Many of Virgin Australia's top-tier frequent flyers have expressed concern that the new scheme would see them pay to choose a seat when booked onto the least-expensive economy 'Getaway' ticket up to 48 hours before the flight (after 48 hours, advance seat selection is free).
However, a spokesperson for Virgin Australia has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that Platinum and Gold members of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program will be automatically seated in the first rows of the economy cabin.
Velocity Platinums will be assigned a seat in a preferential block from rows 3 through 6.
This of course includes the prized row 3 – the first row behind the business class cabin – with its super-generous legroom, which is set aside for Platinum flyers and members of Virgin's invitation-only The Club.
Gold-grade Velocity members will continue to be allocated a seat from rows 7 through 10 on the 'triangle' routes between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Travellers who wish to nominate a specific seat within that block – such as a window or aisle seat – will still need to pony up the yet-to-be-revealed fee, or wait until 48 hours before the flight to choose their seat for free.
The exact number of rows set aside for Platinum and Gold flyer will be done dynamically depending on the route and the airline's past record of frequent flyer bookings.
For example, a premium-heavy route such as Sydney-Melbourne could have upwards of the first 10 rows set aside for Platinum and Gold members, while predominately leisure routes flights – such as to Ballina, on the NSW north coast – would see fewer top-tier frequent flyers and so reserve only the first two or three rows.
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