Virgin Australia announces fare restructure


Virgin Australia has announced a fare restructure, with the changes coming into effect on 7 September, 2016. The new fares, under the ‘Fares For You’ moniker, introduce a raft of changes across the economy, premium economy and business fare classes.

Aside from the renaming of the fare families, there are also change to the underlying rules of the fare classes. In addition, there will be a fee for selecting seats, with no waiver for Platinum or Gold Velocity members.

Domestic Fares

The fare restructure sees Virgin moving back to having three economy fare families. Previously, the Saver fare was created out of merging the Saver and Saver Lite fares.

In the current changes, the current offerings of Saver and Flexi families are being split and renamed. The current Saver Fares split into two, under the names of Getaway and Elevate. The current fare classes for Flexi will move into the Freedom Fare family.

Business will split into Business and Business Saver, with the lower priced fare losing some of its existing flexibility.

The following table shows the existing and new fare mappings

Cabin Fare Class New Fare Family Current Fare Family
Business D C J Business Business
I Business Saver
Economy L K H B Y Freedom Flexi
Q V N E Elevate Saver
M S T Getaway

All fares will retain the inclusions of luggage and a food and beverage offering. The lower priced Getaway fares will be losing the ability to earn tier points based on your velocity status (more details below)

Trans Tasman

Trans Tasman fares have previously been aligned to some extent with the Air New Zealand offerings. As a result, there were a number of fare families in existence. This current fare restructure changes the names of the families.

While Business splits into two families, with the introduction of Business Saver, under the existing banner, the fare classes forming the family have long had less flexible conditions than the more expensive fare classes.

Fare inclusions vary depending on the Fare Family. Go fares exclude checked baggage but include beverages. Go Plus adds an included luggage allowance.

Cabin Fare Class New Fare Family Current Fare Family
Business C J Business  Business
I D Business Saver
Premium Economy W Premium  Premium Economy
O R Premium Saver  Premium Saver
Economy L K H B Y Freedom  Flexi
T Q V N E Getaway  Saver
T Q V N E Go Plus  Seat and Bag
U M Go  Seat

International Short Haul

International Short Haul is the Virgin name for the non Trans Tasman (New Zealand) routes. This includes flights to destinations such as Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

The new International Short Haul structure largely aligns with the Trans Tasman structure. As the Trans Tasman Premium Economy option is only available when on Air New Zealand operated flights, there is not Premium Economy offering for International Short Haul.

The new Go fare provides a fare that excludes luggage to the short haul international locations.

Cabin Fare Class New Fare Family Current Fare Family
Business C J Business Business
I D Business Saver
Economy L K H B Y Freedom Flexi
T Q V N E Getaway Saver
T Q V N E Go Plus Seat and Bag
M Go
U Go

International Long Haul

For International long haul (North America and Abu Dhabi flights) the fare restructure sees similar families to those being introduced on domestic operations.

International Long Haul flights are being restructures as shown in the following table.

Cabin Fare Class New Fare Family Current Fare Family
Business C J Business Business
I D Business Saver
Premium Economy R W Premium Premium Economy
O Premium Saver Premium Saver
Economy K H B Y Freedom Flexi
L Elevate
V N E Saver
T Q Getaway

Advance Seat Preference – New Fee

[Update: Virgin Australia has advised that the new fee for seat preference will be delayed. This is because they will be exempting Gold and Platinum members of Velocity from the fee, and need to modify their current system to allow this to happen]

Along with the introduction of the new fare families, Virgin will be introducing an Advance Seat Preference fee. This fee will be applied to customers that have chosen one of the lower fare classes and wish to select a seat. The news is twice as bad for Frequent Flyers, as the fee will not be waived for Gold or Platinum members of the Velocity program.

The fee will apply in the following cases:

  • Domestic – Getaway
  • Trans Tasman – Go
  • International Short haul – Go, Go Plus, Getaway
  • International Long haul – Getaway

The fee will not be charged where you elect to defer your seat selection until closer to departure time. Seat selection within the 48 hour window prior to departure will remain free of charge,

Changes for Velocity Members

In addition to not being able to select seats free of charge on lower fares, there are also changes in the fares that will impact on Velocity members.

No Status Bonus on Cheaper Domestic Fares

Elite Velocity members typically earn a tier bonus on their flights. This gives a boost to points earning while flying, and is a 50% bonus for Silver, 75% bonus for Gold, and a 100% bonus for Platinum members.

For members flying domestically, there will no longer be a bonus applied to passengers on the Getaway fares. That is, all Velocity members will earn points at the same rate. That is Red, Silver, Gold and Platinum members will all earn at the rate of 5 Velocity Points per dollar spend on the airfare.

This change affects only Australian Domestic flying. For international sectors, there is no change to the tier bonus on offer.

Earning Classes

Virgin have not yet indicated how this restructure will affect status earnings on various classes. While for the most part, the new fare families include the same classes as the existing classes, this is not always the case.

We would expect that status credit earnings would by and large be the same as now. That is, for Domestic – Getaway and Elevate which use fare classes derived from the current Saver fares will remain as Discount Economy. Similarly, the Freedom fare family will have the fare classes that correspond to Full Economy.

There may be some movement on classes such as the International Long Haul ‘L’ class, which effectively steps down a level. Whether or not this will result in adjustment to the earnings table remains to be seen, but at this point there has been no earnings changes announced.

Fly Ahead

Fly Ahead is a feature of the program allowing Gold and Platinum members the ability to fly earlier than they had booked. This is done on request, and requires a seat in the same booking class to be available.

While this is currently available across all fares, under the restructure, members travelling in a Getaway class may not be entitiled to travel on an earlier flight.


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About Author

Mark is the founder of FlyStayPoints, and caught the travel bug early in life. He discovered the benefits of travel loyalty programs in 2001, and is always learning how they can make travel better. While work takes him between Perth and Melbourne, he is always plotting his next adventure.