How Virgin's New Baggage Rules Will Affect You

Virgin Australia is shifting from a total weight policy to a per-bag charge for checked baggage. Whether that's good or bad news depends on how you currently use the system. Here's how the (complicated) new rules work.

Picture by Simon Sees

Right now, the following baggage allowances apply on Virgin Australia (in addition to the 7kg of hand luggage everyone gets). In practical terms, you get no checked baggage allowance on the very cheapest tickets, 23kg if you pay for a more flexible ticket, and additional allocations if you're a highly-ranked frequent flyer. Regardless, you can spread that allowance over multiple bags.

As is usually the case, booking extra baggage online is cheaper. Buying baggage allowance costs between $12 or $15 online, or $40 at the airport. If you exceed the allowed weight, you'll pay $15 per kilogram. (You can compare these rates to Virgin's rivals in our roundup of domestic airline baggage fees.)

From May 16 2012, the situation changes. The allowance will be calculated based on the number of pieces rather than the total weight.

If you want to purchase additional checked items, you'll pay on a per-item basis, rather than the current approach of paying by weight. On Tier 1 flights, a single extra bag costs $12, two costs $32, and three costs $52. On Tier 2 flights, those prices rise to $15, $45 and $75.

The tricky bit is that you can only purchase a maximum of three items online, and that includes any allowance that comes with your fare. So if you're a Platinum member entitled to two pieces of baggage, you can only purchase one more bag online.

You can also purchase additional allowance for up to six more bags at the airport, but at much higher rates: $40 for the first item, $100 for two, $160 for three, and a truly obscene $120 each for each item after that. Any bags which exceed the weight limits (23kg if you're not a frequent flyer) cost $40 each. While Virgin says this is cheaper than its previous per-kilo approach, that very much depends on how far over the limit you went.

On the whole, the rules are less generous, especially to frequent flyers and business travellers (an area where Qantas and Virgin continue to battle it out). For instance, as a Platinum member, I was previously entitled to 69kg, which I could spread over three bags of 23kg each, or even four bags of 15kg. I'm now only entitled to two bags of up to 32kg each. In practice, I'm unlikely to want to travel with that much baggage anywhere, but I might well want to take some separate bags or individual items. That will now cost me more.

Not checking luggage remains the best way to avoid extra charges, but requires careful planning. If you do need to check baggage, check our guide to maximising savings. What's your take on the new Virgin approach?

Virgin Australia


Comments

    32kg for a single bag is very heavy.

      32kg is the upper limit for any bag for OH&S reasons (similar rules apply at Qantas).

      Get 3 bags and tie them together with rope. Simple

    me, my wife and my 1 year old are flying to sydney in nov - looks like virgin is off the list by the time i add the pram and extra items reqired for an infact - which qantas carry free

      Virgin do not charge for those items either.

    This also is really poor for those flying with sporting equipment, e.g. when i fly with my bicycle and stowed luggage. I'm assuming this will be similar to when qantas introduced a similar policy last year in that if you had two bags totalling less than 23kgs it would be cheaper to buy a bike box (approx$15) from them and place both bags in to the one oversized box. I'm sure they'd change their policy (or up the price of the boxes) if everyone started to do this.

    Providing they start checking the size and weight of what people call "carry on" I don't care. I pay for checking in my bags and see people bringing bigger and heavier stuff on board then complaining when it doesn't fit in the overhead locakers. Play fair,

    I don't fly Virgin, but this sort of policy is just going to lead to abuses of the hand-luggage allowance. I always fly with just a modest backpack but at boarding time I try to get near the head of the queue otherwise the overhead lockers get filled by people who have a small suitcase (a lot of which are obviously bigger than the sizing rack), a laptop bag, a giant serve of Krispy-Kremes, pillows and a coat.

      Yeah this drives me absolutely insane. People take FOREVER to put their rubbish in the overhead bins and then take another two hours to take it down. There should be a mandatory packing class everyone has to take before they board a plane. It's not that hard people! Why do you have to make it so!?!

    won't be flying virgin to a conference we exhibit at by the time we add banners and stock (which we have always done previously) cost will be one more thing, even as Platinum members.

    If your carrying items for work (Printing, pull-ups, spare parts, hard drives/servers, etc the extra 23kgs for $20 or $30 is pretty good value.
    Works out to be $0.86 - $1.30/Kg for 'same day' / Overnight freight (all be it airport-airport). It's a bargain.

      Taking servers with you on the plane? A full server isn't exactly carry on, and I wouldn't trust the baggage handlers with $15k of hardware

    Isnt this what Qantas did last year?
    Have they kept the sporting goods allowance? I cant see it anywhere at the moment... (Where allowed an additional 15Kg for sporting goods (Golf clubs etc))

    I've booked flights for June 2012 and have already paid for baggage (23kgs) - does this affect me or does simply the fact I have already booked mean I don;t have to worry.

    Sorry, just checked Virgin policy. All bookings prior 16 May are still weight based. I hope the check in people know this...

    At my age even the thought of flying is tiring - think I'll take the train - the stress of cross-calculating all those options would be too stressful on top of flying in something heavier than air.....

    Hi, we got caught out on this change. We flew with 3 kids and 2 adults but only booked luggage for 2 kids and 2 adults. We turned up with 5 bags all under the weight for 4 paying people and the check in attendant was straight on to us. She would not budge on us paying $40 to check the additional bag in despite us being under the weight. It was obvious she was scripted on the issue and would not budge on it or accept it was a change we had not realized - which it was. This is a really disappointing experience and I have looked on the virgin website and could see no where easily to post our experience. Funnily we should have just taken the bag on the plane. Its funny that the attendnat was so prepared and you thinkVirgin is trying to be this fantastic customer focused airline. Overall I can accept the change but the way this has been handled is a let down. I'm sure virgin are stoked cos they got my 40$. But I'm not so sure of this airline now.

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