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 you, 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 are well within reach.

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

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2021: Velocity Platinum members can now use their complimentary upgrades from Virgin Australia Elevate and Choice fares, for travel until 30 June 2022.

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. You must book a paid Virgin Australia-operated flight with a VA flight number. 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 an upgrade. Of course, there are exceptions. You’ll need to find Business Reward availability before you can confirm an immediate upgrade. Otherwise, you may have to waitlist.

1. UpgradeMe Platinum Offer

Platinum frequent flyers have one trick up their sleeves – four complimentary upgrade credits for every year they maintain Platinum status. These are usually valid for an upgrade from Flex Economy fares on any domestic and short-haul international flights. Flex fares are generally full-price but come with the ability to cancel to credit for free.

But until 30 June 2022, Platinum members can also use their upgrades on a Choice fare as well. (If you have an older Elevate fare, that’s also eligible). These mid-tier tickets are usually far cheaper than Flex, so this is a great outcome. In fact, current Choice fares start from $69 on selected routes. With a free upgrade to Business Class on top, you’ve snagged yourself an excellent deal.

Hopefully, this change will become a permanent benefit over time. Perhaps loyal customers can earn this benefit back every year if they meet a certain membership threshold.

Like points upgrades, you can use these credits when there is Business Reward availability on your desired flight. You can’t use Platinum Upgrade credits for waitlisting – only when a confirmed upgrade is available.

With each complimentary upgrade credit being worth up to 9,900 points each for Freedom fares and up to 30,000 points for Choice fares, 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 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 fareFrom Freedom fare
0-600 miles (e.g. Sydney to Melbourne)10,0004,900
601-1200 miles (e.g. Melbourne to Brisbane)17,5007,400
1201-2400(e.g. Perth to Sydney)30,0009,900
Virgin Brisbane Lounge
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.

Virgin Australia Upgrade | Point Hacks
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).

3. UpgradeMe 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.

Virgin 737 Domestic | Point Hacks

If eligible, then you will 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) still have a reasonable chance of being accepted if there are seats available a day before departure.

Virgin Australia Upgrade | Point Hacks

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, 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 the cheapest Getaway 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 free upgrades from certain fares.

A successful upgrade will grant you the Business Class seat, priority airport perks and the full onboard experience. However, be mindful that upgrades do not include a boosted luggage allowance for UpgradeMe Bids. (It does apply for upgrades made with Velocity Points and Platinum Complimentary upgrades.)

A comprehensive guide to Virgin Australia upgrades was last modified: January 13th, 2022 by Brandon Loo