Virgin Make Horror Changes to Velocity Frequent Flyer Program And their Frequent flyers aren't happy

If you’re a Velocity Frequent Flyer like me (of course you are I’ve been telling you to fly Virgin for two years – sorry!) ready yourself for some shit news. I’ve just been over at Australian Business Traveller reading about the changes to fares, seating choice and points bonuses arriving in September, and it’s not pretty. Readers of ABT are ropeable, and it only takes a quick glance at the comments section to discover just how ropeable they are.

Over the past three years, I’ve been anal about flying Virgin. I’ve waited in airports for hours just to board a two leg Virgin flight when the remainder of the group is flying Jetstar direct. I’ve requested that PR companies place me on Virgin flights despite entire media groups flying Qantas. I haven’t flown a domestic carrier other than Virgin since I went to the Gold Coast on Tiger for a bucks weekend at the end of 2013. In summary, I couldn’t be more loyal, and that’s why, after my travels in October, I’ll be a Platinum Velocity member. What my Platinum membership will get me, however, is anyone’s guess.

On September 7 Virgin will drop their existing fare classes on both domestic and international flights in favour of nine new ticket categories. I’ll let you read over the finer details at ABT but what you can take from the changes are the following:

  • Restrictions on the ‘Fly Ahead’ perk for top tier flyers on all fare types.
  • Tier bonuses for Platinum, Gold and Silver members being abolished on discount seats.
  • New restrictions on flight upgrades for Silver, Gold and Platinum members on select flights.

While I’m all for the addition of a Business Saver fare, it’s a simple response to the hundreds of flights a week that take to the air with no one sitting in Business Class due to outrageously overpriced fares.

The new Getaway discount fare (the one everyone buys), which replaces the Saver fare, introduces the worst of the changes. All flyers, including Platinum and Gold members, will be forced to pay to select their seat. In my eyes, this is a disgrace. For many top tier Business flyers, fare class is not a choice, they’re booked on the cheapest fare that gets them to their destination – these members will have to pay to select a seat under the new changes. Hundreds of other professions such as entertainers, artists, journalists, sports people who also travel frequently and are sent itineraries that have been booked for them will have to pay to pick an aisle seat.

Virgin have confirmed that Gold and Platinum Frequent Flyers will be reserved their usual allocation of seats starting from Row 3 (on domestic flights) for Platinum and Row 5 for Gold but you’ll still need to pay to select a seat within the allocated area! I know I’d rather sit in the last row of the plane in the aisle over row 3 in the middle.

I’m shocked and slightly embarrassed that I’ve been touting this program for so long. Let’s hope they listen to their most loyal customers on this one and rethink the changes.

Head to ABT to read more.