Virgin Australia today started sending out announcements advising that they are restructuring theirÂ fare families. The new fare structure is scheduled to come in to effect from 7 September 2016 and affects fares across their Domestic, Trans-Tasman, International Short Haul and International Long Haul operattions.
While on the surface, the changes look to be a rebadging of the current fare families with new names, there are some underlying rule changes that will affect both Virgin Australia customers generally, and also some specific changes that will impact on Velocity members.
The Changes to the Fare Families
For Economy, Virgin are moving back to having three fare families. These will be known as Getaway, Elevate and Freedom. Basically, the current Saver fare is splitting into Getway and Elevate, while the current Flexi fares are being renamed as Freedom.
Business Class fares are being spilt into Business and Business Saver families.
In economy, the currentÂ Seat, Seat+Bag, Saver and Flexi fares are replaced by Go, Go Plus, Getaway and Freedom.Go excludes luggage, while Go Plus adds luggage to the fare.
For Business passengers, the current Business fares are being split into Business Saver and Business.
There are also additional fares for Premium Economy. These fares reflect Virgin fares on flights operated by Air New Zealand – that is they are for codeshare flights. These fares will be available
International Short Haul
For the purposes of these fares, International Short Haul included routes to South East Asia and the Pacific (other than New Zealand). International Short Haul has families that largely match those of the Trans Tasman flights, icluding the Go fare that does not include luggage.
International Long Haul
International Long Haul sees similar changes to the Economy fares, with the introductionÂ of Getway, Elevate and freedom fares. These more or less match the fare families that will be available on the Domestic routes.
Once again, Business is split into Business Saver and Business.
New Seat Selection Fee
While Virgin have not disclosed the fees, a new seat selection fee will apply to the cheapest Economy seat prices. Rather disappointingly, there will be no waiver of this fee for elite members of Velocity.
The fee will apply to seat selection that occurs outside a 48 hour window prior to departure. Within 48 hours of departure, seat selection will be free.
One of the advantages of Platinum (and to a lesser extent Gold) was access to preferred seating. For Platinum members this included access to row 3 on the 737 aircraft, which provided additional leg room. It appears, under the new structure, that these seats will need to be paid for if booking on the lowest airfares.
The fare classes impacted by the new fee are:
- Domestic â€“ Getaway
- Trans Tasman â€“ Go
- International Short haul â€“ Go, Go Plus, Getaway
- International Long haul â€“ Getaway
No Status Bonus on Cheaper Domestic Fares
Under the changes, Elite Velocity members appear to be losing their status bonus on the lower end fares on domestic travel. Elite Velocity members earn a tier bonus on their flights, which is a 50% bonus
for Silver, 75% bonus for Gold, and a 100% bonus for Platinum members.
Under the changes, it appears that members booking the domestic Getaway fares will not be eligible for this bonus.
Virgin have not yet indicated how this
restructure will affect status credit earnings on various classes. Status credits are currently based on the underlying fare class, and it may well be that there are no changes to the status credit or points eanring at this level.
If Virgin do announce any changes, we will be sure to report them here.