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Virgin Atlantic - excess baggage warning

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North_Wind
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Virgin Atlantic - excess baggage warning

Postby North_Wind » Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:16 pm

Just a short warning to others thinking of travelling with Virgin and taking a kitebag.

In August this year I travelled with a friend from London Heathrow to Nairobi in Kenya to kite at Nyali beach. Nowhere on the (paper) ticket or in the accompanying flight details (warnings about getting to the airport on time, vaccinations etc.) did it mention the luggage allowance. As I have previously had my kite bag taken by British Airways for free under their sports bag policy I thought Virgin would be the same (or might charge £15 each way like Ryanair).

Oh no. Turned out you were allowed ONE bag on the flight to Kenya to a max of 23kgs. I took two bags - a medium sized sports bag and a medium sized board bag. Weight-wise I was c. 19kgs over. To carry the kite bags Virgin took £460 ($930) off me in excess baggage one way and £121 ($245) off my friend. The supervisor at terminal 4 even mocked us as he did it.

I have had a huge row with them since I got back and they refunded 80% of the combined charges + loss (my friend threw away a bag) but not the remaining amount we are out of pocket. As our economy tickets were c. £875 ($1750) each return in the first place I think this is a total rip off and stands in stark contrast to BA's policy of allowing always and everywhere (on top of your luggage allowance) one kitebag up to 32kgs, for free.

I have traded emails and phone calls with Virgin's senior management in the UK and they are quite unapologetic about the whole thing. The service representative I also corresponded with referred to their policy as a "service differentiator" with BA. I could not agree more.

North Wind
Last edited by North_Wind on Sat Sep 22, 2007 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kitezilla
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Postby kitezilla » Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:54 pm

Isn't the owner of this airline a Kiteboarder?

Any chance of a Bro-deal?

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Postby Toby » Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:56 pm

yes, he is! We should tell him, I'm sure he would change something!

Here the official Virgin info about baggage:

Checked-in Baggage Allowance by Piece

The baggage allowances described below apply for the following routes

* Transatlantic
* Caribbean
* Nigeria

Upper Class Baggage Allowance by Piece

Three pieces of luggage per passenger, each weighing up to 32kg (70lbs). When added together, the three dimensions of any piece of luggage must not exceed 158cm (62in).

Premium Economy Baggage Allowance by Piece

Two pieces of luggage per passenger, each weighing up to 32kg (70lbs). When added together, the three dimensions of any piece of luggage must not exceed 158cm (62in).

Economy Baggage Allowance by Piece

Two pieces of luggage per passenger, each weighing up to 23kg (50lbs). When added together, the three dimensions of any piece of luggage must not exceed 158cm (62in).

Sporting Equipment

Golfers can check in one golf bag (which includes a maximum of 14 clubs, a dozen balls and a pair of shoes) as a single item of Checked In baggage. Alternatively, if you wish to check in a golf bag in addition to your normal baggage allowance you will only be charged 50% of the normal excess fee.

Other sporting equipment such as skis (with one pair of poles and one pair of boots), rucksacks, sleeping bags, and bicycles will be considered as one piece of luggage. Excess charges will apply.

Checked-in Baggage Allowance by Weight

The baggage allowances described below apply for the following routes

* South Africa
* Australia
* Asia
* Dubai
* Kenya

Upper Class Baggage Allowance by Weight

A total maximum luggage weight of 30kg per passenger.

Special Offer: If you purchased your ticket in Africa 40 kilograms will be permitted between Nairobi and London only. Please note this does not apply for sales made in any other region for the same route.

Premium Economy & Economy Baggage Allowance by Weight

A total maximum luggage weight of 23kg per passenger.

Special Offer: For sales made in Africa the maxium weight of luggage is 30kg for travel between Nairobi and London only. Please note this does not apply for sales made in other regions for travel on the same route.

Sporting Equipment

Virgin Atlantic allows an extra 10kg allowance for golfers who wish to check in one golf bag (which includes a maximum of 14 clubs, a dozen balls and a pair of shoes).

