Fancy upgrading to Virgin Australia business class on the airline's longest domestic flights – including Sydney-Perth or Melbourne-Perth in 'The Business' aboard Virgin's Airbus A330s – for just $244 per flight?
The secret lies in the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) hotel loyalty program, which allows members to purchase 'Starpoints' which can then be converted into Virgin Australia Velocity points, and used to snag your upgrades.
Under SPG's latest promotion, Starpoints are currently being sold at an impressive 35% discount – on top of which, there's a bonus 5,000 points thrown in if you purchase and then transfer 20,000 points or more, which makes this one nifty trick!
Here's what you need to know.
Using Starpoints for Virgin Australia business class upgrades
Your first step is to purchase a precise 25,000 Starpoints direct from Starwood Preferred Guest at a cost of US$569 (A$730). At any other time of the year, this would normally cost US$875 (A$1,124) – but until March 16, the price is cut by 35%.
Next, convert those 25,000 Starpoints into Virgin Australia Velocity points on a 1:1 basis, which you can do when logged into your account on the Starwood website by choosing Travel -> Transfer Air Miles -> Velocity Frequent Flyer. (If you've just purchased those Starpoints, they may take up to 24 hours to appear in your account, after which you'll be able to convert them.)
Further, every time you convert at least 20,000 Starpoints over to Velocity, Starwood throws in an extra 5,000 Velocity points on top, taking your total haul to 30,000 Velocity points.
That's enough for three one-way upgrades to business class on Virgin Australia's east-west flights – including between Perth and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – when travelling on economy class Freedom fares, being 9,900 Velocity points to upgrade per flight!
If you're normally stuck down the back in economy on those routes, the prospect of paying just $244 extra per flight for a business class upgrade would be welcome news for most – especially on Airbus A330 flights fitted with 'The Business'.
The fine print
As with any great deal, there are always a few hurdles to navigate.
Firstly, Starwood's 35% discount on 'buying points' is on the table until March 16 2018, while the fixed 5,000-point boost for transfers of 20,000 Starpoints (20,000 Velocity points) or more is a permanent fixture of the Starwood program.
In order to buy Starpoints, you'll also need to have been an SPG member for at least 14 days – so if you haven't already joined the free Starwood Preferred Guest program, sign-up right now, and then come back in a couple of weeks to complete your purchase of Starpoints and convert them to Velocity.
Each SPG member is also limited to buying a maximum of 30,000 Starpoints per year: so you can't buy up big to upgrade yourself to business class year-round – and when any Starpoints points are indeed converted to Velocity, they may take up to a week to appear.
Critically, upgrades from economy to business class may not be available on every Virgin Australia flight, so do ensure there's a way to use your Velocity points at a date and time convenient to you before you take advantage of this offer, unless you're happy to keep those points for a rainy day.
Upgrades from lower-priced economy fares also require more points than from higher-priced Freedom tickets as used in the example above, so while this may be a good move for business travellers booked on flexible tickets, those booked on the cheaper economy tickets should make sure the numbers stack up before diving in.
You can learn more about the process of using Velocity points to upgrade to Virgin Australia business class by reading AusBT's Virgin Australia business class upgrade guide.