Virgin Australia rolls out Delta upgrades with Velocity points

Velocity Frequent Flyer members can now upgrade to business class on Delta flights for as few as 3,900 Velocity points.

By Chris Chamberlin, November 26 2019

Members of Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program can now upgrade to business class on selected Delta Air Lines flights using their Velocity points.

Available on many US domestic routes, the ability to upgrade with points is also extended to some Delta flights between the United States and Mexico, as well as between Sydney and Los Angeles on Delta-operated flights.

However, there’s an important catch: to be in with a chance at upgrading, travellers must have booked their Delta flight on a Virgin Australia (VA) codeshare flight number – which can only be done in connection with a journey to or from Australia on the same ticket, which must also be issued by Virgin Australia.

Booking standalone flights with Delta on their usual DL flight number means you won’t be able to upgrade to business class using Velocity points.

The rules differ slightly between upgrades on US domestic and Mexico flights, and upgrades between Sydney and Los Angeles: here’s what you need to know.

Using Velocity points to upgrade Delta’s US domestic, Mexico flights

Which Delta flights are eligible?

When it comes to upgrading short flights on Delta, these are primarily available on services to and from Los Angeles – lining up with Virgin Australia and Delta flights to and from Australia – as well as a small number of routes that don’t touch LA, instead out of Atlanta, Denver, Detroit and Houston.

For example, Delta’s longer flights from Los Angeles to the likes of New York, Boston and Honolulu can be upgraded with Velocity points, as can flights from LA to places like San Francisco, Seattle and Atlanta.

Joining those, Atlanta-Cancun, Detroit-New York, Houston-Salt Lake City, and others. For a full list, consult the table of city pairs on Virgin Australia’s website, remembering that upgrades are only possible when booked on a VA flight number.

How many Velocity points are needed to upgrade on Delta?

As with upgrading Virgin Australia flights using Velocity points, the number of points required to upgrade on Delta is based on the distance of the flight, as well as the fare type, with shorter routes and higher-priced fares requiring fewer points, and longer flights and cheaper tickets commanding more.

Here’s how many points you’ll need for your upgrade to ‘Delta One’ or ‘Delta First Class’, both of which Delta uses to brand its better-than-economy cabin, as Australian travellers would otherwise know as business class:

Flight distance in miles

Example route

Upgrading from Getaway or Elevate fare

Upgrading from Freedom fare

400 or less

LAX to San Francisco

5,900 Velocity points

3,900 Velocity points

401 to 600

LAX to Salt Lake City

7,900 Velocity points

5,900 Velocity points

601 to 1,100

LAX to Seattle

11,900 Velocity points

9,900 Velocity points

1,101 to 2,000

LAX to Atlanta

14,900 Velocity points

12,400 Velocity points

2,000 to 3,000

LAX to New York City

19,900 Velocity points

14,900 Velocity points

It’s not possible to upgrade on a flight that was already booked using Velocity points or other frequent flyer points, although such bookings would usually carry a Delta (DL) flight number in any case, rather than a VA codeshare.

Use Velocity Points to upgrade to Delta One on the flagship Los Angeles-New York route, when booked as a VA codeshare.
Use Velocity Points to upgrade to Delta One on the flagship Los Angeles-New York route, when booked as a VA codeshare.

ET review: Delta One Boeing 767 business class, LAX-JFK

Upgrade rates are calculated per sector, so for passengers taking more than one flight, even on the same day – Los Angeles to Atlanta (1,946 miles), for instance, followed by Atlanta to Cancun (880 miles) – each flight would need to be upgraded separately, at its own points cost.

It’s also worth noting that the complimentary flight upgrades that Velocity provides to its Platinum members every year cannot be traded in for a Delta upgrade: these remain valid on eligible Virgin Australia flights only.

Finally, Velocity shares that the points rates above are “introductory prices” valid for upgrades processed until late April 2020 – after which, the figures may change.

How to confirm your Velocity upgrade on Delta

These upgrades can’t be processed online, so you’ll need to call the Velocity Membership Contact Centre on 13 18 75 (or +61 2 8667 5924 if calling from overseas) between 7:30am and 10:30pm Sydney time each day to request your upgrade.

You can request an upgrade from the moment your codeshare Delta booking has been finalised with Virgin Australia – possible up to 11 months before departure – until 72 hours before you fly, after which, upgrading with Velocity points is no longer available.

Upgrades on Delta are subject to a business class reward seat being available to Velocity members on that flight. In other words, if your flight could have been booked outright in business class using Velocity points, your upgrade can be confirmed. If not, you can’t be upgraded.

As Delta reward flights can be booked via the Velocity website, an easy trick will be to search for your chosen flight as a ‘Points + Pay’ booking on the Velocity site. If, as a result of that search, you observe that the same flight you’ve paid for is open for booking in business class using Velocity points, call to secure your upgrade.

These points-based upgrades on Delta flights within the US and to Mexico are available to Velocity Frequent Flyer members of all tiers, including Red, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and VIP.

