One of the benefits of Virgin Australia Platinum status is the complimentary upgrades to Business Class. Velocity Platinum members are entitled to four annual upgrades on Virgin Australia flights via the UpgradeMe Platinum Member Offer.
This seems like a good deal if you have Velocity Platinum status – and it can be – but there are a few catches. Here’s what you need to know…
Which flights are eligible for Velocity’s UpgradeMe Platinum Member Offer?
You can use the UpgradeMe Platinum Member Offer to upgrade any domestic or short-haul international flight on Virgin Australia. This includes Virgin Australia flights to New Zealand, Pacific Island destinations, Papua New Guinea and Denpasar. However, the free upgrades cannot be used when flying on Virgin Australia’s partner airlines.
Only Economy Freedom fares are eligible for complimentary upgrades. These are the more expensive, flexible airfares. You cannot use a complimentary upgrade if you’ve purchased a cheaper Getaway or Elevate ticket.
Complimentary upgrades are not available when flying Virgin Australia to Hong Kong or Los Angeles. These routes are classified as “international long-haul”. On these routes, Velocity Gold and Platinum members are only able to upgrade using Velocity points – and only if an Economy Freedom (or Premium Economy) fare has been purchased.
As a Platinum member you can upgrade yourself, and any other guests travelling with you on the same booking. You cannot upgrade other passengers that are not travelling with you.
Upgrades are subject to Business Reward seat availability. As long as there is a Business Reward seat available on your flight, you’ll be able to upgrade any time after booking. You can search for Business Reward availability on the Virgin Australia website before booking to ensure you’ll be able to get the upgrade.
In the below example, there is Business Reward availability. So the upgrade request would be successful:
How to request a complimentary Velocity Platinum upgrade
As long as there are sufficient Business Reward seats available on your flight, you can request an upgrade any time after booking by calling the Velocity Membership Contact Centre. The call centre is open daily from 7.30am to 10.30pm (AEDT) and can be reached on 13 18 75 (or +61 2 8667 5924 from outside Australia).
You can request an UpgradeMe Platinum upgrade over the phone up to 2 hours before departure. You can also request an upgrade in the Virgin Australia Lounge up to 30 minutes prior to take-off. Note that catering may not be assured for last-minute upgrades.
If there are no Business Reward seats available on your flight, you could try calling Velocity around 7 days before the flight. The call centre may be able to release an extra reward seat for Platinum members. If this doesn’t work, keep checking for availability in the days leading up to the flight (setting an Expert Flyer alert is a good way to do this). Failing this, you can still upgrade at the airport on the day of the flight as long as there are still empty seats available in Business class.
Platinum Velocity members are entitled to 4 complimentary UpgradeMe Platinum upgrades per year. If you don’t use your upgrades by the end of your membership year, you will lose them. But you can redeem upgrades for flights that take place after your current membership year ends.
Are the free Velocity Platinum upgrades a good deal?
The value of the complimentary Virgin Australia Platinum upgrades is questionable. The main “catch” is that you have to buy more expensive “Freedom” airfares in order to use them.
On a flight from Brisbane to Sydney, for example, a Freedom fare costs $409. But, at the time of writing this article, the cheapest “Getaway” fare on one date we checked was only $105:
What’s more, a paid Business Class ticket could be had on this flight for $449 – only $40 more than the Freedom airfare!
There are of course cases where the value proposition will be much better. But in this instance, you’d be better off buying a Getaway or Elevate fare and bidding for an upgrade to Business Class. The minimum bid on the Brisbane-Sydney route is around $130, and these bids are often accepted. However, there is no guarantee that the minimum bid will always be accepted. At least the Platinum member upgrades (as with points upgrades) can be confirmed immediately.
On the Brisbane-Sydney route, it would also be possible to upgrade with points from an Economy Freedom fare to Business for just 4,900 Velocity points.
If you are planning to purchase a Freedom fare in order to use your upgrade voucher, don’t forget to use a Virgin Australia discount code to save money on the ticket!
These upgrades are best used on longer flights, particularly Virgin’s A330 flights to Perth and Fiji with lie-flat Business Class.
Despite some shortcomings, the UpgradeMe Platinum Offer is not a bad benefit for Velocity Platinum members – especially those that normally buy Freedom fares anyway. This benefit is unique in Australia to Virgin Australia; Qantas does not offer an equivalent perk to its Platinum or Platinum One frequent flyers.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Velocity UpgradeMe Platinum offer