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Virgin Australia: Gold Frequent Flyers lose ‘fly ahead’ benefit as part of status and lounge rejig

Virgin Australia: Gold Frequent Flyers lose ‘fly ahead’ benefit as part of status and lounge rejig

From 19 November 2021, Gold Velocity members will lose the ability to ‘fly ahead’, that is, change to an earlier flight without cost if they purchase one of the new ‘Choice’ category fares – formerly branded ‘Elevate’. If you book the next category up – the Flex fare category, then you can still access ‘fly ahead’. You can check the changes here.

Business class fares also come with the ‘fly ahead’ benefit and are often the same price as the flex category.

a close up of a text

Another downgrade

Virgin is restructuring and rebranding (look-over-there) its Velocity benefits in what amounts to a downgrade of benefits available for Gold members. Gold Velocity members will have to pay for seat allocation and luggage if they purchase a basic ‘Lite’ fare.

a plate of food and a drink on a table
At the new Virgin Lounge, Adelaide

Status benefits rejig

Earlier this week (16 August) Virgin announced a commitment to reopen its premium Club lounges in Brisbane Melbourne and Sydney, and closing down the ones in Canberra and Perth.

Virgin also foreshadowed the dropping of the ‘Club’ label and replacing it with ‘a new and fresh name that reflects the airline’s future direction‘.

It’s all part of a status, loyalty benefits and eligibility requirement downgrade that Virgin is foreshadowing will be introduced ‘soon’.

“Loyalty works both ways and we’re extremely focussed on delivering to our customers the best value and the best experiences when they choose to fly with Virgin Australia. Our unrivalled corporate airfares and premium loyalty program are a testament to that,”

Dave Emerson, Virgin Australia Group Chief Commercial Officer

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

I have been impressed by Virgin’s business class service and airport lounge service during the pandemic. I even went for the status match to get Gold status for a year. However, I can see the writing on the wall in terms of this loyalty redesign. And I’m not seeing any real additions to benefits. Gaining points with 7-Eleven and Medibank don’t have much truck with me – although you, dear ready may have a different view.

Velocity members are going to have to have rusted on loyalty to get anything much out of the frequent flyer program now. The benefits of Silver are minimal, Gold advantages are being pillaged, so, it’s only Platinum that gets you some real benefits.

However, further changes are foreshadowed, so I should relax until then. I’m a tree, I can bend.

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