Whether you're flying with kids for the first time or are planning your next Virgin Australia family holiday, there's a lot you can do to make the journey smoother.
Parents have shared their hot tips and advice with Executive Traveller – here's what they had to say.
- Flying Virgin Australia with kids: booking basics
- One infant per adult, or they'll need their own seat
- How much does it cost to fly with a child?
- Which Virgin Australia flights are best with kids?
- Flying Virgin Australia with kids: check-in
- Virgin Australia checked baggage allowance with kids
- Virgin Australia cabin baggage allowance with kids
- Flying Virgin Australia with kids: lounge access
- Do children count towards your Virgin Australia lounge guest limits?
- Can children visit the lounge when using a lounge pass?
- Virgin Australia lounge amenities for children
- Flying Virgin Australia with kids: getting seated
- Can I book a bassinet seat on a Virgin Australia flight?
- Can children sit in Virgin Australia Economy X or the emergency exit rows?
- Can you use child comfort aids on Virgin Australia?
- Flying Virgin Australia with kids: ready for take-off
- Food and drink on Virgin Australia flights
- Activities on Virgin Australia flights
- Flying Virgin Australia with kids: frequent flyer points
- Velocity Points, status credits for infants
- Velocity Points, status credits for children
- Virgin Australia family pooling
- Virgin Australia family points transfers
- Flying Virgin Australia with kids: parental pause
- Who qualifies for a Virgin Australia parental pause?
- How do you maintain Velocity status after parental pause?
- What happens to your Velocity status during a parental pause?
Flying Virgin Australia with kids: booking basics
When travelling with your young family, there are a few things to know before jetting off.
One infant per adult, or they'll need their own seat
Children under two years are deemed ‘infants‘ by Virgin Australia, and can travel on the lap of an accompanying adult – not requiring their own seat.
Each adult traveller is limited to one lap infant: which could be one parent travelling with one infant, or two parents travelling with two infants, for instance.
If travelling with more infants than adults, any additional infants – being those exceeding the number of accompanying adults – will require their own seat. You’ll also need an approved child restraint system, and can call Virgin Australia to arrange this.
How much does it cost to fly with a child?
Virgin Australia allows infants to fly in the laps of adult passengers at no extra charge on domestic flights.
For short international flights such as to New Zealand, Bali or Fiji, infants cradled in a parent’s lap are charged 10% of the full adult fare.
However, infants requiring their own seat are charged the full adult fare on domestic and trans-Tasman flights, with 75% of the fare paid on other short-haul international routes.
The same is true of children aged two and above, even though passengers aged 2-11 must be booked as 'children'.
All travellers aged 12 and above are considered 'adults' when booking a Virgin Australia flight.
Which Virgin Australia flights are best with kids?
While infants and children are accepted on all Virgin Australia domestic flights, some departures may be more family-friendly than others.
Flights during the middle of a day, for example, may not be as full as those pushing back during the morning and evening peak period.
This could make the overall travel experience less stressful, especially for parents flying with kids for the first time – not only potentially having more room to move onboard, but also with quieter lines at check-in and security.
"Aiming for flight time around when your little one sleeps (for us it was around midday) also makes for an easier trip," Tim Owen of Eastside FM shares with Executive Traveller.
That said, be aware that Virgin Australia doesn't offer bassinet facilities on any flight, whether that's a quick regional hop or a long cross-country trek.
You’ll need to provide your own Child Restraint System (CRS) which complies with Australian design standard AS/NZS 1754: 2013 and onwards. Some car seats are suitable for this purpose as they can be restrained using aircraft seat belts: more information can be found on Virgin Australia’s website.
Flying Virgin Australia with kids: check-in
Baggage allowances on Virgin Australia are a little different when travelling with the family: here's what you need to know.
Virgin Australia checked baggage allowance with kids
Virgin Australia has a four-tiered fare structure, and only three of those tiers include checked baggage – so don't get caught out.
Economy Lite fares allow carry-on only, although bags can be added for a fee; Economy Choice and Economy Flex fares include a single 23kg bag, as do any seats booked using Velocity Frequent Flyer points. Business fares include two 23kg bags as standard.
