Following the end of the price war between Qantas and Virgin, combined with the recent removal of Virgin’s cheapest Saver Lite fares, our members have noticed that Virgin Australia’s so-called Happy Hour specials have not been looking too happy lately. The Thursday afternoon specials once offered some great deals on flights to a selection of destinations but Virgin’s most recent sales have left our members feeling a little underwhelmed.

Nothing much to capture the imagination in the not-so-happy hours recently. The well continues to dry up now the battle tanks have left the front line. The sad reality is (despite aviation fuel dropping in price) – unlikely to get better. Better resume training for that ultra-marathon after all.

Airfares in Australia have been on the incline across the board in recent months. Since the end of the “capacity war” between Australia’s domestic airlines last year, there has been a slight reduction in capacity in the Australian market, resulting in an increase in airfares.

But it would seem that Virgin’s average airfares are increasing at a higher rate than any other Australian airline. This may have something to do with the airline’s shareholders, such as partner Air New Zealand, declaring recently that it was time Virgin made a profit. Since this declaration, shortly after the airline’s half-year results were released, there have been a raft of changes designed to boost Virgin’s bottom line. The Saver Lite fares were removed, base airfare prices have increased across the board, and sales have been considerably less impressive than some of the deals Virgin had offered in the past.

VA is 110% on the profit kool aid so no surprise specials have been dialed back.

One member has noticed that some recent Happy Hour specials have only been available for flights in one direction. After finding what they thought was a good deal on flights between Melbourne and Sydney, they discovered that the cheap fares were only for a selection of flights departing Melbourne, and not Sydney.

I was looking at SYD-MEL and thought I saw it for $85 so I tried booking and all fares were $129, both there and back no matter when. I tried again and noticed that it was only MEL-SYD for that price so I booked my return leg and left SYD-MEL for next time. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t showing the returns as $85 when I first tried to book. They were really one way fares.

With Virgin repositioning itself as a full-service airline and signalling it hopes to make a profit in the near future, many members fear the Happy Hours, and other sales will no longer be what they used to be. While there is still a good deal every now and again, they seem to be few and far between. Last Thursday was the first Happy Hour sale since the removal of the Saver Lite fares and our members were not impressed with the deals on offer. At least one member commented that they were removing their subscription as the deals were no longer worthwhile. Other members question whether Virgin should even bother with these sales any more if the deals are going to be so disappointing.

One of the lamest Happy Hours I have seen.

Literally a waste of time. $159 MEL-CBR

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]