Fly Ahead is a fantastic benefit afforded to Gold and Platinum Velocity Frequent Flyer members. Eligible flyers and up to 3 guests on the same booking can change to an earlier Virgin Australia flight on the same day at no cost.
Who can use Fly Ahead?
Fly Ahead is available to Gold and Platinum Velocity members travelling on Virgin Australia domestic flights.
Fly Ahead used to be available when booked on any fare type, but this was changed in late 2016. This benefit is now available to Gold and Platinum members with any Economy Elevate, Economy Freedom, Business class or Reward Seat booking. However, group bookings and the cheapest Economy “Getaway” fares are excluded. Fly Ahead is only available if there are vacant seats available in the class of travel booked on an earlier flight.
How to Fly Ahead
If you arrive at the airport early and wish to take an earlier flight, you can request Fly Ahead either at check-in or in the lounge. You’ll need to change flights at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time of the earlier service. If you request to Fly Ahead in the lounge, you cannot have any checked baggage.
When flying ahead, catering is not guaranteed and you’ll only have access to seats that are not yet occupied. If the earlier flight is almost full, this could mean you end up with a middle seat at the back of the plane. But thanks to Economy X seating, this may no longer be a problem for Platinum members. These up-front seats with extra legroom are reserved for Platinum members and are typically the last to be filled.
Phone Ahead to Fly Ahead
There’s an additional benefit for Platinum Velocity members. Platinum frequent flyers can now confirm an earlier flight before arriving at the airport. This is done by calling Virgin Australia’s Guest Contact Centre at least an hour before the earlier flight departs. It’s possible to change to the flight immediately prior to the one booked over the phone. An exception applies to flights on the “golden triangle” between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. For golden triangle flights, you can change to any flight up to two hours earlier than booked.
Virgin’s Fly Ahead is a Key Benefit over Qantas
Fly Ahead is a key benefit of Velocity Frequent Flyer status. It’s a useful perk for Gold and Platinum members as it’s available not only on flexible Freedom fares, but also on mid-tier Elevate and award bookings.
By comparison, Qantas charges a fee for all flight changes unless an expensive flexible fare is booked. Even on flexible fares, Qantas still charges the fare difference if no seats are available in the original booking fare class at the time of making the change. Qantas’ lack of flexibility is a common source of frustration for frequent flyers whose employers mandate a “best fare of the day” policy. It even led to a situation two weeks ago where Qantas revoked the boarding pass of a Platinum member that tried to change to an earlier flight after a medical emergency. Qantas’ policy appears to be aimed at encouraging passengers to pay for more expensive flexible airfares. But when Virgin has a much more customer-friendly policy, Qantas’ inflexible policy risks alienating loyal customers.