Fantastic news! Today I received an email from Virgin Australia announcing a new initiative which may make travel achievable for people who are unable to fly independently. From today, Virgin Australia is implementing a Disability Assistant Concession fare. The fare offers a 50% discount (applied to the base fare) for an assistant’s airfare. The fare has been made available in recognition of the many travellers using the airline who require special assistance when travelling.
The fare is designed to facilitate the travel of guests who are required by Virgin Australia to travel with an assistant under the airline’s Independent Travel Criteria. Flight crews are obviously there to keep us comfortable and safe but there is a limit to the services they can provide, therefore the airline recognises the need for some travellers to fly with the assistance of a family member or support worker. Tasks like administering medication, assisting with bathroom visits and in the case of an emergency being able to apply an oxygen mask are not the responsibility of a flight crew.
Before getting the credit card out ready to book your flight to your dream destination, you need to know there is eligibility criteria. Virgin Australia Guest Contact Centre agents will use the Independent Travel Criteria to assess if a guest is required to travel with an assistant. You can read the Independent Travel Criteria here.
The Disability Assistant Concession fare is a 50% discount which is applied to the base fare of all fare types including business class. Taxes, fees and GST cannot be discounted. The Guest Contact Centre will process the discount for you. This discount will be applied to all forms of payment in the Virgin Australia system including Velocity Points used to pay for Any Seats (you can read about Any Seats here.)
The discount applies to all Virgin Australia domestic travel.
MORE GOOD NEWS
If you are thinking, “Bummer, I’ve already booked my flights and missed the discount!”, don’t worry, Virgin Australia says, “The Disability Assistant Concession fare will be applied retrospectively for guests travelling after 6 April who require an assistant under the Independent Travel Criteria and held firm bookings made before 5 April 2018.”
We know many of you love flying with Virgin Australia and I think this is another sign the airline is focused on improving the travel experience of all their guests.
Virgin Australia has extensive information on their website about the accessible services they offer. You can check that here.
You can read our tips on booking a holiday including air travel, Special Assistance at the airport, the Eagle Passenger Lifter and more here.
If you’ve checked the eligibility criteria and are ready to book, contact the Virgin Australia Guest Contact Centre here
or phone 1300 139 303.
As a family who loves to travel, with significant costs associated with doing so, we welcome this assistance.
Lorraine Sinclair says
It’s not clear but does this include international flights?
Hi Lorraine, No it doesn’t include international flights. I don’t know of any airline offering discounts on those……..yet!
It is disappointing to hear as it is more so the long distant (international flights) that our family member requires more assistance and it limits the destination due to the cost of the flights as they are needing a Carer.
Do you think they will make this easy so I can book myself and my companion online instead of calling?
Hi Alison, this information was only released yesterday so we’ve not had personal experience with it but my understanding is you must phone to book. I gather by the comment on Facebook by one of our readers who phoned last night, the process is very easy and she said the staff were fantastic. I believe the system has been designed to be easy for the user. Hope that helps.
Alison, we regularly use a companion card for a variety of events, we have not been able to book via internet, always have to phone regardless of the business. I guess Virgin work along the same guidelines, but it would make life easier if it could be done online!
Darryl Sellwood says
Hi, Could you please provide a link to this good news? I have tried searching for more information on it without success. Also, the discount is the based fare, so, does the excludes already discounted fares?
Hi Darryl, I received an email from Virgin so I don’t have a link I’m sorry. The information contained in the email is what I’ve provided with some additional links and bits. This is brand new and as I’ve not used it I would suggest contacting them direct for any questions. I’d prefer people get the correct information.
Robyn Moody says
My husband myself and our 2 sons are travelling to the gold coast sunday 8th april and returning 16th. We are flying with virgin australia, our sons are in wheelchairs. How do apply for this discount on the flights already booked, is there a promo code i need? I have rung the customer contact centre of virgin australia abd they do not seem to know anything about it. I have clicked on the accessibilty of the vurgin website and it only takes me to the accessibilty of using vurgin australia website nothing about the discount or accessibility of travel needs
Regards Robyn Moody
Hi Robyn, One of our readers phoned last night and said staff were really fantastic and helpful. She rang 1300 138 30. I hope that helps.
Does virgin have an eagle lifter
Shelley, yes they do. It’s always best to check with the airline with booking and to check the Eagle Passenger Lifter website for locations where it is available. Here’s the link to the search tool – http://www.haycomp.com.au/ and video of one of our readers using it with Virgin staff here – https://havewchairmove.wpengine.com/turning-the-voyeur-into-the-traveller/
Mary Ambrosini says
Does it take electric wheelchairs or just manual wheelchairs? Does Virgin have an eagle lift?
