Reminder: Virgin ‘future flight credits’ expire next week

The deadline is looming for using credits from many cancelled Virgin Australia flights.

By David Flynn, December 22 2023
Reminder: Virgin ‘future flight credits’ expire next week

Holding onto a Future Flight Credit note from Virgin Australia? Then you’d better move fast, as these flight credits expire on 31 December, 2023.

And that’s not just the deadline for booking a flight – you’ll actually need for that flight to take place no later than 31 December.

Future Flight Credits are one of the two types of credits issued by Virgin Australia during the dark days of 2020, the other of course being Covid Credits.

So what’s the difference?

Covid Credits – also known as Standard Credits – cover Virgin Australia bookings and cancellations between from 21 April 2020 through 31 July 2022, and their expiry date has been extended to June 2025.

Future Flight Credits, on the other hand, are for Virgin Australia flights booked and then cancelled up to 20 April 2020, at which point Virgin Australia collapsed into administration.

That includes the early days of the pandemic shut-down, beginning with the grounding of Virgin’s international flights and, later, almost all domestic flights.

All flights before 20 April 2020 were converted into what Virgin later categorised as Future Flight Credits during the company’s administration process prior to its sale to US private investment firm Bain Capital in June 2020.

“The new Virgin Australia does not hold any of the funds customers paid for these bookings,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson tells Executive Traveller, as those passengers fell into the legion of ‘unsecured creditors’ when the airline collapsed.

“Future Flight Credits were issued to customers who had purchased flights with Virgin Australia before the company entered Administration on 20 April 2020, where those flights were cancelled.”

Bain’s decision to convert the value of their bookings into Future Flight Credits was made as an act of ‘goodwill’, although it came with a fixed expiry of 31 December 2023.

“Approximately 3.5 million seats have been made available on VA-operated flights for Future Flight Credit holders, and approximately 1.5 million of those seats have been used,” the Virgin spokesperson adds.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has acknowledged Virgin Australia’s Future Flight Credits are different to Covid Credits, and so the clock’s ticking towards the ‘use it or lose it’ date.

Of course, the challenge is not only that you have to book and fly by 31 December, but airfares are now much higher than they were in the early days of 2020, so your credit will likely only go part of the way towards your freshly-issued ticket.

As previously reported, while Qantas has scrapped the expiry date on refunds from flights cancelled during the pandemic, bookings under Covid credit must be made by 31 December 2023, although they can be for flights through to December 2024.

Mmflyer Banned
Mmflyer Banned

15 Dec 2023

Total posts 4

Poor form on VA's part for not removing expiry dates on covid credits. Qantas got shamed over it and VA should do the same. 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 413

Obviously you didn't read the article, which very clearly spells out that these Future Flight Credits are NOT 'Covid Credits' and explains the difference. Virgin HAS extended the expiry date on Covid Credits.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

If there were anybody at Bain/Virgin with a functioning brain truly attuned to BDM, they'd extend the FFC for another 5 years but on the condition that they pay no more than, say, 50% of a flight (the balance paid with cash/credit card).  Thus, if I had a current balance of, say, $1000, I'd need to part with $1,000 in cash towards flights on VIRGIN in order to fully utilize the FFCs.  

Full Disclosure:  I have $140 in FFCs (more than my share of a business lunch) that expire on December 31st, the loss of which won't cause me to blink.  But what would give me 'whip lash' and endear me to Virgin is the surprise availability to slowly use them as a continued customer.  But what would I know (other than being the co-architect of a certain casino's loyalty program that Geoff Dixon 'worshipped').  PS: You're welcome Jayne - see you at 'The Tennis' next month !!!!   :-)

LSW
LSW

27 Dec 2023

Total posts 1

Virgin Australia conveniently neglects to mention that international travelers have had less than 18 months to plan travel to Australia to use these credits on a significantly smaller network of flights than were originally booked. And they have offered no exceptions to the December 2023 deadline for those with significant credit balances and limited options to reuse larger balances. 

31 Dec 2023

Total posts 1

Virgin Australia is currently experiencing much consumer backlash over their intention to expire future flight credits.  This is very evident on social media. It's there for all to see. 

As a customer who holds several such credits, I along with many others will have no future loyalty to a company which is making a huge profit yet sees justification to expire credits.  I assume they have it sown up legally but how about some morality here?  When attempting to redeem credit, a box must be ticked on the booking page.  That results in most available flights disappearing off the screen.  The barest minimum number of seats reflecting anything close to the original price of purchase were offered to credit holders, even considering the general increase to costs of fares.   The majority of seats offered were at much higher cost. People who were willing to use their credits to purchase business class seats found much more availability.   Even the ACCC acknowledges this.  Perhaps this explains why 3.5 million seats were made available yet only 1.5 million had been redeemed.  Extensions to the time of credit availability didn't help consumers much. The issue was always availability. 

Customers who live overseas on routes which Virgin no longer fly were issued with credits that can only be used on their current routes. Financial losses are substantial and unlikely to be forgiven.  

 Virgin's "act of goodwill" is viewed as falling vastly short of expectation by many of their former customers. 

31 Dec 2023

Total posts 1

Virgin Australia fails to mention their lack of communication informing customers that their once Covid Credits had now been transfered to Future flight credits with an expiry date of 31st December 2023.  Many people, including myself were informed via email that we had until December 31st to book travel, not actually do the travel before this date.  So naturally when we all went to book we ran into the issue of not being able to, extreamly high pricing and/or no seats being available.

This is the reality of the situation.  I would love to know the total amount of $$$ Virgin will pocket from those of us unable to use OUR own money!!

Lastly, the costumer service centre has been absolutely appalling to deal with, a complete lack of interest or empathy.  

You only have to join and read the hundreds of comments relating to the same issues I have outlined above on the facebook group "Virgin Australia Travel Bank Victims".  Its not just one of us being told the same thing!

Unfortunately Virgin Australia have turned off comments on most of their posts online so no one can comment the truth!


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