With much hype, Virgin Australia recently introduced its “Fare Promise”. Under the scheme, Virgin claims it will match the prices of its own flights if they are cheaper on a third-party website. In addition, members with eligible claims will receive 500 Velocity points. It sounds good in theory, but a closer inspection of the fine print would suggest that the policy is not even worth its weight in air.
The long list of terms, conditions and eligibility criteria appear to make the offer almost superfluous. Firstly, only Virgin domestic flights, with a VA flight number are eligible. Any booking that has an international flight, or a codeshare flight in it is instantly ineligible. Secondly, the third-party website must be based in Australia, end with ‘.au’ and be a licenced Australian Travel Agency. This means that any sites based overseas are exempt. And of the booking sites based in Australia, many are not “licenced”, meaning they too are ineligible for a price match. Thirdly, any promotional or sale fares are also exempt. So, if a third party website is having a sale, Virgin will not match the discounted price. Furthermore, Virgin will not honour the price match if they suspect the lower price is the result of any kind of error.
But it gets worse. Virgin state in the Fare Promise terms and conditions that they will have “final authority on the interpretation of the Eligibility Criteria” and further that they will not engage in any correspondence if a claim is denied. Virgin also reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any time without notice. So, even if you think you meet the criteria, Virgin still have the right to deny your claim based on their own interpretation of the rules.
So, it’s little wonder that our members are struggling to see the value in the Fare Promise. Virgin’s fares are generally available for the same price on third party websites. But if you did find a cheaper fare, the time and hassle of checking the terms & conditions and calling the Guest Contact Centre would be rewarded only with 500 Velocity points.
It usually works out that when you dig one out, you spend more than 500 points in your own time getting Virgin to honour their offer. Promise!
One of our members recently put the Fare Promise to the test. Unfortunately it proved to be a failure. The member tried to price-match based on the prices on two third-party websites. Both claims were denied.
Tried to match with Tripsta and eDreams. Both denied. I could have tried others but gave up even though there were about 4 other third party sites with the same flight cheaper than Virgin. eDreams because the site is au.edreams.com (no au at the end) and Tripsta because it is not a Australian licensed travel agent. Useless fare promise. I booked with another airline for the flight instead out of spite.
While it may be possible to find a lower fare on an eligible site, many members do not believe it is worth the time and effort of making a claim.
Qantas have a similar “Price Promise” policy with similarly restrictive terms and conditions. However, Jetstar’s “Price Beat Guarantee” is a lot more generous. As part of that offer, Jetstar will beat any similarly-timed competitor’s flight price by 10%. While there are still some conditions that need to be met, Jetstar’s offer is easier to take up and some genuine savings can be had.
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