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Virgin Australia Overhauls Fare Brands: Your Complete Guide

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Tom Goward | 19/08/2021

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From today Virgin Australia’s existing Economy fare brands, Getaway, Elevate, and Freedom, will be replaced by Lite, Choice and Flex options. In addition, Virgin has scrapped their Business Saver fare, with a single choice now available at the pointy end.

The move gives passengers the most diversified range of airfare options on the domestic market, as Virgin becomes Australia’s only airline to offer Economy, Economy X, Business and seat-only Economy fares. The new fares, which are on sale from today, enable Economy passengers to decide what level of service they require. Similar to Jetstar’s offering, Virgin Australia passengers who don’t want a checked bag, seat selection or increased flexibility have the option to opt-out and save.

The news isn’t exactly shocking. Following Virgin’s sale to US private equity group Bain Capital in September of 2020, Bain told us they understood the airline’s best chance for success was in the mid-market hybrid model. This way, they could compete with Qantas’ full-service product and low prices offered by its budget subsidiary Jetstar. The good news is it appears Virgin Australia will be more closely positioned towards the full-service model, rather than its budget predecessor Virgin Blue.

Here, we take a comprehensive look at the changes to Virgin Australia’s fare brands.

Virgin Australia’s new fares

  • Economy Lite is Virgin’s new unbundled fare with barebones inclusions for travellers who want to book their trip at the lowest price possible
  • Economy Choice offers the best of both worlds with additional flexibility at a reasonable price
  • Economy Flex is Virgin’s top of the line Economy fare and offers full flexibility if your plans change
  • Business is the only cash fare for Business class seating

 LiteChoice​​​​​​​FlexBusiness
Standard seat selection$
Economy X$$$
Checked baggage$1x23kg1x23kg2x32kg
Carry-on baggage1x7kg1x7kg1x7kg1x7kg
Tea, coffee & water
In-flight meal
No showLoss of fareLoss of fareLoss of fareLoss of fare

✔ – Included in fare
✘ – Not included in fare
$ – Additional cost

Changes and Cancellations

If you need to make changes or cancel your upcoming flight, the below fees may apply. For flight changes, you will need to cover any fare increase if the new fare is more expensive than the original fare paid.

 LiteChoice​​​​​​​FlexBusiness
Changes more than 14 days before departure$80
Changes up to midnight before departure$80$80
Changes before departure$80
Refund to Travel Bank credit$80
Refund to original form of payment$80

✔ – Included in fare
✘ – Not included in fare
$ – Additional cost

Checked Baggage

There are no substantial changes to Virgin’s checked baggage allowance, apart from the new Lite fare brand which only includes one carry-on bag. Travellers who wish to check a bag on a Lite fare will need to pay an additional fee, even with Velocity status.

 Non & RedSilverGoldPlatimum
Lite$$$$
Choice1 x 23kg2 x 23kg2 x 23kg3 x 23kg
Flex1 x 23kg2 x 23kg2 x 23kg3 x 23kg
Economy Reward1 x 23kg2 x 23kg2 x 23kg3 x 23kg
Business2 x 32kg2 x 32kg2 x 32kg3 x 32kg
Business Reward2 x 32kg2 x 32kg2 x 32kg3 x 32kg

Checked Baggage Fees

You can purchase up to two bags through the Virgin Australia website or over the phone. With the introduction of unbundled fares, Virgin has dropped their online baggage fees, but bags booked over the phone will now cost more. That’s good news as guest contact centre representatives can honour the online rate over the phone if you experience errors when adding a bag online.

Virgin says that guests who pre-purchase a bag and decide to change their flight can have this allowance transferred to the new booking. How this works is yet to be seen.

 OnlineBy phoneAt the airport
Domestic$40$60$100
Trans-Tasman$60$100$160
International Short Haul$60$100$160

Overweight Baggage Fees

There are slight changes to Virgin’s overweight baggage fees. If you arrive at the airport with a checked bag that exceeds your limit, expect to pay an additional fee as below.

  • Domestic: $50 (up from $45)
  • Trans-Tasman and International Short Haul: $100 (up from $90)

Seat selection

Passengers who book a Choice or Flex fare in Economy, or decide to fly in Business will receive complimentary seat selection.

