Best way to upgrade Points or Cash?

5 replies

Stephen D

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 12 Nov 2017

Total posts 42

Dear ABT folk, heading off to the US via VA in late November, flying PE. I am a Platinum FF and put in a bid for an upgrade on points to business (45K each way) but was put on a wait list, in spite of only four seats being taken in business.

Just wondering what has the best chance of an upgrade; points or a cash bid? Is there an algorithm, which determines which would be successful?



Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 16 Jul 2018

Total posts 32

I haven't done this particular route but chances of an upgrade on an Aus to LAX leg flying VA I would think are pretty slim. They count on selling as many of these as possible and getting a reward seat for the trip is nigh on impossible. I think points is your best bet but definitely call the Velocity helpline (you may have done already though). I find that the Velocity helpline treat Gold and Platinum members like royalty over the phone.


Member since 05 May 2016

Total posts 318

I don't know about VA, but I know with QF some SYD based flyers will deliberately fly via e.g. MEL as the chances of upgrades are generally higher via MEL on QF (same aeroplane model used but a little less demand for Business seats). An extra flight can be annoying but if it increases your upgrade chances for the main flight you may find that it's worth it in future.

November may be a quieter month. It's not school holidays and it's not the best weather in the Northern Hemisphere either. Though Thanksgiving is 22nd November this year so if you're going not long before that it would be a popular time for travel.

If you end up waitlisted for an upgrade on VA you're probably not going to get a very good indication as to what your upgrade chances are till at most a week or two out from the flight one would think. Airlines like to keep seats available for those willing to pay last minute prices.

A crude, free measure to check what the loads are is to see how many seats you can still book on a flight in a particular cabin.

A better measure is to use a website that lets you check the loads and get a figure such as J9 (at least 9 seats available for purchase in the J bucket, the loads stop counting at 9 seats available). There are multiple fare buckets for each cabin.

Checking the loads for e.g. SYD-LAX, MEL-LAX and BNE-LAX can give you an indication as to which flight may give you a better chance of an upgrade for particular dates you wish to travel.

I think VA uses the same aircraft model for all its flights to LAX.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 20 Jan 2016

Total posts 47

From experience If you want the upgrade the cash bid will very likely be successful. Certainly from PE anyway. Not sure its great value unless you got a deal on the PE seat to start with. Even the minimum bid puts you very close to having just bought the seat outright when added to a PE seat price. But its a decent option.

Award Wait listing tends to be very random. It might be a little better in late November. I have done the LAX flight a number of times in November and have had more luck with award space at that time of year, especially out of BNE. Its a pretty quiet time, thanksgiving excepted.

Not sure about how the availability algorithm works, but from experience its rare that bid upgrades fail from PE unless the flight is very full. I have seen bid upgrades go through and wait lists for platinum be denied for the same flight, but never the other way round. Either way, your not likely to know if you are successful until about 24 hours prior. Good luck.

Stephen D

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 12 Nov 2017

Total posts 42

Thanks folk for your comments. I have done this leg on multiple occasions and have been successful with cash bids in the past, but have plenty of points and thought I would try this.

Kind regards


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 11 Jul 2017

Total posts 22

I've tried for a points upgrade 5 times and received the upgrade 3 times on SYD-LAX or vice versa, so a decent strike rate. However, I will note that the two failures were the 2 most recent times I tried, so that may be an indicator

Last editedby JohnGB at Jul 24, 2018, 05:45 AM.

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