Even on a short domestic hop, there’s something to be said about being welcomed to your plush leather seat with a pre-departure sparkling wine in hand. Best of all, it might not even cost you a cent with Virgin Australia. Do you have a large stash of Velocity Points or a Velocity Platinum card in your wallet? If so, upgrades can be well within reach.

Having elite Velocity status will undoubtedly raise your chances of snagging an upgrade. But we’ve also found it to be possible to nab an upgrade with cash bids as a base-level Velocity member.

Seating in Business Class on Virgin Australia's Boeing 737
Upgrade to Virgin Australia Boeing 737 Business Class from 4,900 Velocity Points on routes such as Sydney-Melbourne.

There are three main ways to upgrade from your Economy Class seat. You must book a paid Virgin Australia-operated flight with a VA flight number – although Economy Lite fares aren’t upgradeable. Reward bookings, prize/free tickets or group bookings will not be eligible.

Essentially, except for those Economy Lite fares, any ‘normal’ ticket purchased with cash or Points and pay should be eligible for an upgrade. Of course, there are exceptions. There still needs to be Business Reward Seat availability before you can confirm an immediate upgrade. Otherwise, you may have to waitlist.

1. UpgradeMe Platinum Member Offer

Velocity Platinum frequent flyers have one trick up their sleeves – four complimentary upgrade credits for every year they maintain Platinum Status. These are valid for an upgrade from Economy Flex fares on most Virgin Australia domestic and international flights including Tokyo, but not Christmas and Cocos Islands.

Flex fares are the highest-priced Economy Class category but come with the ability to cancel to credit at no cost. Until 31 March 2024, you can also use a higher number of upgrade credits from a Choice fare.

Like Velocity Points upgrades, you can use these credits when there is Business Class Reward Seat availability on your desired flight. You can’t use Platinum upgrade credits for waitlisting – only when a confirmed upgrade is available. Starting from 48 hours before departure, additional upgrade seats may become available.

With an equivalent Velocity Points upgrade costing up to 24,900 Velocity Points per flight (Cairns-Tokyo from Flex Economy), it’s a great perk for Velocity Platinum travellers.

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2. UpgradeMe Points

Using Velocity Points is the more traditional way to upgrade for frequent flyers, and can be quite good value – especially on the more expensive fare types. Once again, this is only possible on normal commercial Virgin Australia fares – Economy Lite excluded.

Here is a comparison of Velocity Points needed to upgrade domestic flights from different fare types. These rates are correct as of 23 February 2023. For further details, see the Velocity website.

Flight distanceFrom Economy ChoiceFrom Economy Flex
0-600 miles (eg Sydney to Melbourne)10,000 Velocity Points4,900 Velocity Points
601-1,200 miles (eg Melbourne to Brisbane)17,500 Velocity Points7,400 Velocity Points
1,201-2,400 miles (eg Perth to Sydney)30,000 Velocity Points9,900 Velocity Points
2,401-3,600 miles (eg Melbourne to Denpasar)35,000 Velocity Points14,900 Velocity Points
Virgin Brisbane Lounge
Where available, Virgin Australia Lounge access is part of the package when you upgrade to Business Class.

Upgrades initially come out of Business Class Reward Seat availability. If you can book a Business Class Reward Seat outright, then you can also upgrade from a cash fare to a Business Reward Seat instantly.

On a Flex Economy fare, it only costs 9,900 Velocity Points to upgrade to Business from Perth to Sydney.

If there’s no Reward Seat availability, then you can be placed on a waitlist. The waitlist will be cleared by priority of status.

3. UpgradeMe Premium Bid

This is the most accessible method to secure your upgrade. Nearly anyone is eligible to bid – as long as you are on a standard commercial VA fare as explained above.

You can start by entering your booking details on this page. You can also find the ‘Bid for an Upgrade’ button on your ‘Manage Booking’ dashboard.

Virgin 737 Domestic | Point Hacks

If eligible, then you’ll be able to place a bid for upgrading the flight. In my personal experience, bids on the lower end of the scale (including the bare minimum) can have a chance of being accepted if there are seats available a day before departure.

Once you submit your credit card details, all you have to do is wait for an email with the outcome. This can arrive up to 12 hours before the flight. You can modify your bid up to 6 hours before the scheduled departure, and will only be charged if your bid is actually accepted.

Virgin Upgrade | Point Hacks

Summing up

Virgin Australia’s bidding system for upgrades makes it accessible for any traveller to have a chance at making it to Business Class. Even on Economy Choice fares, I’ve been successful in upgrading short flights from $65 one way. You can also use Velocity Points for fixed-rate upgrades, while Platinum members have complimentary upgrades from certain fares.

A successful upgrade will grant you the Business Class seat, priority check-in and boarding (where available). However, be mindful that upgrades do not include a boosted luggage allowance for UpgradeMe Premium Bids. (The Business Class additional baggage does apply for upgrades made with Velocity Points and Platinum complimentary upgrades, though.) Also, if your upgrade is successful, you will earn Points and Status Credits as per the original ticketed fare.

A comprehensive guide to Virgin Australia upgrades was last modified: January 8th, 2024 by Brandon Loo