Virgin Australia hikes fees on reward bookings

Well, it looks like Virgin Australia is coming to the “overcharge your customers” party!

It’s a practice that Qantas has adopted for years – the practice of charging your customers a “carrier charge”.

That is, a fee for… carrying you on their flight.


“To cover ongoing associated costs of Velocity Reward Seats, a carrier charge will be introduced for bookings made on or after 1 January 2019,” Virgin announced to its Velocity Rewards members in an email last week.

All the usual guff about the fee being “in line with industry practice” and “very competitive” was there.

But essentially, here’s the deal. Carrier charges are a discretionary charge, decided upon by an individual airline. Qantas has been charging them for years. And now Virgin is charging them too.

They didn’t outline exactly how much they were going to slug customers for this extra money grab in their announcement, but fortunately, Australian Business Traveller did some digging.

They outlined the new costs will be roughly as follows:

Journeys between Australia and Los Angeles: $230 one-way carrier charge for business class reward flights operated by both Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines; $145 Premium economy one-way carrier charge; and $60 economy class one-way carrier charge on reward bookings.

So, a family of four travelling to the United States on rewards bookings could expect to pay an additional $480.

Locally, fortunately, the additional fee is much more affordable. Domestic flights within Australia and trans-Tasman journeys between Australia and New Zealand will attract carrier charges of $5.50 per one-way flight in business class and $3.50 per one-way flight in economy class.

So, a family of four could expect to pay around $28 in extra fees on a return booking within Australia.

Other routes attract varying fees, as outlined by ABT.

But what’s the bottom line? It’s this: these fees come into effect January 1, 2019, so if you want to avoid paying them on a trip planned for next year, get booking now!