Other sporting equipment such as skis (with one pair of poles and one pair of boots), rucksacks, sleeping bags, and bicycles will be considered as one piece of luggage. Excess charges will apply.

We have special rates for carrying sports equipment.

BAA Baggage Restrictions to and from the UK

* All passengers travelling to and from the UK are not permitted to check in any bag that weighs in excess of 32kgs (70lbs). The maximum weight limit of 32kgs relates to single items of luggage and should not be seen as your baggage allowance. This new safety measure, which applies to all airlines and all destinations to/from the UK, is being introduced to reduce strains and injuries amongst baggage handling staff.
* Passengers who exceed this maximum weight limit will be asked to repack their luggage into smaller units before they can check in. Excess baggage charges will be applied where applicable.

Excess Baggage Charges

Virgin Atlantic permits each passenger a free baggage allowance. Depending on your final destination, an excess baggage fee will apply for any additional baggage you wish to check in over your free allowance.

For passengers exceeding their baggage allowance, please allow extra time at the airport to pay the excess. Our check in facilities will close 60 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the flight. Passengers who fail to complete check in procedures by this time will not be able to travel.

Virgin Atlantic operates two types of baggage allowance. Flights to/from the USA, Caribbean, Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica and Nigeria are based on the number of pieces carried. Flights to/from South Africa, India, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai and Australia are based on the weight of baggage being checked in.

In accordance with the Heath and Safety Executive, passengers will only be able to check in excess baggage weighing 32kg (70lbs) or less per piece. The new safety measure, which will apply to all airlines and destinations from the UK, is being introduced to reduce strains and injuries amongst baggage handling staff. Passengers who exceed the weight limit will be asked to repack their excess baggage into smaller units and pay the appropriate charges* before they can check in.

Bookings made since the 1st April 2006 are subject to new free baggage allowances. Economy passengers travelling on flights to/from the USA, Caribbean, Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica and Nigeria wishing to check in baggage weighing between 23kg and 32kg are subject to an excess charge of GBP20 / USD35 per piece for each flight taken. Additional pieces over your free allowance are charged at the normal rates listed below.

The following charges apply to the specified routes for each extra piece of baggage you wish to check in over your free allowance:

Between Boston/New York/Washington DC and UK

* Departing UK - GBP60 per piece.
* Departing USA - USD100 per piece.

Between Orlando/Miami and UK

* Departing UK - GBP70 per piece.
* Departing USA - USD115 per piece.

Between Los Angeles/San Francisco/Las Vegas and UK

* Departing UK - GBP90 per piece.
* Departing USA - USD140 per piece.

Between Chicago and UK

* Departing UK - GBP55 per piece
* Departing Chicago - USD100 per piece

Between Caribbean and UK

* Departing UK - GBP75 per piece.
* Departing Caribbean - USD115 per piece.

Between Bahamas/Cuba/Jamaica and UK

* Departing UK - GBP75 per piece.
* Departing Bahamas/Cuba/Jamaica - USD115 per piece.

Between Lagos and UK

* Departing UK - GBP110 per piece.
* Departing Nigeria - USD160 per piece.

Between Lagos and USA/Caribbean/Bahamas/Cuba/Jamaica

* USD180 per piece for US East Coast cities.
* USD220 per piece for US West Coast cities, Florida, the Caribbean, Bahamas, Jamaica and Cuba.

Between USA/Caribbean/Bahamas/Cuba/Jamaica and India

* USD123 per piece for US East Coast cities.
* USD137 per piece for US West Coast cities, Florida the Caribbean, Bahamas, Jamaica and Cuba.

Between USA/Caribbean/Bahamas/Cuba/Jamaica and Hong Kong/Shanghai/Tokyo

* USD149 per piece for US East Coast cities.
* USD164 per piece for US West Coast cities, Florida, the Caribbean, Bahamas, Jamaica and Cuba.

