All our guests deserve to receive dependable and reliable service, which we constantly strive to achieve. Virgin Australia has developed a comprehensive plan to forecast and adapt to the operational and guest requirements during the event of unavoidable delays and diversions. The safety of our guests and staff remains paramount for Virgin Australia, however, we will also make every effort to minimise the length and inconvenience incurred by these delays.

The Virgin Australia Operations Control Centre (OCC) and Airport Leaders are responsible for the execution of our Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays. Virgin Australia meets, or exceeds, the legislative requirements set by the Department of Transport (DOT) tarmac rule, including the hard time limits and constraints affecting taxi delays.

The following exceptions apply to the hard time limits placed on international flights arriving into and departing from the U.S

  • Safety or security concerns, or
  • Air Traffic Control (ATC) direction to the Captain due to likely disruptions to airport operations

Plan requirements

Virgin Australia’s Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays (U.S. airports only) ensures we meet the requirements of the DOT for extended tarmac delays, including diversions, for a period of four (4) hours or more. This plan ensures our guests have access to provisions and services to ensure their comfort, safety and security whilst on board. Virgin Australia has sufficient resources to implement the plan.

Adequate food and potable water will be provided to our guests no later than two (2) hours after the aircraft leaves the gate (during departures) or touches down (during arrivals). Guests will also have access to operable lavatories, medical assistance when required and other available comfort needs, except when the provision of these services present a safety or security risk as determined by the Captain.

This plan has been coordinated with all airport authorities, as detailed below.


The Operations Control Centre (OCC) is responsible for the management and quality of this plan. The OCC ensures all aspects of the causes of the delays are taken into consideration and effective and efficient decisions are made within this plan. Flight Crew, Airport Guest Services, catering and service support services will deliver this plan on the aircraft and on the tarmac.

Airport plan

The contingency plan is developed as an extension of the standard operating processes to handle extended on-board delays and diversions. All Virgin Australia operated airports in the U.S. have identified resources and processes to allow guests the opportunity to deplane within specified time limits.

Virgin Australia will manage diversions to allocate the same priority as other tarmac delays, ensuring guests will be allowed to disembark prior to the four (4) hour time limits. Ports should allow at least 30 minutes (and up to 60 minutes) to complete the task of returning to the gate and disembarking.

Virgin Australia has coordinated tarmac delay contingency plans with Airport Authorities and local officials from U.S. Customs and Border Control and U.S. Transportation Security Administration at each U.S. airport we serve to ensure the tarmac delay rules are met. This incorporates, but is not exclusive to provisioning and servicing aircraft, customs / security requirements and back-up measures in the event of inoperable equipment.

Airport Guest Services will ensure prepared and relevant gate announcements are delivered. These announcements will ensure our guests remain informed of:

  • reason for the delay and expected departure time
  • boarding strategy; and
  • possible impacts of the DOT’s tarmac delay rule.

The Virgin Australia OCC will ensure the Airport Guest Services Team and Flight Crew are kept up-to-date with information regarding the delay.  This information will be communicated every 30 minutes to guests on-board and in the terminal.

In the case that an aircraft is sitting at the gate or another disembarkation point with its door open, we will begin to notify you 30 minutes after scheduled departure time and every 30 minutes thereafter that you have the opportunity to get off the aircraft, provided that the opportunity to disembark exists.

Virgin Australia will constantly review any safety, security and comfort concerns and make decisions to ensure the best possible outcome for all our valued guests.

Thank you for choosing to fly with Virgin Australia. We endeavour to consistently demonstrate our dedication to maintaining a high standard of service and products for our guests.