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Virgin to revamp domestic and international fares

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 10, 2016

Virgin Australia plans to introduce new fares for domestic and international travel that it says will offer travellers more choice.

The airline has rebranded its fares with names such as Go, Go Plus, Getaway, Elevate, Freedom, each of which have different levels of flexibility and inclusions. There are also new fare categories for premium economy and business class tickets.

The nine new fare categories, which collectively Virgin has branded “Fares for you”, are due to come into effect for tickets booked after September 7.

“The new fare structure provides increased flexibility for guests during the booking process,” Virgin said in a note to travel agents.

“We want to provide our guests with a range of fares across our domestic and international routes so they can choose the fare that most suits them every time they travel.”


“Coupled with our award-winning service, we’re confident that our new fare structure will be popular with travellers.”

As part of the changes, Virgin is removing certain benefits for its elite frequent flyer members travelling on the cheapest economy tickets.

For example, the most restrictive and lowest priced Getaway domestic fare will not earn silver, gold and platinum Velocity members bonus points, while gold and platinum members will lose the ability to “Fly Ahead” (catch an earlier flight) if they arrive at the airport early.

Further, all travellers, including elite Velocity members, will have to pay to select their seat at any point between the time they booked their ticket until when checkin opens 48 hours before departure when on a Getaway domestic fare.

Virgin said in the note to travel agents the introduction of “preferred paid seating is part of our greater range of fares across all domestic and international routes to offer guests more choice and flexibility during the booking process”.

On the international front, Virgin is re-introducing a carry-on only fare for its international short-haul network, such as flights to Bali, Fiji and the South Pacific (excluding trans-Tasman routes), called “Go”.

Virgin already offers a seat-only fare for flights between Australia and New Zealand, aligning its product with alliance partner Air New Zealand on trans-Tasman routes.

There were also new fares for premium or business, with “Premium Saver” and “Business Saver” categories that offer less flexibility and more restrictive cancellation conditions.

The proposed changes follow Virgin posting a $224.7 million loss for 2015/16 – the second biggest full year loss in the airline’s history – after it booked a series of one-off and restructuring charges as part of fleet restructuring and cost-reduction initiatives.

Virgin’s Getaway domestic fare with reduced benefits mirrors a trend globally for so-called basic economy fares.

In the US, Delta Air Lines was the first to roll out a bare bones economy fare on selected routes, with “Basic Economy” a non-refundable, non-changeable ticket that offered limited frequent flyer benefits and no advanced seat selection. American and United were planning to follow suit with a similar product of their own.

A March 2016 research note from thinktank CAPA – Centre for Aviation said these “branded fares” have become an increasing popular way for the big US network carriers to compete effectively with ultra low-cost carriers such as Spirit and Frontier.

“The introduction of more segmented fares should actually allow American, Delta and United to add more sophistication to their revenue management and avoid dilution of revenue,” CAPA said.

“These fare products aim to create pricing segments which cater to a wide swathe of passengers.”

CAPA cautioned that although these branded fares had the potential to generate billions of dollars of annual revenue for the three large US global network airlines, it created “more complexity in the methods they use to price fares”.

John Thomas, who will join Virgin as group executive for the airline’s domestic and international operations in September, said Air New Zealand led the industry with the introduction of these branded fares through its Seat, Seat+Bag, The Works and Works Deluxe fares.

“The industry is moving very much towards the branded fares,” Thomas told reporters during Virgin’s business class launch in Los Angeles on July 20.

Virgin said more information would be made available closer to the September 7 launch date.

Virgin’s new fare categories

Domestic: Economy – Getaway (least flexible), Elevate, Freedom (most flexible). Business – Business Saver, Business
International short-haul: Economy – Go (carry on luggage only), Go Plus, Getaway, Freedom. Business – Business Saver, Business
Trans-Tasman: Economy – Go (carry on luggage only), Go Plus, Getaway, Freedom. Premium Economy – Premium Saver, Premium. Business – Business Saver, Business
International long-haul: Economy – Getaway (least flexible), Elevate, Freedom (most flexible). Premium Economy – Permium Saver, Premium. Business – Business Saver, Business

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Comments (17)

  • VA Platinum


    I’m sure it will hit me soon when I realize that platinum now means nothing…

    Wow what a mess!

