Locating premium cabin award space is challenging any day of the week, but when it appears, leads you through to the final payment page for taxes and then tells you the space is unavailable? Frustrating. But then, when it reappears in your next search again only to fail again at the payment page again? Infuriating. That’s what I’m going through with Virgin Australia’s Velocity reward redemptions right now.
I’m in the process of planning a trip for New Years 2017/18 which lands me in Los Angeles for a couple of days in the new year before I need to head home. I’ve been salivating over Virgin Australia’s ‘The Business’ for a long time and have been excited at the thought of jumping on board to compare it to the Qantas Business Suites.
I’ve been looking at availability for the first week of January and there has been a distinct lack of Virgin Australia premium economy and business availability. There are a few Singapore Airlines seats floating around and of course full availability with the ‘Any Seat’ awards.
I’ve been checking flights from Los Angeles to Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne as I can easily travel home from any of those ports. Imagine my surprise this afternoon when nothing showed up on the flight to Brisbane but a flight to Melbourne via Brisbane did.
I headed back to the Brisbane route and sure enough, there was a seat available.
I checked out a few other dates to see what else was available and there was nothing, so I went back to the January 4 tab and the seat was gone – note the time of 6.04pm
Then I clicked to January 5 and back to January 4 where a minute later the seat appeared!
Great! This is all coming together, I thought, as I was led through the entire booking process.
I got to the last booking page, entered credit card details for the taxes & fees, clicked through to the confirmation page and got the dreaded ‘This fare is not available” notification.
The seats showed up intermittently over the next 20 minutes. I tried to book the seat another 2 times, attempting to pay the taxes with a debit card rather than credit and also a full point redemption – no ball.
Not giving up, I then I called the Virgin Australia Flight Redemptions line
I explained my situation to the agent and she confirmed that she could not see availability for a week prior and after the January 4 date I was looking at. She said that it was likely someone had booked the flight while I was in the process of completing the sale. I know this isn’t the case because as I’ve shown above, the flight appears again!
Why is this happening?
I wish I knew. The Velocity website has undergone a tiny facelift recently so it could just be tech related or plain old phantom availability.
But it also got me thinking. I’m only a Velocity Red member at the moment. Is Virgin Australia looking to change award availability based on your status? These flights are obviously loaded into the system somewhere because I can get through to the last step of entering credit card details before I’m kicked off. I really don’t know.
This is an incredibly frustrating situation. I’ll be keeping an eye on availability to see if anything changes or if the fares become bookable.
If you do find a bookable fare, reach out and let me know (and please, I beg of you, leave me at least one available reward seat!!)
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