Virgin getting stingy with complimentary platinum upgrades?

This week one of our members is finding it difficult to use their Virgin complimentary platinum upgrades.

I tried to use a platinum comp upgrade, but there seems no award seats available. I’ve checked on expert flyer, and it seems there are only 6 passengers in J out of possible 36 seats. I was searching on monday, and they had 3 seats available (I booked two of them for my wife and daugter) and wanted to use the Plat upgrade for myself, but by the time my tickets were finalized (through work), there is no more availability. What’s the chance of VA releasing more seats closer to the dates?

Virgin Australia offer their Platinum frequent flyers four complimentary upgrades to business class each year. It sounds great, but there are a couple of catches. Firstly, only the more expensive “flexi” fares are eligible for the free upgrade. Secondly, business seats available for these free upgrades are limited!

Only a small number of seats are usually set aside for regular points upgrades, and even fewer are available to Platinum members using their complimentary upgrades. On Boeing 737 flights, as little as one seat may be set aside for platinum upgrades. On A330 flights, there may only be two or three.

It was recently reported on another AFF thread that a Platinum member was denied their upgrade request, only to find one business class seat out of eight on board the Boeing 737 occupied. The member discovered that the person in business had used the only complimentary upgrade available on the flight. In this case, no more seats were made available.

If you want to upgrade but the seat allocation has already been exhausted, asking in the lounge may see more seats released, provided there are still some available in the business cabin just before the flight.

In the early days it was really easy to use these, but in recent times VA has got a bit stingy with them. If there is an award seat available then you should get it, although I used one yesterday and there was 2 award seats available but the call centre said only 1 was available for a comp, so it doesn’t always translate. Try again in the lounge, I’ve had good results there – the BNE lounge told me they could override the system and process the upgrade as long as there was a spare seat. Catering was not assured – this was done 1 hour prior to departure.

To avoid any problems in the first place, it is suggested to check over the phone that there is still a seat available in the business cabin for a complimentary upgrade before booking. It is also noted that there are more seats available at off-peak times or on less popular routes. One of our members recently had no trouble using their upgrades on a trip to Darwin.

What has your experience been like? Leave a comment HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]