  • kerry


    VA – please flog your 777-300 off whilst Air NZ may still want a few

  • JT


    I flew with Virgin between BRI and CBR return on Wednesday, and as a QClub member it was my first flight with Virgin in years. Both aircraft were dirty and looked somewhat aged, and the lack of full cabin service was noted. No matter how Virgin packages its fares, it’s going to need to work on the overall product and experience first because they are a long way off.

  • Ben


    @ JT I actually have the opposite experience. I have always thought that QF service is way below par based on them being a ‘premium’ carrier, not to mention the prices they charge. The staff from the call centre, to the check in counter to the cabin crew, in my opinion have this kind of haughty arrogance in their attitude. Almost like they’re looking down at the fare paying passenger and saying ‘You should consider it a privilege to fly with us and don’t expect us to go out of our way for you’ Of course that is a generalisation and I have had some good service with QF, but it is the exception rather than the rule.

    Virgin do have some shortcomings but generally I find they have friendlier staff (Although these days with slightly less character than the days of Virgin Blue) The aircraft are invariably the same or better/newer than QF. They may not have all the bells and whistles (in some areas) that QF do, however as a value for money prospect they beat QF hands down any day. Also they are maturing into a very competitive premium airline. VA, unlike QF, aren’t trying to be someone they’re not. In my opinion they give QF a run for their money regardless and offer overall better customer service.

    If QF want me to take their ‘premium airline’ claim seriously, I think they need to change their customer service culture. Take a leaf out of airlines books – like SQ, CX or NZ.

    QF seem to have their detractors (like me) but for some reason also seem to have a rusted-on group of loyal followers – They seem to blind to the shortcomings of customer service and the invariably superior product of their competitors.

    I’d be interested to see this new fare structure from Virgin as long as it’s an improvement. My only concern would be ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

  • Mal


    Dropping the benefit of changing to an earlier flight for Platinum flyers like me is a pain. However it must be said if their competitor has the same rules then it is not relevant.

  • Richard


    Wow! As a 6’5″ Platinum Flyer booking extra legroom seats ahead, and the ability to “fly ahead” were the reason I used Virgin. You’ve just got rid of my loyalty, Well done.

  • john



    I must agree. Qantas staff have a very strange attitude. Fly weekly & have over 2 million ff pts but always travel on cheapest fares & recently used ff points for a leisure trip SYD/BNE evening flight. Jetstar availability & timing suited better at time of booking. Jetstar flight was cancelled at last minute & Jetstar staff were telling people to go “home” if they lived in Sydney & come back next day, while Qantas had dozens if not more seats on at least the 5 last flights that day. Jetstar staff said couldn’t help & Qantas staff kept saying, Jetstar is not Qantas. Terrible attitude, which is making review who I fly with & who I earn credit card points with.

  • Vannus


    To Ben…..

    Your assumption that QF Call Centre staff are ‘haughty’ is way off the mark!
    BTW, QF have more than one call centre!

    A more customer service oriented group of people you wouldn’t find anywhere.

    For my money, I prefer to fly the safest Airline in the world!

    Fly Virgin if you like, but the way they’re haemorrhaging money, & have to be continuously financially bolstered by Etihad, Singapore Airlines, & the various Chinese companies’ which now own them, is quite a worry.

    They’ve made a loss, yet again, FY 2015-2016.

    QANTAS will announce their figures’ on 24/8/2016.
    I know it will be a Profit, leaving Virgin floundering!

  • Bradley


    Get really peeved with Virgin continuously calling their paying passengers’ ‘guests’!
    What garbage!

    A ‘guest’ pays nothing.
    Maybe they should check the meaning of the word in the OED!

    Persons’ who fly on an aircraft, travel on a train or bus, for which they PAY for that carriage, are PASSENGERS’!
    Or, if you prefer, customers. They’re NOT guests!

  • David P


    Its odd how ‘Fares for you’ and ‘increasing flexibility’ seem to be code for Increased costs and reduced benefits.

  • James


    I must say I agree with JT and disagree with Ben, and I was probably a rusted on VA supported about 12 months ago!

    Since then I’ve experienced increasing fares, increasingly dirty and worn aircraft, grumpier staff (morale is down, I understand that – but customer service is key!), average SVOD content and their lounges which were always a weak point have descended into an absolute joke in terms of quality and quantity of food provided compared to Qantas. I don’t even bother going to the Lounge now before VA flights.