Here's what can be packed under the name of younger flyers:
- Lap infants: Three ‘special infant items’ such as a pram/stroller, portable cot, car seat or baby capsule. (As indicated above, if the accompanying adult has booked an Economy Choice, Economy Flex or Business fare, these special infant items can also include a 23kg bag, but for an Economy Lite fare no checked bag is included.)
- Infants occupying their own seat: The same as lap infants above, but with an additional 23kg bag in addition to the three special infant items if a Business fare has been booked.
- Children aged 2-11: Standard adult baggage allowance depending on the fare purchased, booked under the child’s name, plus two 'special equipment items' such as pram/stroller, portable cot, car seat or baby capsule.
- Children aged 12+: Standard adult baggage allowance depending on the fare purchased.
"Virgin certainly made an impression on us with their luggage allowance when travelling with children," Tim Owen says.
"We were surprised how many more items of luggage we required when travelling – checking in a full-sized pram for our trips, a cot, and bags filled to the brim for every contingency... not having to worry (too much) about limitations for luggage at check-in really helped."
Virgin Australia cabin baggage allowance with kids
Got your checked baggage sorted? Here's what you can bring aboard the aircraft when travelling with a child, over and above your own standard carry-on luggage limits.
- All infant passengers: If the accompanying adult is travelling on a Lite fare, the normal adult carry-on allowance of two pieces together weighing up to 7kgs applies. But the infant isn’t forgotten and as such, an additional 7kg of carry-on baggage for essential baby products, such as baby milk, sterilised water, juice, baby food in liquid, gel or paste form and disposable wipes, can be taken onboard.
- Children aged 2+: Kids receive the same carry-on baggage allowance as adults, which is up to two items weighing up to 7kg together by default – or higher in business class if the child holds Velocity Gold or Platinum status, in which case they can take two pieces each weighing up to 7kgs.
Even though kids can bring their own cabin bag, and adults can carry-on an additional bag for infants, many parents prefer to pack everything they won't need for the flight into their hold luggage.
"Check-in as much as possible," parent Jody Nichols suggests. "Don’t plan to lug everything through the airport in addition to handling the child!"
In addition to the carry-on allowances, all travellers can take a further ‘personal item’ which can be a laptop, blanket or jacket, umbrella, small camera, a book or mobility crutches. A range of medical items are considered exempt, and travellers should consult Virgin as to their specific needs.
Flying Virgin Australia with kids: lounge access
Virgin Australia provides airport lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide and on the Gold Coast for eligible flyers – including those travelling with kids.
Do children count towards your Virgin Australia lounge guest limits?
Virgin's lounge guest rules reflect Velocity Frequent Flyer status rather than a guest’s age.
Here's how many child guests Virgin Australia Lounge members, Velocity Gold members and Velocity Platinum frequent flyers can bring into the lounges:
- Business Class: No additional guests allowed, regardless of whether they’re adults or children
- Velocity Platinum: 3 adults and 3 children (aged 0-11 inclusive)
- Velocity Gold: 1 adult and 3 children (aged 0-11 inclusive)
- Velocity Silver: Silver guests receive two single-entry lounge invitations per membership year and if you wish to bring a guest or child in with you, that will cost both your entries.
- Velocity Red: No lounge access permitted
- Virgin Lounge Member: 1 adult and 3 children (aged 0-11 inclusive)
- Virgin Lifetime Lounge Member: 1 adult and 3 children (aged 0-11 inclusive)
Holders of an American Express Centurion or Platinum credit card can access Virgin Australia lounges on the day of travel and can bring in another adult or child with them as a guest. Both need to be travelling on a domestic service later the same day.
Note that an AMEX Platinum Charge Card or Centurion Card holder cannot bring an adult guest plus one child (age 4+) into the lounge - it's one or the other.
Should there be two eligible AMEX cardholders travelling together, however, one could present their AMEX card for themselves plus the child as their guest, while the other adult could present their own AMEX card for access, keeping everybody together.
Can children visit the lounge when using a lounge pass?
Single-visit passes to Virgin Australia's lounge are provided to Velocity Silver frequent flyers, and with eligible Velocity-partnered credit cards.
