Virgin Australia business class upgrades: how much should you bid?

By Chris Chamberlin , July 25 2016
Virgin Australia business class upgrades: how much should you bid?

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.

Also read: How Virgin Australia's business class upgrade auctions work

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.

Book an economy ticket, upgrade to business class with a cash bid...
Book an economy ticket, upgrade to business class with a cash bid...

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.

Seat yourself in business class across the ditch or when heading north...
Seat yourself in business class across the ditch or when heading north...

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!

Also read: Virgin Australia business class upgrade guide

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter – we're @AusBT

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!

04 May 2015

Total posts 249

Did this on a Melbourne-Brisbane flight maybe a year ago, was a steal at $200 which included lounge access too.

These days the least you can bid on that route always seems to be $220 though, as you say.

Also had a friend from Perth visit me recently using the free flights that come with their Velocity Amex. Apparently they got upgraded for $400 on the way over on one of the A330s with the new seats, must have been nice!

this. If you have a flexi fare though it might be better value to just upgrade with points or to use one of the free platinum upgrades if you have them.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Jun 2013

Total posts 26

Last year on CNS-SYD successful on a $185 bid (min $180) , on a $125 Saver Fare ....Bargain !!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Jul 2016

Total posts 1

Have jsut had an upgrade confirmed on Perth to Melb tomorrow afternoon.  Bid just above the minimum bid - my bid was $450. Had purchased a Flex Economy fare

02 Aug 2016

Total posts 12

your figures were spot on. I just bid $160 for flights from gold coast to Sydney return and was successful on both. that's a bargain

16 Jul 2018

Total posts 1

If a bid is successful, do you still receive the full amount of Status Points for the upgraded tier, or only receive the Status for the original paid tier?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2017

Total posts 32

The original ticket Leeroy. Well that is what I've only received anyway.

10 Aug 2018

Total posts 1

Hi all. I have a successful bid this month for Brisbane to Melbourne sector for the bare minimum price 115 AUD per passenger. There were 3 passengers + infant on my ticket.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

22 Apr 2019

Total posts 1

@bjain did you have to pay for the infant? Or just full paying passengers?

15 May 2019

Total posts 1

Successful on a Sydney to Melbourne flight with a minimum bid required of $100 and I bid $105.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2018

Total posts 4

I was wondering if you are travelling with a group can you upgrade just one person from the group of three let's say.

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 108

That's not possible unless you phone up and ask to split the one person away onto a separate reservation. Then they can upgrade themself.


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