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 surprisingly easy to nab an upgrade with cash bids as a base-level Velocity member.
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.
This content is created in partnership with Velocity Frequent Flyer.
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 domestic and short-haul international flights – except routes to and from 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.
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.
With an equivalent Velocity Points upgrade costing up to 14,900 Velocity Points per flight, it’s a great perk for Velocity Platinum travellers.
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 distance||From Economy Choice||From Economy Flex|
|0-600 miles (eg Sydney to Melbourne)||10,000 Velocity Points||4,900 Velocity Points|
|601-1,200 miles (eg Melbourne to Brisbane)||17,500 Velocity Points||7,400 Velocity Points|
|1,201-2,400 miles (eg Perth to Sydney)||30,000 Velocity Points||9,900 Velocity Points|
|2,401-3,600 miles (eg Melbourne to Denpasar)||35,000 Velocity Points||14,900 Velocity Points|
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.
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.
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 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.