Regardless of whether you have a large stash of Velocity points or some savings in the bank, Virgin Australia offers a few ways to upgrade to Business Class at a reasonable cost.
While having elite Velocity status will undoubtedly raise your chances considerably, I have also found it to be surprisingly easy to nab an upgrade with cash bids as a Red member.
Upgrade to Virgin Australia Boeing 737 Business Class from 4,900 points or under $100 in cash
There are three main ways to escape your Economy Class seat, but you must be flying on a Virgin Australia-operated flight with a VA flight number and be booked on a commercial ticket. Reward bookings, prize/free tickets or group bookings will not be eligible.
Essentially, any ‘normal’ ticket purchased with cash or points and pay should be eligible for upgrade.
UpgradeMe Cash Bid
This is the easiest and 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, or by finding the ‘Bid for an Upgrade’ button on your ‘Manage Booking’ dashboard.
If eligible, you will then be presented with a screen to select your desired bid. In my personal experience, bids on the lower end of the scale (including the bare minimum) still have a reasonable chance of being accepted if there are seats available a day before departure.
A sub-$500 bid could see you spend nine hours in the A330 Business Suite from Hong Kong to Melbourne
Once you submit your credit card details, all you have to do is wait for an email with the outcome up to 12 hours before the flight. You can modify your bid up to 75 hours before the scheduled departure. You will only be charged if your bid is accepted.
Using Velocity Points is the more traditional way to upgrade for frequent flyers, and can be quite good value on the more expensive fare types. Once again, it is only possible on normal commercial VA fares.
Here is a comparison of Velocity Points needed to upgrade domestic flights from different fare types.
|From Getaway/Elevate fare||From Freedom fare|
|0-600 miles (e.g. Sydney to Melbourne)||10,000||4,900|
|601-1200 miles (e.g. Melbourne to Brisbane)||17,500||7,400|
|1201-2400(e.g. Perth to Sydney)||30,000||9,900|
Slightly different rates apply to international flights, so see the latest points tables here. On long-haul flights to Los Angeles and Hong Kong, only Velocity Gold and Platinum members can lodge points upgrades, but unlike Qantas, they can clear immediately if there is availability.
Virgin Australia lounge access is part of the deal when you upgrade to Business Class
Upgrades initially come out of Reward Seat availability, so if you can book a Business Class seat outright, then you can also upgrade from a cash fare to a Business Reward seat instantly.
In this example, Perth to Melbourne has Business Reward seat availability for an instant confirmed upgrade, but there is nothing on the way back yet.
If there is no availability, then you can be placed on a waitlist which will clear from 5 days (Platinum members), 3 days (Gold) or 2 days before departure (Red and Silver members).
UpgradeMe Platinum Offer
Platinum frequent flyers have one more trick up their sleeves – four complimentary upgrade credits for every year they maintain Platinum status.
These are valid for any upgrade from a Freedom (read: most expensive/flexible) Economy fares on any domestic and short-haul international flights.
Like points upgrades, these credits are usable when there is Business Reward availability on your desired flight. They cannot be used for waitlisting, only when a confirmed upgrade is available.
With each complimentary credit being worth up to 9,900 points each, it is not a bad perk for Velocity Platinum travellers who can splurge on a Freedom fare occasionally (or have work pay for it).
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 the cheapest Getaway fares, I have been successful in upgrading short flights from $65 one way.
A successful upgrade will grant you the business class seat, priority airport perks and the full onboard experience. However, be mindful that the terms and conditions state upgrades do not include an updated luggage allowance, plus points and Status Credits are earned on the originally ticketed class only.
Having said that, I have had no problems getting the full business class baggage allowance when upgrading. Regardless of whether you are using points or cash, upgrades are amongst the cheapest way to fly Business Class with Virgin Australia.