Other rules when upgrading Delta flights via Velocity

When travelling on a Delta flight that’s been upgraded using Velocity points, Velocity members will continue to earn Velocity points and status credits in line with the original economy class ticket they purchased: mirroring what currently happens when upgrading on Virgin’s own flights.

For example, a Velocity member who upgrades an economy class Getaway fare to business class on Delta will earn points and status credits as per the usual economy Getaway rates for their flight, not at the higher business class rates.

Travellers who change or cancel a Delta flight which had been upgraded using points will also incur a fee of $35 or 4,500 Velocity points, in addition to any cancellation fees and penalties as levied based on the original fare type purchased.

The rules governing flight changes and cancellations also remain based on the fare rules of the original ticket – so upgrading with Velocity points doesn’t transform an inflexible ticket into a fully-flexible fare, for instance.

Using Velocity points to upgrade Delta’s Sydney-LAX flights

Exclusively available to Velocity Gold, Platinum and VIP-tier frequent flyers, upgrading using Velocity points is also now possible to both premium economy (Premium Select) and business class (Delta One) on Delta’s daily Sydney-Los Angeles flights, when booked as a VA codeshare.

Settle into a private suite in Delta One from Sydney to LAX, upgraded using Velocity points.
Settle into a private suite in Delta One from Sydney to LAX, upgraded using Velocity points.

ET review: Delta One Suites, Sydney-Los Angeles

On these flights, upgrades are only possible from the highest-priced economy Freedom fares, and from premium economy tickets – not from Getaway or Elevate economy fares.

Here’s how many points you’ll need:

Purchased fare type

Upgrading to

Velocity points required

Economy Freedom (Y, B, H, K)

Delta Premium Select

18,000 Velocity points

Economy Freedom (Y, B, H, K)

Delta One

45,000 Velocity points

Premium Saver (O)

Delta One

45,000 Velocity points

Premium (R, W)

Delta One

25,000 Velocity points

Again, these upgrades can only be processed by calling the Velocity Membership Contact Centre, are subject to having a reward seat available to Velocity members in the desired cabin (Premium Select or Delta One), and can be confirmed from the time of booking until 72 hours before departure.

The fees for changing or cancelling an upgraded flight, and the rules regarding earning points and status credits are the same as with other, shorter Delta flights upgraded using Velocity points.

Finally, it’s worth noting that these Velocity upgrades on Delta’s Sydney flights cost the same number of points as to upgrade one of Virgin Australia’s own flights from Australia to LAX, which are similarly restricted to Velocity Gold frequent flyers and above.

Flight upgrades using Velocity points are not available on Delta routes other than those covered above. London-New York, for example, cannot be upgraded using Velocity points.

Complimentary upgrades to Delta Comfort+ remain available

While this is the first time Virgin Australia’s Velocity members have been able to upgrade to Delta premium economy and business class, Velocity Silver, Gold and Platinum frequent flyers have long enjoyed complimentary, space-available upgrades to Delta Comfort+.

Comfort+ is still economy, but with extra legroom on board, a higher boarding priority, and on some flights, complimentary drinks and snacks when otherwise chargeable in ‘regular’ economy.

These complimentary upgrades remain available, with this latest development merely allowing Velocity members to confirm an upgrade to premium economy or business class from the time of booking, as opposed to taking their chances on snagging an extra legroom economy seat at check-in.

As such, upgrades from economy to Delta Comfort+ are not possible using Velocity points, so members hoping for a complimentary Comfort+ upgrade won’t be beaten to it by a fellow Velocity member cashing in their points, as these remain free of charge, subject to availability.

Also read: Using Velocity points to book Delta Air Lines flights

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 117

Velocity has always been so good for redemptions on its own aircraft, but when it comes other carriers, the rules are so complex. I hope the CEO gets this and makes some changes where everything can be done online (reducing the need for call centre staff) and also making it fully reciprocal. Why not offer different point values for DL vs VA codeshare, instead of only offering it for VA codeshares.

I imagine this is Virgin's way of dipping its toes into the water with partner upgrades, as it's the first time they've ever done this with a partner airline. Back when Virgin originally launched upgrades on its own flights, there were all sorts of requirements about ticket numbers, travel agent and corporate vs direct bookings and so on, which were eventually relaxed. We could well see this with Delta in the future as the partnership continues to grow – but equally, Velocity may view this as a new way of incentivising passengers to book their Delta flights through VA, rather than direct with Delta, because the number of status credits earned is generally the same between the two options, so the potential of being able to upgrade could help swing travellers towards booking more VA codeshares. Time will tell!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Sep 2017

Total posts 25

Very timely and very welcome. The only outstanding item remains is to roll it out throughout the rest of the Delta network. There was an article about the potential to roll it out with Virgin Atlantic and that will be a massive boost to Velocity Frequent Flyers. As well as allowing upgrades on Singapore Airlines too. Can't wait. This is really exciting!


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