Virgin Australia's UpgradeMe Premium Bid auction system allows passengers flying in economy to make a cash offer for an upgrade to premium economy and business class.
It's an alternative to usual points-based upgrade – but just how much should you bid for that business class bump-up?
Australian Business Traveller surveyed bids across Virgin Australia's domestic and international routes to bring you this 'cheat sheet' on what to offer for the best chance of success, without paying well above the odds.
The take-out? There's a strikingly good success rate among travellers who bid the absolute minimum or hedge their bets against others doing the same by offering just $5 or $10 more than that rock-bottom figure.
Those minimum bid amounts vary from flight to flight and can go up or down depending on your fare type – but as a guide, here’s where you should expect bidding to start across a range of Virgin Australia domestic and international routes.
Winning upgrade bids on shorter Virgin Australia domestic flights
The lowest successful bids we've encountered were for just $140 on the popular Sydney-Melbourne route and also Adelaide-Melbourne, which happened to be the minimum amount we could offer.
Here's what we've also found to be accepted on other domestic routes, usually representing that minimum offer amount:
- Sydney-Brisbane: $150
- Brisbane-Melbourne: $220
- Sydney-Adelaide: $220
- Brisbane-Adelaide: $220
- Sydney-Gold Coast: $160
- Brisbane-Cairns: $180
- Adelaide-Perth: $150-160
- Perth-Darwin: $190
- Darwin-Brisbane: $290
- Melbourne-Cairns: $245-250
Wherever you're headed, remember that there's never any guarantee that your bid will be successful.
Your chances of an upgrade can do vary from route to route and flight to flight based on a number of factors, but of course, it never hurts to try.
Winning upgrade bids on east-west Virgin Australia domestic flights
You’d naturally expect to pay more for a cross-country upgrade than on any other domestic route, and Virgin Australia’s prices certainly match that expectation.
On the flagship Sydney-Perth route including on flights fitted with ‘The Business’ – Virgin Australia’s latest Airbus A330 business class seats and service – bidding tends to start around $445-450.
AusBT review: Virgin Australia's A330 The Business, Sydney-Perth
On Melbourne-Perth it’s a little lower at $395-$400, while between Brisbane and Perth, we’ve received reports of minimum bids between $340 and $395.
Winning upgrade bids on Virgin Australian international flights
Upgrading to business class using money on Virgin Australia international flights is much the same as on domestic routes.
On Brisbane-Wellington and Gold Coast-Auckland flights, expect to part with at least $220, while bids on the Brisbane-Christchurch route are often accepted from $250, and from $320 on the longer Brisbane-Port Moresby route when travelling on a Saver fare.
AusBT review: Virgin Australia trans-Tasman business class
Across to Los Angeles, upgrades work a little differently: pay for an economy ticket and you can bid for a premium economy upgrade – but to sit in business class, you'll need to buy a premium economy fare to begin with.
From Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles, expect to fork out at least $700 to jump from economy to premium economy and at least $1,000 to move from premium economy to 'The Business', which also includes access to the airline's great inflight bar across the Pacific.
AusBT review: Virgin Australia's 'The Business', Sydney-Los Angeles
Have you tried bidding for an upgrade with Virgin Australia? How much did you offer, and were you successful? Share your experience with other readers in the comment box below!
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter – we're @AusBT