Virgin Australia Melbourne-Hong Kong business class upgrade guide

By Chris Chamberlin, March 28 2017

With Virgin Australia’s new flights from Melbourne to Hong Kong now on sale, booking an economy ticket doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be stuck in economy class... business class upgrades are available using either Velocity frequent flyer points or cash.

But not all fares are eligible for points-based upgrades, nor are upgrades always guaranteed: here’s what you need to know before you book your Virgin Australia flight, and how to upgrade that booking once it’s been paid for.

Virgin Australia Melbourne-Hong Kong business class upgrades: the basics

As is the case with Virgin Australia’s flights to Los Angeles, upgrades using Velocity points on Melbourne-Hong Kong are restricted to Velocity Gold and Platinum members only – and even then, can only be requested when travelling on an economy Freedom fare, not the cheaper Getaway or Elevate fares.

(If you're taking a return journey with one flight booked as a Freedom fare and the other as a Getaway or Elevate fare, only the flight booked under a Freedom fare can be upgraded.)

Note also that the complimentary upgrade certificates provided to Velocity Platinum members cannot be used for an upgrade on these flights – those are valid only on domestic flights and journeys closer to home, such as to New Zealand, Fiji and Indonesia.

Velocity Red and Silver members can't use their Velocity points to upgrade to business class on these flights at all, regardless of their fare type.

Use Velocity points to upgrade to business class on Melbourne-Hong Kong

Have that shiny Velocity Gold or Platinum card in-hand and booked yourself on a Freedom fare?

You’ll also need 27,500 Velocity points (per passenger, one-way) for that business class upgrade, which you can request by calling Virgin Australia on 13 18 75 from the moment you book until at least two hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time.

Upgrade to 'The Business' to the USA, UAE from just 25,000 Velocity points...
Upgrade to 'The Business' to the USA, UAE from just 25,000 Velocity points...

Note that Virgin Australia’s own website doesn’t yet display the availability of upgrades (and business class frequent flyer reward seats) on its Melbourne-Hong Kong flights, although searches using ExpertFlyer reveal that upgrades are readily available on most flights to and from Hong Kong – these can be secured over the phone using the number above.

(We’d expect the airline’s website to eventually permit online upgrade requests on this new route, but until then, the contact centre is your friend.)

If an upgrade is available on your flight, you’ll be able to lock it in instantly – and if it’s not, can have your name added to a ‘waitlist’ for consideration closer to departure.

Platinum frequent flyers get priority over Gold-tier members when upgrading via that waitlist, learning of their success (or failure) up to five days before the flight, versus three days for Velocity Gold members.

Points for the upgrade will be deducted from your account, but only if – and when – the upgrade is successful. If no upgrades are available when you call and you luck-out via the waitlist, all of your points stay exactly where they are.

Velocity Gold and Platinum members can also upgrade other travellers on the same booking for the same number of points per flight. These passengers don't need to hold Gold or Platinum status themselves, nor must they be a ‘family member’ such as required for family pooling.

Upgrading to business class via UpgradeMe Premium Bid

If you don’t have Velocity Gold or Platinum status, or are travelling on a fare that’s not upgradeable using Velocity points, the other way to upgrade is via ‘UpgradeMe Premium Bid’.

This system allows travellers on all paid fare types to offer an additional amount of cash for that upgrade, excluding flyers who’ve used Velocity points to book their economy ticket.

Start by visiting the UpgradeMe Premium Bid page on the Virgin Australia website, where you can enter the amount of your offer – or ‘bid’, as the airline names it – within set minimum and maximum amounts. It’s much the same process as for Virgin Australia domestic flights:

Bids can be submitted up until 26 hours before the flight, with the result of your offer advised by email within 24 hours of departure. If your bid is accepted, the credit card you supplied will be charged with the amount of that offer, and if not, you’ll keep your original seat at no added cost.

If your credit card number or expiry date changes between when your offer is submitted and the time of your flight, you’ll need to return to the website and update your bid with your latest details, as a declined credit card transaction means a declined upgrade request.

Virgin Australia business class upgrades: final tips

As with other Virgin Australia flights, travellers who upgrade to business class using either Velocity points or by making an offer/bid will earn frequent flyer points and status credits in line with their original economy fare, rather than at the higher business class rates.

Also, the usual business class baggage allowance does not apply when moving yourself forward via UpgradeMe Premium Bid. Other benefits like lounge access and priority check-in are available, but the bags you can bring with you are also defined by your original ticket.

(This doesn’t apply when using Velocity points for that business class upgrade, in which case the full business class baggage allowance will apply.)

Speaking of Velocity points: if you use points to book your original economy flight to or from Hong Kong – typically called a ‘Reward Seat’ – you won’t be able to upgrade that flight using either points or cash, so only book economy with points if you’re happy to stay there.

Regardless of how you try to upgrade, also keep in mind that Virgin Australia intentionally keeps some business class seats available for last-minute sales and to accommodate those who change their flight plans, so don’t expect every seat in the cabin to be filled with upgraded passengers.

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!

deany83

deany83

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 135

I didn't realise that only gold and platinum can upgrade using points. 

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

It's a restriction that Virgin Australia only places on 'long-haul' international upgrades via Velocity (that's Los Angeles and now Hong Kong, and used to cover Abu Dhabi as well). All other international flights ('short-haul') such as to Indonesia, Fiji, NZ etc. can be upgraded using points by members of all tiers, as can domestic flights. :)

aussiflyer

aussiflyer

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 53

Hopefully the cash bid prices will be sharp! Chris, do you know if they will offer airport cash upgrades like they currently do for Long Haul out of Sydney and Brisbane at the counter?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

If we knew that, it'd have been included in the article.

riley

riley

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

Will be interesting to see if VA / Velocity adopt the same policy of limited (zero) availability for reward upgrades as they do on their other signature routes.

John C

John C

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

08 Aug 2014

Total posts 39

Hate, hate HATE the Air NZ one-class A320 (and soon A321) slum class across the Ditch and I avoid it completely. It is totally grim, basic, cramped air travel with neon-type lighting, school-type regimentation (everybody sits there looking whipped while the meal trays remain uncollected for quite some time and has to cooperate like good little school kids when the rubbish collection comes through). As for a drink? One with your dinner and be grateful. Ask for more and you get the tweezer lips and a searching look to see if you are an alcoholic. Air NZ has always had a cheese-paring, nanny-type aspect to its culture - a Presbyterian primness that is part of the Kiwi psyche. At least though there is a hint that there will be more Air NZ wide-body services with P and J service - but even there you're not free of the wowsers.

jac

jac

22 Jun 2018

Total posts 1

hi chris, I have a economy class seat booked online through third party on a virgin 330 airbus from melbourne to hong kong in mid july. Went to the upgrade bid site on virgin ,plugged in my reference no for booking and appears i can bid for upgrade to business. What sort of min. cash price would I need to pay to likely get business seat. Through seat guru seams only 2 out of 20 seats taken so far . thks

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Hi Jac, we don't provide readers with 1:1 advice. Suggest posting your question in our Community area instead for 'peer support' from other AusBT readers.

jch

jch

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2017

Total posts 53

Will they advise of upgrade availability over the phone before the freedom fare is booked? Although I guess if it's a freedom fare it can be easily changed at no cost to match the availability of the upgrade?

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