Virgin Australia 'Fly Ahead': moving to an earlier flight, free

By Chris Chamberlin, November 23 2016

While relaxing in airport lounges is certainly pleasant, arriving home or at your destination earlier than expected can prove far sweeter – and that’s exactly what Virgin Australia offers to its high-flying Velocity Gold and Platinum members travelling on Australian domestic flights.

It works like this: if you arrive at the airport for the flight you’d booked with plenty of time to spare and there’s another Virgin Australia flight headed to the same destination both open for check-in and which still has seats available, you can ‘Fly Ahead’ on that earlier service at no cost.

This is possible on most fares, but not all of them, as Australian Business Traveller reveals in this handy guide.

Virgin Australia Fly Ahead: who’s eligible?

Again, this perk is offered exclusively to Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum frequent flyers, plus up to three companions travelling with them on the same booking.

It’s not available to equivalent Gold and Platinum cardholders of VA’s partner airlines – such as Etihad Guest Gold and Singapore Airlines PPS Club – or to paid-up Virgin Australia lounge members, unless travelling together with an eligible Velocity Gold or Platinum member.

Got your Velocity Gold or Platinum status sorted? Then check your ticket type – from December 1 2016, Fly Ahead is possible on Business, Business Saver, Business Reward, Freedom, Elevate and Economy Reward tickets.

Until that date, travellers on the least-expensive Getaway economy fares can also avail of Fly Ahead, but come December, you’ll need to be booked on an Elevate fare or higher to be eligible, or be flying on a reward booking.

Virgin Australia Fly Ahead: requesting an earlier flight

When travelling with only carry-on baggage, proceed straight to the Virgin Australia lounge and ask the staff at the service desk if an earlier flight might be available.

If you’re carting a checked bag, or in airports where Virgin Australia has no lounge, you can instead ask for an earlier flight at the priority check-in desks – but be sure to ask before your baggage has been tagged and taken away, otherwise you’ll be stuck on your original flight.

From December 1 2016, Gold and Platinum members can also move to an earlier flight at Virgin Australia general airport service desks and at check-in kiosks updated to support Fly Ahead.

Provided a seat is still available in the same cabin class as your original booking – such as a spare business class seat on business class tickets or an economy seat when flying in economy – you can be moved forward, free-of-charge.

Business class passengers can also be moved forward onto flights which only have seats remaining in economy if they so desire, but Virgin Australia offers no refund of the fare difference or in Velocity points in this case: it’s simply an option available if you really need to get somewhere fast.

Fly Ahead isn’t possible over the phone, however. You’ll need to front-up at the airport before your request can be considered. If you call, you’ll instead be asked to pay any usual flight change fees and fare differences, as these are only waived at the airport via Fly Ahead.

Virgin Australia Fly Ahead: things to note

Velocity Gold and Platinum members can typically choose their preferred seats from the moment a booking is made – but because you’re moving onto another flight where people have already done the same, the seat you originally chose, such as a Row 3 aisle, may have been snapped up.

Instead, you might need to sit further back in the cabin than usual to nab a window or an aisle seat, or – gasp – you might need to fly in a middle seat instead.

Catering also isn’t guaranteed on your new flight. In practice, this means business class passengers who have Flown Ahead will have their meal orders taken last from whatever remains available, although in economy there’s usually no difficulty in securing your complimentary snack and drink.

Also, you can only request a Fly Ahead for your next onward flight and must stick to your original flight routing: so if you’re booked to fly Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart, you can’t switch to a non-stop Sydney-Hobart service or move forward the Melbourne-Hobart leg while in Sydney.

In fact, on connecting journeys you can’t Fly Ahead at all after leaving your first airport, so while you may be able to Fly Ahead on the Sydney-Melbourne leg of the itinerary above, you’d need to remain on your original Melbourne-Hobart flight, reaching the city no sooner than planned.

Also read: Flybuys offers Virgin Australia Gold perks for up to 15 months

Connect with other business travellers in our Virgin Australia discussion group

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

GBRGB

GBRGB

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 221

Good initiative from VA and one QF should follow, flew DRW - BNE last week and the person next to me in the lounge said QF wanted nearly $1000 to move to the earlier flight as he was booked later in the day, 3 hours so he didn't bother, when I got on the flight there was many spare seats, just petty from QF.

flyOFTEN

flyOFTEN

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 129

have been in Qantas club a few times with others(never ever been a member) & asked if possible to go on an earlier flight & they said sure no problem. I usually travel domestically on cheapest & nastiest tickets or frequent flyer tickets.

Looking

Looking

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 118

I have been allowed to "roll forward" with Qantas on a non flex fare if there is plenty of time and there are spare seats. The issue I have is that at peak times, say between 16:00 and 19:00 the flights are full and even with a fully flex fare unlikely to be able to action the flight change... I have tried:(

UpUpAndAway

UpUpAndAway

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 294

I disagree, with Qantas the only time I get pushed forward is when in business. With Virgin I get pushed forward every time (20+ times this year) even at peak periods. 

riley

riley

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

I'm a massive proponent of fly forward. I find it mainly useful, especially on the triangle. I've been caught short a couple of times trying to get to or from Adelaide and Cairns but given I got the flight I had purchased, there were no complaints from me. If they were to alter or limit fly forward, I'd be directly out of VA and into QF. I believe it's the single greatest perk they have.

ausJCP

ausJCP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 213

Generally speaking, when flying domestically on QF (regardless of fare bucket), the lounge staff are more than happy to let me jump on an earlier flight if there's a seat available. This has happened as a Gold and Platinum member when I've asked them sporadically, but YMMV depending on time of day / mood of staff.

bigken

bigken

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Nov 2014

Total posts 24

I would have thought that it is a win-win situation. The passenger gets to their destination quicker and the airline has the possibility of selling the freed-up seat. So why isn't it offered to all passengers?

riley

riley

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

I agree that it's a win-win. Also reduces the funnel of passengers in the airport, which in-turn reduces the exposure to delays. Given the chances of them selling the newly freed up seats are limited, I think having it exclusively as an enhancement to high value frequent flyers is actually a good thing. 

henrus

henrus

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

It's not a published benefit but as a QF Club Silver I've never been knocked back when asking for an earlier flight (provided there is space)

aussiflyer

aussiflyer

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 53

It is a win win when not abused - if this sort of practice becomes widespread it negates the need for flexible airfares.

otternz

otternz

04 Mar 2015

Total posts 16

When I was Air NZ Gold, Virgin allowed me to "Fly Ahead" at no cost too.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2948

Interesting: cheers for sharing your experience, otternz. 'Officially', Fly Ahead isn't a benefit offered to partner airline frequent flyers, but as always it never hurts to ask!

UpUpAndAway

UpUpAndAway

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 294

One thing we are all forgetting is the benefit to airlines and passengers when Flying Ahead. It reduces the amount of people caught when bad weather is headed towards the airport, that's the main reason I fly Virgin. Knowing if I get to the airport early I can get home rather then being caught overnight. 

EdS

EdS

QF

21 Jul 2016

Total posts 37

I am QF Platinum and our coroprate policy is fly cheapest economy.  I am lucky to get QF over Virgin.  I have never been able to get an earlier flight than that booked and have had to sometimes wait 3 hours for my booked flight.  An occassional business class upgrade is sometimes welcome, the last DBX-GLA on a QF ticket on Emirates plane, for myself and wife.

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