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Virgin's Christmas Eve Points Rip-off - and useless customer service

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dilipsea

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Jan 18, 2014
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Trying to keep this brief....and maintain a cool head about the way Virgin ripped me off on Christmas Eve.....
  • Cousin flying over to visit us in Karratha from Melbourne (via Perth is the only way to get here for those that may not know). I offered to use points for the Perth-Karratha sector, so told him he only needed to book Melbourne-Perth.
  • I confirmed with him that he had included his Velocity Frequent Flyer number in the MEL-PER booking
  • When I made the booking for the connecting flight I ensured to add his Velocity FF number there too. The ticket cost me about 14000 points since it was done about four weeks prior departure.
  • Time between flights was supposed to be 60 minutes (which I thought was ample)
  • When he reached MEL airport, Virgin refused to check his bag right through because they were 'different booking numbers'. I told him to show them the printout of booking, Velocity FF card etc. to prove it was him (and no one else) who was planning to travel onwards...but they wouldn't budge
  • Starting to get a bit edgy, I started working the phones whilst he was in the air...called Velocity Gold number, explained the case - guy on the line said 'yes it is our policy he will just have to pick up bags and re-check in at Perth'. I mentioned that it would probably be tight given Perth baggage handlers...he said tell cousin to approach ground staff and they 'may be able to help'. I asked if I could change his flight to the next one (two hours later) - the guy says sorry - only can change more than 24 hours prior.
  • As it turned out, flight was delayed by about 25 minutes. Ground staff did not assist in any way, and further said even if they could, they have nothing to do with Frequent Flyer point bookings.
  • Basically didn't allow my cousin to board the flight or check in his baggage
  • I got on the phone again with Velocity Gold - asked if they could assist in any way - sorry says the lady - pay about 350 in cash or about 46000 points for the next flight which departs in two hours.
  • Being Christmas Eve and wanting to have him over (rather than spend Xmas Eve in Perth airport and take the next days flight which was about 20000 points cheaper), I had to pay Virgin their ransom points.
  • Their Customer Service has been appalling with statements such as 'Exceptional customer service is at the heart of our airline' (but sorry we can't help you with a refund so buzz off...or words to that effect) I really thought they'd at least refund EITHER of the two fares but no such luck..
  • Oh and today I've FINALLY been shown where it is mentioned that they won't allow you to check bags through if they are on separate booking numbers (because I thought I had searched the relevant pages)....guess what it's not under BOOKING or PLANNING...it's under the 'EXPERIENCE' tab below things like Airport Lounges and Airport Parking etc.....go figure!!!
  • So, moral of the story...am going to use up my Velocity points (have already started) and write to them to ask them to cancel my Velocity membership....yep I'm serious.....they don't seem to have changed from being a third-rate 'budget' airline...will just keep my Qantas status and points - don't need to use Virgin if there is a (far superior) alternative...wish I could present someone with my Velocity Gold membership (anyway have had no use of it flying out of Karratha)
  • Rant over....apologies if too long...good night
 

Pleb Status

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Feb 19, 2011
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I found it very clear on the VA website that baggage needs to be collected and rechecked if travel is not on a single ticket. They even have a specific web page just to tell you that. I think this policy dates back to their LCC days and they appear to enforce it which the OP has found out the hard way.

Always book on a single ticket or leave a lot (hours) of time between flights.
 

aaflyer

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I always find it amusing that people blame an airline for them not reading the terms and conditions they published (and assuming that 60 is suitable for a connection on separate tickets, especially where baggage is concerned).

I would suck this up as lesson learned personally. I do find it perplexing as to why Virgin won't do a through connect on separate PNR's when Qantas have done this in the past for me.
 
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Aussie_flyer

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Whilst the rules are there and in this case Virgin haven't done anything wrong according to the RULES, it could certainly have been handled better.

Seems ridiculous to me that they won't through check bags to their OWN flight, that is something Qantas don't have any issue with at all, separate tickets included.
 

BAM1748

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As others have said, QANTAS do this easily and without fuss.

As to using Virgin next time, well you know what to do.