* Flights to/from South Africa, India, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Dubai, Kenya and the UK use the weight system. Excess baggage charges are based on 1.5% of the highest normal direct adult one way Economy Class fare (W class***) irrespective of the fare paid by yourself, and are per kg excess.
* Between South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai, Kenya and UK - 1.5%
* From Hong Kong to Australia - 1.5% ***
* From the UK to Australia - 1% ***
* From India to UK - 1.5% ***
* From UK to India - 1.5%
* From Australia to Hong Kong - AUD20.00 per kg excess.
* From Australia to the UK - AUD40.00 per kg excess.

Due to the charges varying greatly, we are unable to list these charges. For details of the weight system excess baggage charges, please contact Reservations.

Note

* For flights departing Nigeria a 5% NCAA sales tax is payable by the passenger on top of the stated fixed Dollar amount seen above. This applies per extra piece.
* For flights departing Hong Kong, India to UK and between Hong Kong and Australia, the excess baggage charges are based on a percentage of the highest normal direct adult one way IATA Economy Class fare (Y class).

Contact Customer.relations@fly.virgin.com

Reservations +44 0870 380 2007

Website http://www.virgin-atlantic.com

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Wibbler
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Postby Wibbler » Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:02 pm

Mr Branson is indeed a kiter...

Can't believe how ridiculous those charges are. Your better off buying a seat for your bags.

I'll be flying British Airways from now on.

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Postby Phil » Sat Sep 22, 2007 4:56 pm

Wibbler wrote:Mr Branson is indeed a kiter...
Not only he is a kiter.....he is also a damn good businessman.
Go figure :(


Phil
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North_Wind
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Postby North_Wind » Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:35 pm

Phil wrote:
Wibbler wrote:Mr Branson is indeed a kiter...
Not only he is a kiter.....he is also a damn good businessman.
Go figure :(


Phil
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I wonder? I may travel economy when its personal but I fly business on business loads out of Heathrow where I have a choice of Virgin & BA (amongst others). My business tickets are regularly £3500 a pop. Unless I am properly refunded guess who isn't getting my business going forward?

North Wind

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Postby ckramer » Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:53 pm

Most of the time there is a small fee to pay for sports equipment. You should check before you leave. It is nonsense blaming the air company when all you had to do is ask.... Only fiew airlines give extra luggage allowance for free, and even with those you have to ask for something on paper to avoid discussions with people at check in desk, that most probably won't even know anything about sports equipment allowance.

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Postby Sumpamda » Sat Sep 22, 2007 6:34 pm

Thanks for the heads up - I was just about to book on Virgin Atlantic for NY -> London -> South Africa... hmmm... may see what else is out there.

Does anyone have any experience with kite Golf bags and Virgin Atlantic?

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Postby Toby » Sat Sep 22, 2007 7:21 pm

as stated above...

Sporting Equipment

Virgin Atlantic allows an extra 10kg allowance for golfers who wish to check in one golf bag (which includes a maximum of 14 clubs, a dozen balls and a pair of shoes).

Other sporting equipment such as skis (with one pair of poles and one pair of boots), rucksacks, sleeping bags, and bicycles will be considered as one piece of luggage. Excess charges will apply.

We have special rates for carrying sports equipment.

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Postby North_Wind » Sat Sep 22, 2007 7:31 pm

ckramer wrote:Most of the time there is a small fee to pay for sports equipment. You should check before you leave. It is nonsense blaming the air company when all you had to do is ask.... Only fiew airlines give extra luggage allowance for free, and even with those you have to ask for something on paper to avoid discussions with people at check in desk, that most probably won't even know anything about sports equipment allowance.
I have travelled with my kite bag on many airlines and until this experience it was always free or (as you say) for a "small fee". In the UK at least if a charge is proposed it is nowadays usually made very obvious indeed. As far as I am concerned any of the following are OK:

- taking your sports bag for free (the best solution - what British Airways does)
- taking your bag for a "small fee" to use your words (what in the UK Ryanair does - £15.50 each way)
- charging more than a "small fee" but at least making it absolutely obvious that you do so.

What is not OK in my view is to charge massive fees and bury the fact that you do so somewhere in the small print or on your website. Large/punitive fees should I think be prominently disclosed. Shame on airlines that conduct business this way.


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