Virgin Australia to continue free Fly Ahead for frequent flyers

By David Flynn, September 6 2016
Virgin Australia to continue free Fly Ahead for frequent flyers

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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However, a Virgin Australia spokesman has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that Platinum and Gold members of the airline's Velocity Frequent Flyer scheme will continue to enjoy free Fly Ahead when booked in business class as well as the highest Elevate and Freedom economy fare types. 

"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.

Read: Virgin Australia reveals new Velocity status credit earning rates


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 146

This isn't going to end well. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Nov 2012

Total posts 22

I think this is a fair compromise. People were clearly taking advantage of the system (which was seen in the comments on this web site) and Virgin need to return to profit quicksmart. 

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 54

Agreed - it is still a good proposition that makes sense. As long as Elevate RBD's dont see price increases.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 146

Disagree - I understand that there were people rorting the system for Fly Forward. But you don't erode your value base for the significant majority of top tier users by removing the misused benefit all together (which will largely be the case, as most are required to fly 'cheapest fare of the day', thus will no longer have access to fly-forward).

As the program owner, and under the T&Cs you're within your right to rather, redefine the usage terms. Which is what I think they've tried to do here. But they've gone about it in a way that leaves the vast majority of their top tier flyers still wthout access to Fly Florward (as most will be booked on a 'getaway' fare due to company travel policy). In effect, it's a nothing move. A PR stunt.

Rather, introduce a 'fair use' policy, or maybe put a restriction on how many hours you can fly forward, or whatever. It makes far better sense.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Nov 2012

Total posts 22

A "fair use" policy simply adds further complexity which is why it would not be efficient. In 2016, the KISS principle applies more than ever before.

Just because somebody takes a lot of flights doesn't mean they are a 'valued' customer. They would much prefer the seats taken by customers with a higher yield and thus the changes that are being made to the status earn rates for Velocity.

At a guess, I would say they want to clear the decks in the platinum and gold tiers of people who fly often for people who generate more revenue, while at the same time solving the overcrowding problems in the lounges which is happening more often.

23 Feb 2016

Total posts 34

It's not going to be free, ALL Elevate airfares come at a 20% premium or more.

All they are doing is renaming Savers to Getaway, reducing the amout of SC earn and removing FlyAhead along with the bonus points earn.

The Elevate fare is a new fare altogether being placed in between Saver and Flexi.

This is a horrific change, make no mistake.

Virgin Australia Platinum

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 69

Ill admit, Im guilty of taking advantage of the scheme by booking the lowest priced ticket which usually is one of the last flights of the day. I just have no choice as I have to abide by a travel policy of cheapest fare. Out of habit, as a leisure flyer on non-work travel, I have booked the last flight which is often the cheapest, and then gone to the lounge and flown ahead. More often than not, the lounge service desk agents have moved me onto the earlier flight even when theres no Saver seats available and only Flexi fares etc. which was against the policy before the changes anyway. Now it wont even be possible to fly ahead on T fares which I seem to always get booked in as there usually is widespread T availabilty on the Triangle route given how many flights per day. Time will tell if the lounge service agents will bend the rules like before and allow me to fly ahead on a T fare for example. IF not, then I wonder if theyll now be very firm in not allowing me to fly ahead when I originally booked a Q fare and now theres only Y fare seats on my requested flight.

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 126

Let me get this right and please correct me if I am in error....

You have a later flight booked and you turn up at the lounge and ask if you could be moved to an earlier flight. If there are empty seats on the earlier flight then surely it is on the airline's interest to move you, as it provides them with an opportunity to fly the earlier flight with more pax and frees up an opportunity to sell the seat you had booked on the later flight.

Where am I going wrong with this train of thought?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 246

I think it depends on the flights in question. So if you book a 9pm flight and want to be transfered to a 6pm flight, I'd have to respectfuly disagree with you.

Seats on that 9pm flight I'm guessing would be cheaper and harder to sell then those on the 6pm flight. So by moving you the airline is taking a small hit in the fare difference and movie a vacancy from a high selling trip to a lesser one.

I can appreciate your train though.

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 35

but if the movement to the earlier flight was only allowed to be made an hour before the flight (or closer) then the seats on the early flight can reasonably be assumed to have gone empty, you've given yourself a larger buffer for recovery should there be problems in later flights, and potentially opened up a seat for sale.

It is a shame that Virgin are pulling more and more value out of the program, I expect these changes will see plenty of frequent flyers shifting allegiance towards QF. There isn't much benefit to being Platinum for domestic travellers, only trans-tasman or internationals who take checked baggage.

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