Velocity Frequent Flyer seat upgrade guide

This article was published some time ago and content may be out-of-date.  Airlines are continually changing their loyalty programs. Always double-check with the airline. 

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Overview

Velocity’s seat upgrade reward, ‘UpgradeMe’ allows you to upgrade your existing fully-paid Virgin Australia ticket to a higher cabin-class (Economy -> Premium or Economy -> Business) on Virgin Australia. This redemption method arguably offers less value, as upgrades are dependent on reward seat availability. This means your upgrade is not always guaranteed. Because of this, it may be best to secure a reward seat.

As we touch on below, asking yourself the following questions will help determine if a Velocity seat upgrade is for you.

  1. Did someone else pay for my Economy ticket?
  2. Do I value the flexible nature of Virgin’s Flexible Economy ticket? (sometimes costing up to 100% more)

If you answer yes to one, or both questions, a seat upgrade may offer value. If not, a fully-secured Velocity reward seat is probably the better option.

Another weak point is that unless you hold Gold status, upgrades are restricted to Virgin Australia operated domestic and a restricted list of international short-haul flights (international long-haul seat upgrades are available exclusively to Gold members).

Velocity Reward Seats

Velocity’s reward seat redemption method allows you to use your points for a seat on Virgin Australia, or one of Virgin’s international partner airlines. However, there are only a set amount of seats allocated for any particular flight, so availability is limited. Velocity’s rewards offer some great value, especially in Business Class on Virgin Australia operated flights. But you must be flexible.

Velocity-Krisflyer Transfer

Velocity’s reward seat inventory is severely limited on popular International flights, especially in Business Class. To overcome this you may transfer your Velocity points to Krisflyer and redeem Singapore Airlines flights directly, where there’s much more availability!

Velocity Round The World

Although Velocity doesn’t offer a ‘Round The World redemption directly, you can transfer your Velocity points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles and redeem the impressive Star Alliance Round The Wold Reward.

Velocity seat upgrade fare eligibility

Unfortunately, Velocity’s upgrade paths are a little limited. For most Velocity members, upgrades are limited to Virgin Australia operated domestic and a restricted list of international short-haul flights only. Long-haul upgrades are only available to Velocity members with Gold status. Upgrades on international partner airline operated flights, including Virgin Australia code-shares, are not possible.

Further to this, the most cost-effective seat upgrades (the lowest point cost) exclude the cheapest Virgin fare types. Therefore, seat upgrades are only valuable if you’ve purchased a ‘Flexible’ Economy cash ticket (for international long-haul flights, Velocity only permit upgrades from these higher priced Flexible fares).

That said, for routes with high reward seat availability (especially Virgin Australia domestic flights), upgrades can be an efficient use points, especially if you’re upgrading an eligible ticket that’s already been purchased. Even better if it’s already been paid for by someone else!

How to apply for a Velocity seat upgrade

To request an upgrade, go to the Virgin Australia website and log-in to your Velocity account and locate the booking you wish to upgrade. If reward seat inventory is available, your upgrade will usually go through instantly. If your upgrade does not go through straight away, you may apply for the Velocity seat upgrade wait-list.

You can submit an upgrade request until 4 hours before the scheduled departure online, or 2 hours via the Velocity call centre. Alternatively, Velocity members with Gold status may request an upgrade at the Virgin Australia Lounge in-person in the final 2 hours.

Remember, this is simply an upgrade request, you will only receive an upgrade if there is reward seat availability, which means you may struggle on popular routes.

Velocity seat upgrade wait-list

If you are not able to secure an upgrade initially, you can register for the wait-list. The wait-list utilises any remaining reward seat capacity, that may be made available closer to a flight’s scheduled departure. Wait-list requests are fulfilled based on your Velocity status and may be filled up until 4 hours before scheduled departure time. If successful, you will be notified as per the following priority order: Platinum – From 5 days before scheduled departure; Gold – From 3 days before; Silver/Red From 2 days to 4 hours before. Velocity does not notify you if your wait-list request is unsuccessful.

Velocity seat upgrade conditions & point cost

Domestic

The below table explains what it costs in points to upgrade a domestic Virgin Australia Economy fare to Business (one-way). As you can tell, it costs significantly more to upgrade the cheapest Economy fare types (Getaway and Elevate) than it does a Flexible Economy fare (Freedom). For this reason, unless you value a Flexible ticket, or someone else has bought one for you, you’re almost always better off redeeming a guaranteed Business Class reward seat.

For example, a Sydney to Perth Business reward will set you back 33,800 in points (+ approx. $23 in taxes). This is just above what it costs to upgrade an already purchased ($200+) Discount Economy ticket to Business (30,000 points).