Passengers who book an Economy Lite fare will need to pay for the privilege of selecting their desired seat. The cost to do so will start at $7 for a standard seat, and vary depending on the length of your flight. Velocity VIP and Platinum members will receive complimentary seat selection.

Note this includes wet-lease flights operated by Alliance Airlines on behalf of Virgin Australia.

Virgin says that all paid seats will be non-refundable unless there is an involuntary change or cancellation. If for some reason you are involuntarily downgraded from Economy X to a standard seat, or from a window/aisle to a middle seat, the refund process should happen automatically.

Economy class seat blocking for Velocity members

As was previously the case, Virgin will block the first portion of the cabin for selection by elite Velocity members. On the 737-800, this means rows six through twelve will be blocked, as below:

  • Row 6: VIP and Platinum
  • Row 7-9: VIP, Platinum and Gold
  • Row 10-12: VIP, Platinum, Gold and Silver

Inflight food and drink

Virgin’s inflight food and drink offering remains the same with complimentary tea, coffee and water in Economy class and plated meals in Business. Economy class passengers can purchase additional items from Virgin Australia’s buy onboard menu.

Although the airline says tea, coffee and water is always included in Economy, we have found this isn’t the case on some ultra-short flights. As a regular passenger between Hobart and Melbourne, I’ve found some crew will only offer water (blaming the short flight time), while others include hot drinks. It is entirely possible that this is an actual policy, but the haphazard nature leads me to believe it may come down to cabin crew.

Want to know more about Business class meals? Check out our coverage of Virgin Australia’s New Business Class Menu!

New fare pricing

Based on our testing, Virgin’s new fare brands haven’t had a significant impact on price. The saving for Lite over Choice is surprising, with just $10 the difference on our Brisbane-Melbourne dummy booking.

Here’s how Virgin Australia’s new fare types stack up for a one-way journey in the first week of November.

Adelaide to Melbourne:

  • Lite: unavailable
  • Choice: $59
  • Flex: $219
  • Business: $299

Brisbane to Melbourne:

  • Lite: $139
  • Choice: $149
  • Flex: $335
  • Business: $345

Perth to Melbourne:

  • Lite: $215
  • Choice: $235
  • Flex: $449
  • Business: $1,149

Virgin Australia’s new fares: FAQ’s

When will Virgin Australia’s new fares be available?
The new fare structure will go live on 19 August 2021, with all fares available for booking immediately. The only exception is Economy Lite fares which can be booked for travel commencing 10 September 2021.

Why can’t I find an Economy Lite fare on my preferred route/date​​​​​​​?
Economy Lite fares will only be available on selected routes at certain times and may have sold out on some flights.

What about my existing Economy booking? Will I need to purchase checked baggage and seat selection? ​​​​​​​
There will be no impact to existing Economy bookings made before 19 August 2021. The fare rules that applied when you booked your booked fare will still apply.
​​​​
Will I earn Velocity Points on an Economy Lite fare? ​​​​​​​
Yes, Virgin Australia flights will continue to earn 5 Velocity Points per $1 spent.

Will I earn Status Credits on an Economy Lite fare? ​​​​​​​
Yes, Status Credits are earned on Economy Lite fares. Check Virgin Australia’s Status Credits Earn tables to determine how many Status Credits your booking will earn.

Will Silver, Gold or Platinum Velocity members earn bonus points on Economy Lite fares? ​​​​​​​
No, Velocity Points Bonus will not be earned on Economy Lite fares.

Will Economy Light fares count as an eligible sector for Velocity membership?
No, Economy Lite fares do not count as eligible sectors.

Can I use Velocity Points to upgrade an Economy Lite fare? ​​​​​​​
No, Economy Lite fares are not eligible for UpgradeMe points upgrades.

Do Velocity Gold members still have access to the Fly Ahead benefit?
Velocity Gold members will lose Fly Ahead benefits on domestic Economy fares from 19 November 2021. Fly Ahead is not available for Gold members on Economy Choice, Getaway or Lite fares.

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Tom Goward

Tom is a Hobart-based writer with a passion for aviation and travel.

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