Virgin Australia will continue to offer top-tier frequent flyers the chance to move to an earlier domestic flight for free, without paying a change fee or fare difference.
The airline had previously flagged that 'charges may apply' to Fly Ahead requests on the Elevate, Freedom, Business Saver and Business domestic fares under a revised fare structure beginning this Wednesday, September 7.
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"Gold and Platinum Velocity members who have purchased an Elevate fare or higher will be permitted to Fly Ahead in the same cabin providing there is a spare seat" the spokesman said. "No payment on any fare difference will be required."
Virgin currently specifies that Fly Ahead is is subject to the requested flight having "available seats in the same fare class or a lower fare class than the fare class originally purchased."
As first reported by Australian Business Traveller, Fly Ahead won't be available for travellers booked on the cheapest Getaway fares – an issue of concern to some corporate travellers whose flights are booked under a 'Lowest Fare of the Day' policy.
Many business travellers find Fly Ahead useful when meetings run short (or are cancelled) as it lets them hop onto an earlier flight than the one they booked onto.
However, there are believed to be concerns among Virgin Australia that many frequent flyers have been taking advantage of the scheme by consistently booking the lowest possible economy fare on the cheapest flight – typically the last flight of the evening – and invoking Fly Ahead to move onto an earlier flight which listed more expensive fares.
The airline's new fare system will also see more status credits awarded for business class and some high-priced economy fares.