- New domestic business class discounts of 5.5-6.5%
- Flexible premium economy now available for 23% less
- Some economy flexible fares hiked by 15%
- Economy Getaway fares no cheaper than previous Saver pricing
- New Elevate fares up to half the price of full-flex Freedom tickets
Virgin Australia’s new range of business class, premium economy and economy fares are now on sale – but how much will you now be paying to book the same flights as before, and how do Virgin Australia’s new Elevate and Business Saver fares stack up against the rest?
Australian Business Traveller recorded fare prices across a number of flights due to depart on October 12 2016 – firstly from searches performed on September 6 under the old rates, and again on September 7 after Virgin’s new fare types and prices had kicked in, to compare the changes.
While pricing can vary from flight to flight, the fare quotes we obtained across all routes and classes of service were for a single travel date (October 12), and compared identical flight numbers between those searches to enable the fairest possible comparison.
Here’s how your hip pocket will be affected by Virgin Australia’s new fare structure on both domestic and international flights.
Virgin Australia’s new fares: the winners
Domestic business class passengers
Fare-paying business class travellers on Virgin Australia’s shorter domestic flights are better off under this new scheme, thanks to Virgin’s new Business Saver fares which offer noticeable discounts over the previous business class ticket prices.
For example, on the Sydney-Melbourne route across all flights we searched, lead-in fares have dropped by around 5.5%: from $750 to $709 at the new Business Saver rates, with the higher-tier Business fares beginning at the previous $750 price.
The same was observed on Brisbane-Melbourne flights where new Business Saver fares were $899, down from $960 under the old scheme.
The previous $960 price is still sold under the higher Business banner, which fortunately means that when Business Saver fares are sold out, you won’t be paying more than before to fly up front.
Long-haul premium economy flyers
In a surprising move, some of Virgin Australia’s former Premium Saver fare prices are now being sold under the higher-tier Premium banner at the same rate, offering added flexibility at no extra cost and also requiring considerably fewer points if upgrading to business class.
On Virgin Australia’s flagship VA1 flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, $3,016.27 could buy a restricted Premium Saver fare under the old system with higher Premium fares from $3,916.27 (one-way) – but from today, Premium fares can be had for $3,016.17.
That’s almost 25% less than the previous top-line premium economy price and is even 10c cheaper than the old Premium Saver tickets – not to mention that upgrades to business class can be secured for 25,000 Velocity points from Premium fares, compared to 45,000 points from Premium Savers.
Virgin Australia’s new fares: the losers
Domestic economy flyers on the lowest fares
As Australian Business Traveller can now reveal, Virgin Australia’s new domestic Getaway fares are no cheaper than the previous Saver tickets – and on many flights, are actually more expensive.
Between Sydney and Melbourne, flights which had Saver fares for $129 are now listed for $155 under the Getaway banner, while those with $109 Saver tickets are still $109 – but again as a Getaway fare, offering just five status credits from next year, with no Fly Ahead or status bonuses.
Similar observations were made on Brisbane-Melbourne flights where those which were $139 under the Saver system were now selling for $159-189 under the Getaway banner, and those which were $149 now upped to $195: also still branded as Getaway fares.
International flexible economy flyers
Booking a fully-flexible economy ticket on longer international flights now costs more than before – so if planning to upgrade to premium economy or business class using Velocity points, expect to part with more cash first.
One-way from Sydney to Los Angeles, we found the previous $1,261.27 Flexi fares replaced by new $1,381.17 Freedom tickets, a fare increase of over 8%.
Flexible Virgin Australia codeshare flights from Sydney to Singapore (run by Singapore Airlines) also got more expensive with a fare hike in excess of 15% – from $677.37 to $798.07 one-way, but as with all Singapore Airlines flights, upgrades using Velocity points aren’t possible here.
How do Elevate fares stack up on pricing?
A stepping stone between the lowest-priced economy tickets and those more flexible (and expensive), Virgin Australia’s new domestic Elevate fares cost around half as much as many flexible Freedom tickets, but do come at a 30-80% premium compared to the bottom-rung Getaway fares.
For example, on Sydney-Melbourne flights where Getaway fares were selling for $109 and Freedom tickets for $399, Elevate fares could be snapped up for $195.
The Sydney-Perth flights we searched put Elevate fares at $359 – nestled between $639 Freedom fares and $249 Getaway tickets – while from Brisbane to Melbourne, Elevate tickets clocked in at $229, between Freedom fares of $459 and Getaway rates of $159-195.
But on longer international flights, the savings between Freedom and Elevate fares instead were between 15% and 20%, with Elevate tickets sold at $1,088.17 from Sydney to LA below Freedom fares of $1,381.17, and for $583.07 on codeshare flights to Singapore against $798.07 for Freedom.
Virgin Australia’s new fares: what’s not changing?
Our searches revealed that on trans-Tasman flights, pricing of the new economy Go, Go Plus, Getaway and Freedom fares was identical to the outgoing Seat, Seat + Bag, Saver and Flexi fares on the same flights.
Also unchanged were the costs of fully-flexible domestic economy tickets, with Virgin’s new Freedom fares selling for the same price as the old Flexi tickets on Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney-Perth and Brisbane-Melbourne flights.
Other fares on Sydney-Perth services also appeared unchanged with Getaway tickets now sold at the old Saver rates and business class fares for the same prices, too.
Internationally, business class fares remained the same on Singapore and Los Angeles flights, but with some Saver fares now sold under the mid-tier Elevate banner at the same prices.
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