How to check if flight upgrades are available on Virgin Australia

By Chris C., November 29 2016
How to check if flight upgrades are available on Virgin Australia

Using frequent flyer points to upgrade from economy to Virgin Australia business class is one of the best ways to spend your hard-earned Velocity points – but how can you tell if a points-based upgrade is available on a specific flight before booking your ticket?

The airline’s reservation system doesn’t make this clear when you’re searching for fares and flights, but fortunately, there are two methods you can use to check this before locking-in your paid fare.

1: Search Virgin Australia’s website for ‘Reward Seats’

All Virgin Australia upgrades follow one simple rule: if you can use your Velocity points to secure a ‘Reward Seat’ on a particular flight in business class, you can also use your Velocity points for a confirmed upgrade to business class on that same flight.

It’s as simple as logging in on the Velocity website, browsing to ‘Search and Book Flights’ on the left-hand navigation menu and plugging in your preferred route and travel date.

Be sure that ‘Use Points + Pay’ is selected at the top, and then click ‘Find Flights’.

On the next page, scroll until you find your desired flight or travel time, and check to see if it has a ‘Business Reward’ available.

On the date we searched, we observed that flights VA816 and VA820 had a Business Reward available, but that flight VA824 did not – instead with ‘sold out’ appearing in the business class column (ignore 'Economy Reward' and 'Any Seat').

This means that on flights VA816 and VA820, you would be able to use Velocity points for a confirmed business class upgrade after purchasing an economy class ticket, but wouldn’t be able to achieve the same on flight VA824.

Armed with this information, you can then book your fare and use your points to upgrade as soon as your ticket has been finalised – whether that’s between Sydney and Melbourne or indeed on any other Virgin Australia route.

(On flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, points-based upgrades to business class and also premium economy are restricted to Velocity Gold and Platinum members only, while on domestic and all other international flights, all Velocity members can use points to upgrade.)

This method is best for travellers who need to fly on very specific dates, but if you’re flexible and aren’t having much luck in finding a Reward Seat (and therefore, an upgradeable flight), there’s another tool which can help you out.

2. Use ExpertFlyer to search for Reward Seats week by week

As above, Virgin Australia’s own website allows you to search for Reward Seats, determining also the availability of upgrades, but only on one calendar day at a time.

If you’d like to know all of your upgrade options, and fast, consider subscribing to the ExpertFlyer website. This allows you to search for Virgin Australia Reward Seats on any given route one week at a time, with the results all appearing on a single page.

You’ll pay US$10/month (A$13.35) or US$100/year (A$133.50) for the Pro Premium subscription, but once your membership is sorted and you’re logged in, head to the ‘Awards & Upgrades’ area and enter your route and travel date, while also selecting the ‘+/- 3 Days’ option at the side.

Also be sure to select ‘Virgin Australia (VA)’ as your airline of choice, enter how many Reward Seats (upgrades) you’re searching for, check the ‘Business – Award (Z)’ option and then click ‘Search’.

Looking at the Sydney-Auckland route in mid-December, we can see that at least one Reward Seat/upgrade is available on both VA144 and VA146 on December 13, and that at least one Reward Seat/upgrade is too up for grabs on December 14’s VA144 flight.

(Because we’ve searched for one upgrade, a ‘Yes’ in the ‘seats’ column means the software was able to find what we were looking for, being one seat.)

But from the same screen, it’s also clear that on December 15 and the days that follow, no Reward Seats are available on any Virgin Australia Sydney-Auckland flight, which means no points-based upgrades can be snagged, either.

(When Reward Seats/upgrades aren’t available, you’ll either see ‘no entries’ appear, or you’ll see the details of a flight but with ‘No’ in the ‘seats’ column: both indicate the same thing.)

You’ll also spot an ‘Aircraft’ column. This is handy on routes where Virgin Australia swaps between aircraft types, such from Sydney to Perth where both the Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 appear, as you can easily spot which flights are being served by which planes on the dates you’ll be travelling and can plan your journey accordingly.

Up the very front, that’s the difference between a fully-flat bed in Virgin Australia’s The Business on the Airbus A330s, or a reclining seat on the smaller Boeing 737s.

Also read: Virgin Australia business class upgrade guide

Connect with other business travellers in our Virgin Australia discussion group

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

04 May 2015

Total posts 268

Great tips! When travelling on business my employer asks that we book the best fare +/- 1hr from the time we need to travel, but that means we can still choose the flight we prefer, and fingers crossed, there will be an upgrade available.

I did subscribe to teh paid version for a month or two BUT I found it a waste of time and money with SQ (for example). They showed all kinds of flights on ANA (for example) that never showed up pn the SQ site

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

Hi readosunnycoast, not to stray too far off-topic, but you can't use the SQ website to book flights on partner airlines using miles: you need to do it via the SQ contact centre (either over the phone or by sending through a form). They'll never show up in searches on the SQ site.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 15

Short of searching day by day (either on their site, or on Expert Flyer which looks pretty good, thanks) do you have any tips for searching VA international business class? I want a return to LAX any time next year, don't mind when, with 10-14 days over there. I few sample dates pulled up nothing, whether short notice, 6 months away or 10 months away...

Also if I search on Expert Flyer for availability on EY, does that correspond to availability for using Velocity points on EY?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Nov 2013

Total posts 9

Can I do the same with QF for domestic upgrades.  I understand that international upgrades are based on status

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