Unlike at Qantas, Virgin Australia normally gets priority boarding right. Virgin Australia staff are pretty good at ensuring the priority boarding queue is only used by passengers entitled to do so. And the gate agents will make sure that everyone in the priority boarding queue has been processed, before they start boarding from the general queue.
But it seems there is one aspect of priority boarding that Virgin Australia is not doing so well at. In May 2017, Virgin introduced “Economy X”. This new product came with extra-legroom seating, as well as other advertised benefits including priority boarding.
There are quite a few passengers that are entitled to Virgin Australia priority boarding. Velocity Gold and Platinum members, as well as Business Class passengers, can jump the queues by using the dedicated priority lane. The benefit is also extended to passengers that don’t have Velocity status but have paid extra for an Economy X seat. (Platinum Velocity members can select an Economy X seat at no charge.)
However, AFF members report that they are continuously told they’re not entitled to priority boarding, even though they’ve purchased an Economy X seat.
I’ve been using Virgin’s economy X product this year to travel between Brisbane and Perth, and one of the advertised benefits is priority boarding.
What I have found all year, and am continuing to notice is that every single time I am using priority lane, the initial reaction is sir you should wait for the general boarding call, and each time I have to explain slowly, economy X. Doesn’t matter if it is row three, or the exit rows, there doesn’t seem to be the knowledge of what rows are economy x and the entitlement to priority boarding.
Another member writes…
I used to notice it on the couple of times I’d paid for it in the past. You’d think they have their act together by now. I’ve seen passengers sent from priority queue to general economy queue at LAX too. It’s ridiculous that this has been a VA product for ages they’d get their act together on it by now. Shouldn’t matter whether they are VA staff or not. It’s a staff training issue or documentation issue on the boarding pass. I felt a bit embarrassed when staff member was quite stern about trying to decline me priority boarding. She gave the impression that she disagreed with me but shrugged her shoulders and let me go ahead as if it was easier to let me go that fight about it.
The problem seems to be that the words “Economy X” or “priority” don’t appear on passengers’ boarding passes. This, combined with a lack of staff training, mean that some Economy X passengers are being incorrectly sent to the back of the general boarding queue.
According to our members, this appears to be more of a problem at ports where Virgin uses ground staff employed by third-party contractors, such as in Perth and Los Angeles.
Have you experienced problems with Virgin Australia priority boarding? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Economy X Priority Boarding