How Virgin Australia's new business class, economy fares compare

By Chris C., September 7 2016
How Virgin Australia's new business class, economy fares compare

  • 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?

Read: Virgin Australia overhauls domestic, international fares

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.

Have more flexibility in premium economy, or upgrade to business class for less...
Have more flexibility in premium economy, or upgrade to business class for less...

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.

Read: Virgin Australia business class upgrade guide

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.

Read: Status credits slashed on Virgin Australia Getaway fares

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.

Want to upgrade to The Business? The new flexible economy tickets will cost you...
Want to upgrade to The Business? The new flexible economy tickets will cost you...

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.

Read: Singapore Airlines business class upgrade guide

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.

Also read: Virgin Australia to continue free Fly Ahead for frequent flyers

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

04 May 2015

Total posts 261

"Virgin Australia’s new domestic Getaway fares are no cheaper than the previous Saver tickets – and on many flights, are actually more expensive."

So we're now being charged the same amount or more to earn LESS status credits from next year??

I was hoping the new low fares would actually be cheaper and that the next fare up would be an affordable upsell to counter losing all the perks on the bottom fare: pay a little bit more and you get what you used to get, sort of thing.

To be honest, I can't see myself (or my employer) paying $50 or $100 more for an economy seat just to get what I already get now.

When I book business class though, I like the idea of the new discount! Makes it more affordable especially when travelling with a partner.

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 52

I completely agree - given the cost saving on points and SC flow on costs, its disapointing none of this has been passed on. I wonder if a pricing review will follow shortly? Interestingly in the new fare rules for the Getaway RBD they are now non cancelable - no more travel bank on these! 

14 Jul 2016

Total posts 7

Taking an example of Brisbane to Sydney, the price per status credit is now higher on Virgin Australia fares than Qantas.

Qantas Red E-Deal: $116 for 10 SCs = $11.60 per credit
Virgin Elevate: $179 for 15 SCs = $11.93 per credit
Virgin Getaway: $99 for 5 SCs = $19.80 per credit 

If only flying on Getaway fares, the total spend required to achieve Gold is actually now higher on Virgin than Qantas (on this route):

Qantas: 700 x $11.60 = $8,120 (70 flights)
Virgin: 500 x $19.80 = $9,900 (100 flights)

Of course prices vary by route and so this may not hold true for all trips.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 31

Seems that VA is dancing on a clifftop with its loyal customers at the moment..... 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 240

Forgive the winge, but I don't see why they can't just put the case that cost of doing business has gone up, they need to return profit, so fares unfortunatley will have to go up.

How did someone go from that reality to 'why don't we make things 9x more complex and give things cutesy names like Freedom (that were clearly poached from our American cousin,) so people don't notice'.

With 'Saver' and 'Flexi', I instantly got an idea what I was getting. It reminds me of the Paul Rudd quote from that movie where he's trying to buy a large coffee:

"Can I get a large coffee - oh you mean Venti - No, Venti is 20. Large is large. Infact, Tall is large, Grande is Spanish for large. Venti is Italian. It's the only one that doesn't mean large. Congratulations, you're stupid in 3 languages"

20 Apr 2014

Total posts 93

Seems like a good idea to combat JQ at the bargain end where tiger doesn't have the coverage however the gateway fares will need to be far more competitive to lock in the leisure travelers 

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 128

they are trying to stop business types flying on cheap fares. The reality is, over 90% of people on expensive or flexible ticket never change anything & they would be far better off, on the rare occasions when they want to change flights, to simply buy another ticket. Most of these passengers aren't paying for their own tickets, but finally someone is watching the pennies.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Apr 2015

Total posts 2

Nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. Seems Very user-pay (ie cheap and nasty). VA is not full service and never will. Prices are up, points redemption are up, yet the service remains the same... Either way it's still Virgin Blue. 

Thankfully I reverted back to QF 18 mths ago and so glad I did. I like a glass of wine, (outside of VAs generous 2 hr "gesture of good faith" period), a "hot" meal on a dinner flights and enjoy the exceptional service QF offers, regardless of the time, route or price point I've been "pigeon holed" into. 

Is the loyalty really there?? 

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on How Virgin Australia's new business class, economy fares compare