Matt
 

esseeeayeenn

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Qantas has done this for me many many times.
The only time it seemed to be an issue, it turned out that the very kind gentleman at check in had noticed I was flying BNE-ADL- then ADL-PER and had taken the initiative to see if he could offer me a direct BNE-PER flight.
An offer I declined as I wanted to earn the extra status credits.
The point being it does all come down to customer service and Virgin's evolution towards a full service airline is proceeding, but unevenly.
 

Hvr

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I doubt we'll ever hear from the OP again but my thought is that as an experienced flyer (i.e. VA SG) I wonder why they didn't just book the whole trip? Pulling the DYKWIA on the phone wouldn't have gone down well especially on a very busy flight day.
 

williamsf1

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I doubt we'll ever hear from the OP again but my thought is that as an experienced flyer (i.e. VA SG) I wonder why they didn't just book the whole trip? Pulling the DYKWIA on the phone wouldn't have gone down well especially on a very busy flight day.
The only possible valid complaint is the no thru check .... I am sure it is possible these days?????
 

esseeeayeenn

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I wonder why they didn't just book the whole trip?
One sector (PER-KTA) was booked as an award flight by points redemption, the other sector (MEL-PER) was a revenue ticket, paid for with real money.
Virgin don't allow you to mix awards and paid fares in the same booking.

I discovered yesterday this when I booked for 2 family members to join me in Bali for a weekend.
I intended to pay for one with points and the other with cash, but the return flights had no awards available.
So I tried to book them both up on awards and both back with cash.
Have to do two separate bookings and pay the cash fare as a one way fare - which added 40% to the half return fare!
I thought this might be something the guest contact centre could help with but sadly not.
I note there is another thread in the Qantas forum which notes that they allow you to mix awards and paid sector in the same booking.
One can only hope VA will do the same in future.
 

dilipsea

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Jan 18, 2014
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Thanks for all your comments. I should have added somewhere in there that the reason I thought Virgin would do it is because ive done it numerous times on qantas when combining work trips with family visits (I.e two separate pnr's with bags checked through by qantas based on the fact that my frequent flyer was on both. No dramas at all.
Sure I thought I had read all virgins terms and conditions but I only looked on their ' booking' and 'planning' tabs..... so next time I should remember to read every single tab on an airline or providers site
Anyway it is a steep learning curve..... avoid Virgin at all costs.... and if unavoidable then nothing to d do with onward bookings on the same day.
Typing on tablet whilst traveling (not on Virgin thankfully.....)
 

Pele

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Gday

With such a short connection you should only travel with carry on. Even then it is a risky strategy especially at Christmas.

Pele.
 

medhead

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I've had much trouble trying to booking connecting flights with VA in the past. Back then they seemed to have a 90 MCT between flights on the same booking. Especially crappy when wanting to connect to a flight 85 minutes later, but system only allowing the flight 3 hours later. Not sure if that has changed.

Only other comment is that I don't find Qantas to be far superior.
 

mannej

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Thanks for all your comments. I should have added somewhere in there that the reason I thought Virgin would do it is because ive done it numerous times on qantas when combining work trips with family visits (I.e two separate pnr's with bags checked through by qantas based on the fact that my frequent flyer was on both. No dramas at all.
Lesson learnt - VA are not QF!
 

jackthomas

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I'm constantly confused by the "But Qantas do it" argument...
It's just like saying because McDonalds do it this way, KFC need to do the same....

Rules are rules.
 

Aussie_flyer

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I'm constantly confused by the "But Qantas do it" argument...
It's just like saying because McDonalds do it this way, KFC need to do the same....

Rules are rules.
Well virgin are trying to become full service and compete with qf domestically so it seems like a valid point to me.
 

jackthomas

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Well virgin are trying to become full service and compete with qf domestically so it seems like a valid point to me.
Yes, but a different policy on one issue (clearly set out in the Terms & Conditions) isn't a lack of adequate customer service nor is it a determining factor of a full service carrier (at least as far as I'm concerned, although we all have different expectations)
 

Aussie_flyer

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Yes, but a different policy on one issue (clearly set out in the Terms & Conditions) isn't a lack of adequate customer service nor is it a determining factor of a full service carrier (at least as far as I'm concerned, although we all have different expectations)
Yes but it's only natural for people to compare Virgin and Qantas....
 
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