Hi Mary, Yes they do but I suggest contacting the airline directly and providing the chair’s dimensions and weight to ensure it can be accommodated. Virgin do use the Eagle Passenger Lifter, again it’s always best to check with the airline when booking and to check the Eagle Passenger Lifter website for locations where it is available. Here’s the link to the search tool – http://www.haycomp.com.au/ and video of one of our readers using it with Virgin staff here – https://havewchairmove.wpengine.com/turning-the-voyeur-into-the-traveller/ I hope that helps.
Brilliant customer relations and show of recognition and respect for disabled travellers, please ask Virgin Australia to export their policy to the U. S.A—no tariffs added, please!
Debbie, I was surprised to hear there is nothing in the US to be honest. I shall pass it on, also without tariff added!
JD Mitchell says
Any indication if your sister airline Virgin Atlantic plans a similar special service…it would be nice if travel services and companies would include the disable comunnity more instead of the bottom line $$$ just curious … thanks jd mitchell
Hi JD, I’ll pass your comment back to Virgin Australia. It would be lovely if this was a worldwide initiative.
Dr Geoff Thompson, CMO Australian Paralympic Committee says
Congratulations virgi for beginning to address this issue in a practical and real way. My work involves working closely with athletes with significant disability who have faced difficult travel issues for a long time. I would be happy to discuss this with relevant policy makers at Virgin
Hi Geoff, I shall pass this on to Virgin. I would also welcome the opportunity to chat with you further. The more information I have to pass on to the tourism industry when I chat with them the better. Please feel free to email me [email protected] and perhaps we can organize a time.
Hi Virgin Australia don’t seem to know about this
Hi Lea, There may be teething problems but this information has come directly from Virgin Australia. Are you calling the department mentioned in the blog?
Well good to hear and also a big change on Virgin’s previous treatment of people needing wheel chair assistance. I would once only fly Virgin but our one and only experience with a wheelchair was so horrendous I’ve never flown with Virgin again. I’m not talking price I’m talking service.
fred jobson says
we have travelled many times with Virgin. With my wife being disabled and with limited mobility we have always been gratified by the attitude of he staff and are virgin credit card frequent flyers and velocity members as a result of our flight experiences.
. —- Until this year two and a half hours, about 5 transfers and the flight cancelled and redone twice — what a night mare the staff in the Philippines had simply no idea what to do. then I went to virgin austral[a and talked to a wonderful lady called IZZY fixed all the problems cancelled the booking and remade it to save us lots of velocity points . a cheaper cost, and organised the disability assistance concession fare. completely renewed my faith in Virgin and the way they show compassion and care for the disabled.. We not going to cancel my virgin credit card and will continue to fly virgin thanks Izzy and virgin.
Susie Twydell says
This really is fantastic news and hopefully the future for travelling companions of passengers with disabilities. I have added it to the Australia and the Air Travel pages of Wheelchair World so that other wheelchair using travellers can share this good news 🙂
Contacted Virgin Australia. They know nothing about this. Have printed the information out and am going to the travel agent to speak with them.
Hi Debbie, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had difficulty with accessing the discount. The regular reservations number won’t be able to help. Are you contacting the guest services as mentioned in the blog?
When will it apply to a international flights why only domestic? Limiting & making it hard still!
I know many are disappointed it doesn’t apply to International but it’s fantastic to have this now available on domestic as a starting point.
Totally agree Geraldine.
Paula Kelly says
I have looked through you eligibility requirements and it does not seem to cover someone with a Mental Illness who has panic attacks and would not be able to be supported by staff if it occurred during a flight.
I just tried to book a flight and was told the discount doesn’t apply for carers of children under 12 years old which is disappointing.
I’ve just booked my flight for myself (carer) and my 6yo daughter who has cerebral palsy. When i first contacted the customer centre they didn’t know about this deal. However I simply told them that i had read about the concession for travelling with a carer on their website. Was finally put through the specialised unit that manage these bookings and they were amazing. All done over the phone. They also price match other Australian websites but I was so impressed I forgot to mention it when she quoted the prices.
She also gave us their direct number so that you don’t need to explain again to the main contact centre : 1300 139 303. They are based in Brisbane and see open 5am – 11pm Brisbane time.
Thanks for the comprehensive information on your blog. If it wasn’t for this I probably would have given up after the first lady on the phone.
