non stop flights.

Currently business class availability is opening anywhere from 24 hours before departure up to 5 or 6 days out. This isn’t fantastic for planning but available seats are quite certain in those time frames.

Premium economy space is very staggered and much more easier to find than business class if you’re planning in advance. Often you’ll find more business class seats over premium if you’re booking last-minute.

To search for award seats type in the departing airport, arrival airport, class, and date then click ‘Use Points + Pay’. This link will direct you to the page: Virgin Australia Bookings.

Virgin Australia New Business Class

Virgin Australia New Business Class

TipIf you can’t seem to find seats from Sydney look for the Brisbane flight as that is usually more open.

First of all you want to find a ‘Business Reward’ seat, this has the velocity tick and price tag on top of it. You can adjust how many points you want to use or how much you pay.

Summary

It’s good to see Virgin releasing business class seats consistently. It maybe difficult to plan around but if you’re someone who flies last-minute, this is fantastic.

Is This The Craziest Velocity Points Promo Yet?

Virgin Australia’s frequent flyer program ‘Velocity’ is known for interesting promos offering large amounts of points. Home loans, Credit Card sign up’s the list goes on but I think this tops them all.

The popular Australian car company Holden has partnered with Virgin offering large amounts of points when purchasing a car… Yes purchasing a car!

The full details can be found here: Holden and Velocity.

The points bonuses are 40,000, 75,000 and 100,000 some even come with added extras. The cars fall under 4 categories – Small cars, Sport cars, SUV’s and Utes.

Small Car Category

Small Car Category

 

Sport Car Category

Sport Car Category

 

SUV Car Category

SUV Car Category

 

Family Car Category

Family Car Category

 

Ute Car Category

Ute Car Category

Summary

This is a pretty cool promo and would love to see how many people take advantage of the offer, But could you put it on an American Express card? 😉