    In contrast I find that Qantas have really got their customer service hat on and are investing in this area, they have the benefit of being in a huge role, new refurbished aircraft coming on line, brand new aircraft and routes opening up – so the morale factor is good, but I find the customer service to be great these days, as an average. Compared to VA who slam down a stale cracker (= meal on VA) then run and hide in the galley for the rest of the flight.

    With this devaluation of my status, I will be moving to Qantas/Qantaslink now 100%, Gave VA a good go for 4-5 years with a decent % of my flying $ but to be honest their model is not working and maybe this move will help them from a $ point of view but not for me. I think they have their priorities wrong.

    My thoughts.

  • franz chong


    what’s an elevate fare might I ask?I am not fussy about having to pay for food even if for the most part it resembles the things one buys at their local petrol station for the most part or drinks but am happy to keep the points rolling in and the ability to choose my own seat at time of booking.

  • Colin


    It appears that VA have just discounted my loyalty.

    VA starting to sound like a low cost carrier.

  • Ben


    People can disagree with me as per above comments and admittedly I may not have had cause to call the Qantas Call Centre since internet bookings have become commonplace – But when I have contacted them years ago I had almost a full-on argument with this person over a very simple question concerning my booking. He eventually gave me the answer I was after but only after several minutes of asking me why I was asking such a question. If he’d had just answered it to start with, no problem. This is what I mean by haughty arrogance. They may have improved recently but I can only speak of my own experience.

    Same attitude from several QF check-in or so-called ‘customer service’ staff more recently – Very arrogant and brusque. Not to mention the cabin crew on a recent flight – after I politely said ‘no thanks’ to an inflight snack on a short flight, she just grunted and said ‘oh – right then’ and rudely turned away. It was almost like she was surprised or offended that I dare refuse their food. No customer service focus whatsoever.

    Contrast this with a recent flight with SQ – Crew almost falling over themselves to go out of their way for you and even to the extent where they acknowledge where you have thanked them and be almost surprised that you would do that. They pay attention to the details and a personal customer-focused approach.

    To be fair, I have had good service with QF but it’s very hit and miss. To that extent I’ve had one or two ordinary experiences with VA as well. Overall though I have to say that VA offers better customer service. That’s just my experience.

    @ James I respect your opinion, however one thing you’ve said re: QF seems strange and seems to confirm what I’m saying. You say ‘In contrast I find that Qantas have really got their customer service hat on and are investing in this area’ That’s fantastic that QF are improving their customer service recently – However ultimately they’ve been in the airline business for close to 100 years. I would have thought that if they had any interest in providing high quality and consistent customer service that reflects the prices they charge, they should have figured it out long before now.

    Having said all that – To get back to the article. If this new fare structure from VA is at all a step back from what they’re offering now I will not be happy and may well jump ship to QF.

  • Ben


    @ Vannus – Sorry I’ve only just seen your comment. Just to clarify a few of your points:

    ‘Your assumption that QF Call Centre staff are ‘haughty’ is way off the mark!’

    Sorry – I’m not making an assumption – My statement about some QF staff being ‘haughty’ is my opinion based on my actual experience of them.

    ‘BTW, QF have more than one call centre!’

    I’m not disputing this – I haven’t actually said that they don’t have more than one call centre so I don’t understand your point.

    ‘A more customer service oriented group of people you wouldn’t find anywhere.’

    That is your opinion and I respect that, however I do disagree with it.

  • Lee Anderson


    Hey Borghetti, bugger off back to QANTAS where you belong. NINE different fare types? Removing benefits for elite frequent flyer members? I’ve been a Platinum FF since the moment the level was introduced but have seen a gradual decline in service, attitude, morale and value over the past couple of years. Time to go back to QANTAS me thinks (until Borghetti does).

  • franz chong


    I am pretty much given I am on a low income in conjunction with help from family and government to accept anything for any price.as long as on some fares you can still get a reasonable number of points and the ability to pick your own seats is good enough for me,the days in the past of the Saturday night requirement are thankfully behind us.I remember and lived through that era when we had Ansett back in the eighties and always ask to this day why I had to on my Melbourne school trip in 1989 I had to spend an extra day there when they were about to get the train home to Adelaide that night,Not that I am complaining Getting the 767 home on the Sunday Night at 6:30pm versus struggling on the Overland Overnight from Hell was worth it for my own safety.

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