Virgin Australia dials back ‘Fly Ahead’ for Velocity Gold

From November, same-day flight changes for Velocity Gold will be restricted to Economy Flex and business class only.

By Chris C., August 19 2021
Virgin Australia dials back ‘Fly Ahead’ for Velocity Gold

Virgin Australia’s Velocity Gold frequent flyers will lose access to the airline’s favoured ‘Fly Ahead’ feature come November when travelling on mid-range economy 'Choice' airfares.

From November 19 2021, free same-day flight changes on Choice tickets will become a perk exclusive to Velocity Platinum cardholders.

The same is true of existing 'Elevate' fares, which have since been rebranded to Choice.

Velocity Gold members will still be able to request a Fly Ahead on fully flexible economy (Flex), as well as business class fares, under the airline's freshly-launched fare structure.

Virgin Australia’s new ‘carry-on only’ fare, Lite, is not eligible for Fly Ahead, whether Gold or Platinum.

The airline’s previous lead-in fares, Getaway, were similarly barred from Fly Ahead.

Velocity Gold members will only be able to Fly Ahead on Choice airfares until November 19 2021, being three months from the publication of this update.

The value of 'Fly Ahead' for Velocity Gold

With Fly Ahead for Velocity Gold becoming a perk restricted to fully flexible tickets, some Gold-grade members will question whether the benefit brings any value.

Although it's true that Flex and Business fares won't have a fixed change fee, amending these flights would normally attract a fare difference, if one applies.

It's that fare difference that's waived when requesting a Fly Ahead.

This could amount to a minimal saving, or a significant sum of coin, depending on the price originally paid for a journey, and what the flight is selling for on the day of travel.

For those able to Fly Ahead on a Choice fare, the usual $80 fixed change fee is waived as well.

This applies to Velocity Platinum members going forward, and to Velocity Gold members until November 19 2021.

The tightening of Fly Ahead comes as part of a broader reboot of the airline’s fare packages, with its new lead-in Lite fares even stinging Velocity Gold members with domestic seat selection fees, zero checked baggage irrespective of status, and reduced status credit earn rates.

Read: Virgin Australia launches cut-price ‘seat only’ Economy Lite fare

Note: A previous version of this article listed that Virgin Australia was removing Fly Ahead for Velocity Gold members on all fares. This was based on erroneous information published by Virgin Australia, which the airline has since corrected and clarified.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 230

Oh, the sting is in the tail and the catch is in the fine print. Virgin slipped this one out while it was banging the drum about Economy Lite fares.  A real shame, fly-ahead is super convenient for business travellers. I can see why Virgin is doing this to help make Platinum a better proposition and put more distance between it and Gold, but you can bet the Golds won't be happy!

Ouch! This was a great benefit of Velocity Gold and actually something you would only expect Platinums to have. Not surprised to see it become a Platinum-only perk but this will certainly make many Golds rethink their alliance to Virgin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 359

Short sighted by the airline it seems as you could not imagine this bonus would have significant costs for the business. but it certainly offers a major benefit for VA FF.

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 34

This is a deal breaker for me. This was the only real differentiator between QF gold and VA gold.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

06 Apr 2012

Total posts 120

'Fly ahead' was one of the main reasons why regular Gold-level business travelers often chose to travel Virgin over Qantas.  Will be interesting to see how that impacts patronage in the future for this market.  Instead of withdraw it altogether a better approach could have been to provide Gold frequent flyers with a certain number of fly-ahead credits to use every membership year, much in the same way that they give Platinum frequent flyers 4 Business Class upgrade credits every year as part of their entitlements.

Phew, glad to see Virgin got this wrong and has admitted that, thanks Chris for updating the article. Still seems a bit messy that it's only on some fares, but I suppose Virgin has to find a way to work it in with the actual fare conditions. I would still think you should get free Fly Ahead or not get Free Fly Ahead, on any fare except maybe Economy Lite as this is the most no-frills of them all.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 605

good summary by LiT, thanks, might have otherwise missed it. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 605

Good to AT LAST read of Virgin putting into action strategies that appeal to the fare paying customer.  As to why it took this long . . . no, I won't ask ('gift horses' and all that).  As a frequent same-day return traveler, I typically don't fly with checked luggage.  

19 Aug 2021

Total posts 1

Why would they do such a thing to Loyal Frequent flyers. Ah well looks like Qantas will once again be dominant in the business space. To bad it was a great airline. 

30 Jun 2020

Total posts 6

I can't help but agree.  It's not just the business space either.....I'm some business and reasonably frequent pointy end leisure.  I supported them at every opportunity during admin and takeover until the uncertainty took hold and I had to jump ship.  VA remain my preferred experience door to door tbh.  Despite my newly minted Q gold, I was finally on the verge of switching back to VA since it appeared things had 'settled'.  If they're starting to poke around with the perks that differentiate them, I'm thinking it's safer to stick with Q.

03 Apr 2020

Total posts 2

They've not thought this through - this currently costs VA very little, but is a hidden driver of loyalty. This will not drive Gold members to become Platinum, it will not drive Gold's to buy Flex tickets. It will irritate loyal Gold members. It will drive loyal Gold members to split more of their travel with competition,  It will drive Gold's to sit in the lounge and eat and drink increasing VA's costs. 

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