|Virgin Value Fares
||[Apr. 26th, 2004|08:32 pm]
I got an interesting email today. Someone had been searching for information on the availability of Virgin's value train fares, and found my LiveJournal as one of the only sources of information on the web about it....|
So, for anyone else happening across it, a couple of bits information that I've gleaned over many (sometimes painful) encounters with the virgin booking service:
- Virgin value fares are quota controlled. When the quota is sold out, you won't be able to book the value tickets
- The quotas are released at some point in advance (more on that later). When the quota hasn't been released, you will see exactly the same error as above, when they have sold out. Handy. (The only way to spot the difference is to heavily widen your search dates and times, and see if random value fares suddenly appear)
- The quota availability information isn't anywhere on the Virgin website, instead it must be gleaned by trial and error. Requests to virgin that they list the information somewhere (as Scotrail do for their value sleeper tickets) have fallen largely on deaf ears
- The quotas should be released 6-8 weeks in advance. They usually aren't, owing to things like: summer/winter timetable changes (May and September), engineering works not being finalised (most commonly affects weekend fares), system issues, and general uselessness.
- The quotas aren't always released for the whole network at once. Unofficial advice is to try to guess where the journey "segments" are (typically bits around Birmingham New Street), then try to book different legs. If you can book for one bit but not the other, do. At a later date, you will hopefully be able to get the second (or third) leg at a value price. If you can't, you'll have to pay full fare for the whole lot
- The official virgin help system tells you the solution to all of the above is to continually check the website (I quote "Please keep checking the web-site to see when the tickets become
- The different booking agencies (stations, virgin website, trainline, qjump etc) all have access to the same pool of quotas. However, they may display more useful information about them (eg QJump will tell you which bits of your journey have no quotas)
- The newsgroup uk.railway is very very helpful. Check the Google Groups archive for info, and failing that post.