There are exceptions to the rule, however. Using the same route example, let’s say you fly between Sydney and Perth (but this situation works with any Domestic route) for work regularly and your employer books a Flexible Economy ticket (Freedom fare). It costs just 9,000 Velocity points to upgrade this flight to Velocity’s award-winning lie-flat Business suites (approx. $1,800 cash fare). As with most domestic upgrades, you should have your upgrade accepted immediately as availability is generally very good.

In a similar fashion, if you value (and are happy to pay for) a Flexible Economy fare, an upgrade may be worth considering (as they start at just 4,900 points).

If you’re on a Discount Economy fare, it’s the shorter domestic flights that offer the best upgrade value. For instance, the cheapest Economy fare from Sydney – Melbourne will set you back 10,000 points to upgrade, while Sydney – Perth is 30,000. This is almost as much as the fully secured reward seat!). The differences are a little less noticeable if you’ve already purchased a Flexible fare.

Velocity’s domestic reward seat availability is very good, even days out from departure. That said, you’re obviously going to struggle if there’s major demand (e.g. Sunday night flights out of Melbourne after the middle weekend of the Australian Open tennis).

Click on each row  (+ icon) for more information, including example one-way routes.

International short-haul (Bali, Fiji, NZ)

The below table explains what it costs to upgrade a Virgin Australia short-haul international Economy fare to Business (one-way). Upgrades are only on Virgin Australia operated flights (VA code-shares on partner airlines are not eligible). This leaves Virgin’s flights departing to or arriving from Bali, Fiji or New Zealand.

Like Domestic upgrades, it costs significantly more points to upgrade the cheaper Economy fares (Go Plus, Getaway) than a Flexible Economy ticket (Freedom). Upgrades are not available from the cheapest ‘Go’ fare. As per our advice on when to Upgrade a Domestic flight, you’ll be better placed if you value the Flexible Economy fare or if someone has purchased the ticket for you already.

Although there are very limited destinations here, Upgrades on routes like Sydney – Fiji (Nadi) present decent value from the second-cheapest Economy fare. You’ll get the added benefit of travelling in one of Virgin Australia’s lie-flat Business Suites on their A330, too. However, you may prefer to secure the full Business reward straight off the bat for just 35,000 points one-way.

Click on each row  (+ icon) for more information, including example one-way routes.

International long-haul (Hong Kong, Los Angeles)

Long-haul upgrades are exclusively available to Velocity members holding Gold or Platinum status. Learn more about reaching and retaining Velocity’s premium Gold-level status here.

Upgrades are only on Virgin Australia operated flights (VA code-share flights on partner airlines aren’t eligible). This leaves Virgin Australia operated flights to Los Angeles (departing Syd/Mel/Bris) and Hong Kong (dep. Mel). Partner operated flights like Singapore Airlines and Etihad are not upgradable.

The below table explains what it costs to upgrade a long-haul international Economy fare to Business. Only Flexible Economy fares and above may be upgraded – upgrades from Virgin’s cheapest fares, Getaway and Elevate, are ineligible. Flexible Economy cash seats cost significantly more than the cheapest Economy fares, so we reiterate, if you’re not having your seat paid for you or you don’t value the flexible nature of the most expensive Economy fare ticket, you’re almost always better off securing the full reward seat.

As the Velocity points upgrade cost is fixed across both eligible Virgin Australia Operated flights (to Los Angeles and Hong Kong), Los Angeles (dep. Syd/Mel/Bris) is clearly the best value International long-haul upgrade option.

Velocity’s reward seat availability on eligible Virgin Australia long-haul flights routes is low, however, reward seats tend to pop up just days out from departure, which indicates potential availability for Gold and Platinum upgrading members.

Click on each row (+) for more information, including example routes.


Tips for securing Velocity seat upgrades

Availability

Since upgrades use Velocity’s allocated reward seat inventory, it’s helpful to understand reward availability on the route you wish to upgrade your existing ticket. Launch our reward seat redemption guide to learn more about availability.

Be flexible

As with most frequent flyer programs, the number one rule for securing a valuable reward is to be flexible. Therefore, it may help to consider the tips below.

Travel times, days, dates & locations
Book ahead
Keep Searching
Travel times, days, dates & locations

Be flexible with travel times and even the days on which you travel. For instance, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday are the airlines’ peak days. Try your luck with a mid-week Seat Upgrade request, along with non-peak departure times for more success (for example, morning and evening commuter times). Like full reward seats, you’ll also have more success if you’re flexible with dates. As we’ve mentioned beforehand, sometimes it’s simply better to book a reward seat due to the uncertainty of knowing whether Velocity will grant you an upgrade. This is especially the case for high-demand international flights in premium cabins.

Book ahead

Reward seats generally come online 330 days before scheduled departure. Search early and then often (see below).

Keep Searching

Reward seats don’t all become online at the 330 day-mark. Many appear right up until the scheduled departure date. Search regularly and you may improve your chances.

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