These passes normally provide access for one person only – no additional 'guests', regardless of age.
Although lounge staff may sometimes use discretion when children are travelling, such an exemption shouldn't be expected: the only way to guarantee access for adult plus child is by having two lounge passes ready to roll.
In any case, children must always be accompanied by an adult (aged 18+) in the lounge, as these are venues where alcohol is served.
Virgin Australia lounge amenities for children
Unlike the rival Qantas Clubs – many of which have dedicated 'Joey Club' spaces – Virgin Australia's domestic lounges don't provide dedicated areas for children.
Speaking of airport lounges in general, Nichols suggests that when travelling with young kids, flyers should "consider skipping them, especially in Australia."
"Lounges can be quite crowded at times, and you don’t want bub running or crawling around in the midst of a bunch of impatient and focused business travellers!”
Flying Virgin Australia with kids: getting seated
When it's time to fly, head to the boarding gate before the time shown on your boarding pass, and certainly before any boarding calls are made in the lounge.
This will allow you to board first and get settled, as Virgin Australia pre-boards those travelling with children.
If you're flying with an infant in their own seat, you'll need to supply and use an approved child restraint – see the Virgin Australia website for the latest details.
Those with lap infants will simply be supplied with an infant seatbelt.
Can I book a bassinet seat on a Virgin Australia flight?
As Virgin Australia no longer operates Airbus A330s or Boeing 777s, bassinet facilities are no longer available.
This includes long flights such as east-west treks, which are all now served by smaller Boeing 737s, on which bassinets aren't available.
Can children sit in Virgin Australia Economy X or the emergency exit rows?
Economy X is Virgin Australia's extra legroom product, and spans rows 3-5 and 13-14 on its Boeing 737 jets.
As rows 13 and 14 are at the emergency exit, only travellers aged 15 and over can be seated here. This also means adults can't have a lap infant in these rows.
Rows 3, 4 and 5 aren't at the exit, meaning children and infants can be seated here.
"The decision to take the first row of economy or the exit rows changes with when travelling with a child," continues Owen.
When travelling with kids, "it's handy to have a bag at your feet with essentials," which narrows Economy X down to rows 4 and 5, balancing extra legroom with floor-level storage, including during take-off and landing.
Can you use child comfort aids on Virgin Australia?
When your child is too big for a car seat, but doesn't feel comfortable in the standard airplane seat, a solution could be travelling with a kids' comfort device.
Items like Plane Pal, Fly Tot and JetKids BedBox could make the trip more bearable for younger flyers, and are permitted by Virgin Australia.
To use these nifty aids, you must be sitting at a window seat only, and not in an emergency exit row:
Check the Virgin Australia website for a full list of requirements and restrictions, including that such devices not be attached to the aircraft, or intrude on other passengers.
Flying Virgin Australia with kids: ready for take-off
All buckled in?
"Don't expect to enjoy the travel experience, like reading a book or watching something of your choice," Owen laughs. When travelling with a child, set your expectations appropriately."
Food and drink on Virgin Australia flights
Be mindful that Virgin doesn't include free food and drinks in economy class – either choose something from the 'buy on board' menu or pack your own snacks and bring them on board. We suggest the later, as the menu doesn't include any baby-specific options.
Food for purchase consists mostly of a variety of sweet and savoury snacks but there’s also beef noodles and miso soup too if you’re after something closer to a meal.
The airline also has special and changing offers from time to time, so each flight can be slightly different in terms of the onboard menu.
Water, tea, and coffee remain complimentary for all Virgin Australia passengers in economy, while a broader range of meals and beverages including juice and soft drinks (plus beer, wine and spirits for the adults) are served in business class – but there's no option to pre-order anything different, such as a child or baby meal.
Activities on Virgin Australia flights
On the entertainment front, Virgin Australia's video entertainment is only possible via your own device through the carrier’s Entertainment app, which needs to be downloaded in advance. (Click here to check if your device is ready to connect to Virgin’s inflight entertainment system.)
Some devices may be able to connect with Virgin's inflight streaming system, but many major devices aren't supported, including Apple MacBooks, although Apple and Android smartphones and tablets are compatible.