Sonia Marcon says
Hi there. This idea is fantastic but I do have a few questions. Does this cover someone who has a mobility aid but is not a wheelchair? I use a mobility aid because of muscle wastage in my right leg and I am not able to easily do thing like eat in confined spaces because of muscle wastage in my right arm. I also have balance and sight issues because of my disability. I cannot travel with out a companion. Does this card cover this or is it only for people in wheelchairs?
I suggest calling them direct to clarify Sonia. My understanding is this is for anyone who needs assistance. Someone who cannot travel without the assistance of another person.
Seems like a lot of teething problems. I called to book using my points which their policy says – however the system can do it automatically and the staff member now has to send to another area for them to manually calculate the points required and get back to me. Yes be very careful which number you call – I rang the Frequent flyer one first (as I am and was using points) and they had no idea, the manager had no idea and then came back to me saying “Oh yes we use to have it and now we don’t offer it anymore”. I found this blog and got the new number where the lady was really helpful and they are in Australia. However I recommend still having the PDF of Virgins “Guest Accesibility Plan” as they first up tried to tell me you can not use points – I guided her to the internet to find the correct PDF and page and hence why it is being escalated.
Virgin did warn me that there would be teething problems as it is a matter of training staff on something which is completely new.
Geoff McIver says
As a matter of interest. If you fly Qantas you have to purchase a Qantas Carer Concession Card but then the holder and the carer both get discounts. Does this apply with Virgin?
Yes, you’re right about the Qantas deal. With Virgin you don’t need a card but the discount is only for the companion airfare. Hope that helps.
I have tried to find the criteria link that you show but it comes up page not found. We are flying Virgin later in the year & I would like to know if we are eligibe. Can’t find anything else on the Virgin site about this either.
I’ve emailed Virgin as this link was working and was provided by Virgin when the fare was launched. I’ll get back to you as soon as I get a reply.
Hi Lorraine, Virgin have got back to me. Here’s the new link https://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/plan/specific-needs-assistance/independent-travel-criteria/ I hope that helps. Julie
Geoff McIver says
Is there a link anywhere that takes us to the information about the actual discounts for the carer?
No there isn’t Geoff. You can contact the airline but be aware of the fares around before doing so. I’ve put all appropriate and available links into the post.
Great news! Thanks for sharing. I will be travelling with Virgin from now on. No discounts with Jetstar and they make me pay for seat allocations so my special needs son and I can sit together. He requires full assistance and couldn’t sit alone or next to a stranger. I have complained but they don’t care.
Hi Janene, We’ve had good experiences with JetStar and never had to pay to be seated together but the Virgin discount is a fabulous way of saving some money. Julie
Julie Anne Halvorsen says
My husband & I travel often in his role of Chairman of ParaQuad NSW. We were only just made aware of the discount a few weeks back despite having flown several times since this wonderful offer has become available. Despite missing a couple of discounts we absolutely love Virgin and the way they always treat us with respect, kindness and support.
On behalf of so many like us thankyou Virgin for this initiative … we often seem to pay more for accommodation etc., so thus gesture is brilliant!
Hi Julie, Thanks for your message. This initiative will assist so many people to travel. I was driving past ParaQuad just the other day and thought I should pop in for a meeting to share more about travel and the many things available to make it easier.Thanks for the reminder to do so soon.
Does the 50% discount apply to both the carer and the person being cared for?
I’m sure its for your carer only as they’re the ones you need to fly with you
I’ve only been caring for my disabled brother for a few years so I’m new to this. Does the disabled person stay in their wheelchair during the flight or are they transferred to a normal seat?? And how do you go about taking them to the toilet if they don’t have a catheter? I need help please…
Hi Rosemarie, A person needs to transfer to the airline seat. There are things which can make this easier. I’ll link to a blog on this and one about using the toilet during the flight – Toilet on plane – https://havewchairmove.wpengine.com/when-youve-gotta-go-on-the-go/ and tips on the flight and transfers – https://havewchairmove.wpengine.com/turning-the-voyeur-into-the-traveller/ I hope you have some lovely travels with your brother. Julie
This is great news ,i travel with a carer and when i go away i pay for 2 as i need to have someone with me, thank you virgin i will now be changing airlines so i can fly with you
I’m glad it’s helpful for you Deb.
Denise Mesalic says
Does this discount still apply, 50% for carers, I rang today and was told no.
I’m not sure under the current Virgin circumstances if they are still extending the discount. Even in the past people received conflicting information. I suggest contacting the airline’s special handling department.
Sarah Madany says
Great news! Thanks for sharing. I will be traveling with Virgin from now. Others are not facilitating perfectly to the customers!