Virgin Australia’s Velocity Platinum frequent flyers are in for a treat over the coming months, with the airline expanding the use of complimentary ‘UpgradeMe Platinum’ credits to also include semi-flexible Elevate fares.
That’s a more generous approach than is normally in place for business class upgrades, with these credits otherwise useful only after booking a fully flexible – and more expensive – Freedom ticket.
Upgrading from those mid-range Elevate fares will be possible for journeys booked and taken by October 31 2021.
As before, one credit equals a one-way bump to business class for one person on any Virgin Australia domestic route.
This means two credits would be required to upgrade a return trip, with four credits needed if travelling with a companion.
Upgrades are subject to business class ‘reward seat’ availability – that is, if you can book a business class seat outright on your desired flight using Velocity Points, you can use a complimentary UpgradeMe Platinum credit to secure an upgrade from economy.
How to use your UpgradeMe Platinum credits
Velocity Platinum cardholders normally receive four complimentary UpgradeMe Platinum credits per membership year: you can check how many you have, and when they expire, via the ‘My Benefits’ section of the Velocity website.
Upgrades are possible from the moment you’ve booked, but must be processed by calling Velocity on 13 18 75 between 8am and 8pm (AEST) Monday to Friday, as they can’t be done online.
The call centre can process upgrades until two hours before a flight’s scheduled departure time – after that, your request can be made at a Virgin Australia lounge or priority check-in desk at the airport, until 30 minutes before departure.
Where you can, it’s best to request your upgrade prior to travel day.
That’s because you’ll be guaranteed full catering on board in business class – whereas those upgrading at short notice will have their meal orders taken last, which could mean no choice over meal, or in rare instances, no meal at all.
How do economy Elevate and Freedom fares compare?
On the fare ladder, Getaway seats are the most affordable tickets in economy – on which UpgradeMe Platinum credits can’t be used – with Elevate sitting above that, and Freedom being the most expensive economy airfares.
On a sample Brisbane-Melbourne flight in early October, here’s how we found the pricing spread for a one-way journey:
- Getaway: $149
- Elevate: $199
- Freedom: $335
- Business Saver: $345
- Business: $395
Given UpgradeMe Platinum credits can now be used on Elevate fares, that means you’d only need to spend $199 on an economy fare to secure a free bump-up to business class, versus $335 when upgrades are only possible from Freedom.
That reprieve is particularly appropriate given the airline’s attractive business class fares as above, where a seat at the pointy end costs just $10 more than for economy Freedom – diminishing the value of the ‘free’ upgrade when used in that way.
Do note, Elevate fares normally carry a $70 change fee (plus any fare difference) for changes made within 30 days of scheduled departure, whereas Freedom tickets only levy a fare difference.
Between now and October when Platinum upgrades are possible from Elevate tickets, however, that’s moot – as under the airline’s Flexible Flying policy, no change fees apply on any fare: only any fare difference when requesting a swap.