Virgin Australia has converted the “conditional credits” held by customers with cancelled bookings to “Future Flight” credits, which can be redeemed from today.
Affected customers are being contacted by Virgin Australia progressively over the coming days by email, with details of their new Future Flight credits. This includes customers that had previously received credits for cancelled Virgin Australia flights, Tigerair flights and Virgin Australia Holiday bookings.
Virgin Australia Future Flight credits are valid for bookings made until 31 July 2022, for travel until 30 June 2023.
While announcing the release of its latest iteration of travel credits on Twitter, Virgin Australia made a nod to the criticism it has received over recent weeks for serving two-minute noodles in Business class. (The good news is that Virgin has now finally replenished some of its catering supplies including beverages and is introducing snack boxes for Business passengers.)
There’s also a detailed update on the Virgin Australia website.
What can Virgin Australia Future Flight Credits be used for?
Unfortunately, there are some limitations on what Virgin’s Future Flight Credits can be used to pay for.
You can use your credit to pay for Virgin Australia flights – but only if there is availability in the specific fare class designated for Future Flight credit bookings.
For Economy class tickets, Getaway, Elevate and Freedom fares are all available to be booked using a Future Flight credit. However, you’ll only be able to use your credit for an Economy class ticket if there is availability in “U” class on your chosen flight. Virgin is only making a certain number of “U” class fares available on each flight, so these could sell out.
For Business class tickets, Future Flight credits can only be used to book “I” class fares. That’s the Business Saver fare category, which is also the first to sell out.
Right now, as many travel restrictions remain in place, many Virgin Australia flights have wide-open availability in most fare classes. But this restriction could make Future Flight credits difficult to use in the future.
Future Flight credits cannot be used to pay for flights on Virgin Australia partner airlines. This includes Virgin Australia codeshare flights operated by Alliance Airlines.
You can use a credit to pay for ancillaries like Economy X upgrades, change fees, excess baggage, carbon offset fees, lounge passes and Unaccompanied Minor bookings. But these cannot be used to pay for UpgradeMe Premium Bid upgrades.
How to redeem Future Flight Credits
The Virgin Australia Future Flight credits can be redeemed online or through the Virgin Australia Guest Contact Centre.
For example, if booking a new flight on the Virgin Australia website, select “I would like to use Travel Bank to pay for some or all of this booking” when searching:
No refunds for Future Flight credit holders
If you booked your original trip before 20 April 2020, when Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration, the airline says you’ll be unable to get a refund. This also applies if you use your credit to book a flight but later cancel that flight.
“Because Virgin Australia has been in voluntary administration, we are unable to provide a refund or Standard credit for cancelled flights or other services where the booking was made on or before 20 April 2020,” Virgin Australia’s website says.
Flights booked using Future Flight credits are subject to different fare rules than regular Virgin airfares. While it is permitted to cancel some types of normal Virgin Australia tickets for a refund, it will only be permitted to cancel Future Credit fares for another Future Flight credit.
You can pay for new Virgin Australia bookings using a combination of a credit and money. But if you cancel your booking, the entire value of the new booking will be converted to a new credit and is not refundable.
This does seem quite unfair to Virgin Australia customers that had booked expensive long-haul Business class tickets, but never received refunds after Virgin cancelled their flights. They’re now left with credits worth thousands of dollars and can only redeem them for limited domestic flights, with strings attached.
Virgin is now using voluntary administration as an excuse not to refund customers that would otherwise have been legally entitled to a refund. Yet Virgin’s policy had already been not to refund flights cancelled by the airline well before it entered administration. By comparison, Qantas has refunded most passengers whose flights were cancelled by the airline – even though it has taken a long time in some cases.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Future Flight Credits