And as with any airline, the entertainment system can occasionally be out of service – so it pays to be prepared. "Bring the iPad, and other devices, with pre-downloaded content like Bluey," suggests Owen.
Agi Magyar, Founder and Photographer at The Headshot Co., reminds that headphones are essential too. "No one wants to hear Elmo talking for longer than 5 minutes, but kids love it!"
Flying Virgin Australia with kids: frequent flyer points
Depending on how your family's tickets have been booked, you may be able to earn Velocity Points and status credits when your children fly.
Velocity Points, status credits for infants
Infants travelling on an adult's lap as opposed to their own seat can't earn Velocity Points or status credits, as they're not flying on their own paid fare.
However, if an infant is travelling in their own seat – which requires payment of the full adult fare – then points and status credits can be earned, in line with the fare category purchased.
Velocity Points, status credits for children
While kids aged 2-11 are booked as 'children' under Virgin's ticketing system, the full adult fare applies, and so the child can earn a full serve of Velocity Points and status credits, at adult rates.
As with infants occupying their own seat, the child must be a member of Velocity, which is free to join.
Virgin Australia family pooling
A favourite feature of Velocity for families is 'family pooling', which allows all points and status credits earned by up to two adults and four children (maximum six people per family pool) to be combined into a single traveller's account.
To make this work, everyone in the family pool needs to be living at the same address, and when a child reaches the age of 18 they’re automatically removed from the family pool.
Family pool arrangements work best by making the ultimate beneficiary the member of the family who flies the most often.
That's because with the help of status credits flowing in from their household, this person could quickly climb to Velocity Gold or Platinum status – providing perks like lounge access not only when flying for work, but on family holidays too.
Points and status credits flow across whether or not the family members travel together too, but when they do, it's like a bonus bonanza. But remember, everybody in the pool needs to have their own Velocity account and have it registered on their booking.
Consider two adults and two (seat-occupying) children flying together, with everybody pooling to one parent's account.
As that one parent gets everybody's status credits, it's like earning quadruple status credits on every flight taken with the family – a sure way to help fast-track your way to Gold or Platinum status, or help keep your current tier locked in for another year.
Virgin Australia family points transfers
Separate to family pooling, Virgin Australia's Velocity members can also share points with family members, by manually transferring those points from one account to another.
This is handy where your family has earned points before a family pool was set up, for instance, or to share points with family members living at a different address.
Each Velocity member can make up to four points transfers each membership year.
Every points transfer can be a maximum of 125,000 Velocity Points, allowing each member to transfer up to 500,000 Velocity Points to family members each year.
These limits only apply to manual points transfers, and not to family pooling.
Flying Virgin Australia with kids: parental pause
Have Velocity Silver, Gold or Platinum status, but won't be able to retain that status because of a new addition to the family? You may be eligible for Virgin Australia's 'parental pause'.
Who qualifies for a Virgin Australia parental pause?
Any Silver, Gold or Platinum member of Velocity who is the parent of a child under two years of age – or who adopts a child under two years of age – can request a 'parental pause'.
When granted, this adjusts your current Velocity membership year, which will end six months from the time the pause is approved.
During that first six months, your Velocity status will remain unchanged, and you won't need to earn the usual number of status credits to keep it.
How do you maintain Velocity status after parental pause?
After that initial six-month parental pause, you'll begin a new Velocity membership year, giving you 12 further months at your current status.
During this final 12 months, you'll need to retain your status as usual to keep it beyond this year.
In short, members are assured of 18 months of elite status from the time they begin a parental pause: six months where status credits don't matter, and a further 12 months, where status credits are needed to keep that membership for longer.
What happens to your Velocity status during a parental pause?
During the first six months of your parental pause, your Velocity status remains as-is.
If you travel during the pause, you'll have access to your usual status perks like lounge access – but even if you earn enough status credits to climb to the next status, you won't move up until the first six months of your pause have passed.
Should you have qualified for a higher tier, your upgrade will come through after that six-month mark, when your new (12-month) membership year kicks in.
Original reporting by Chris Chamberlin