Virgin Australia: frequent flyer point upgrades for Saver economy tickets

By Chris Chamberlin, March 6 2014

Virgin Australia now allows domestic travellers on its low-cost Saver fares to upgrade to business class using their Velocity Frequent Flyer points.

Points-based upgrades have previously been available only on the most expensive economy Flexi fares.

The number of Velocity points needed for a business class bump-up on a Saver ticket varies according to the distance of your flight.

Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney-Brisbane and Melbourne-Adelaide flights all fall under the 600 mile mark, so a seat at the pointy end can be yours for just 10,000 points (about twice as many points as you'd need to upgrade from a Flexi fare).

That's not bad value when you consider the typically low cost of your original Saver fare on those routes plus getting lounge access into the bargain, if you're not already a lounge-worthy Velocity Gold or Platinum member.

It's also in the same ballpark as the number of Qantas points needed for a similar upgrade on the Red Roo.

A business class upgrade on mid-range flights including Melbourne-Brisbane and Brisbane-Adelaide can be yours for 17,500 points from a Saver fare, more than double a Flexi upgrade of 7,400 points.

Those two brackets of 10,000 and 17,500 point upgrades will probably prove appealing to corporate travellers flying on work-sponsored Saver fares.

Doing a transcontinental trek to or from Perth on Virgin's Airbus A330 Coast to Coast service?

We don't blame you for wanting to get an upgrade to those comfortable international-grade seats, but it'll cost you 30,000 points each way. That's a staggering three times the 9,900 asking price for upgrading from a Flexi ticket.

The transcon trap

The 'value' of a Saver upgrade on Sydney-Perth, Melbourne-Perth or Brisbane-Perth will have frequent flyers scratching their heads once you compare the cost of Saver fares against redeeming points on a business class award seat.

Browsing for flights on Tuesday March 18 we were able to find Saver fares on VA464 available for $359:

However, on that same flight, Velocity members could redeem 33,800 points for a confirmed seat in business class (along with a small sum to cover taxes and surcharges):

So you've got a choice: spend $359 plus 30,000 Velocity points for upgrading from a Saver fare (with your business class seat not guaranteed), or buy that business class seat outright for $27.70 plus 33,800 points.

We know which one we'd choose!

For more details, visit Virgin Australia's UpgradeMe Points page.

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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!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 736

It works if your company has a BFOD policy, at least the passenger would have a chance of using their own points for an upgrade. 

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

It's almost as if Virgin can't sell 8 J seats on each 737 flight. This joins the 467 other ways you can fly J without paying full price for it.

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

Chris, unlike Qantas, Virgin's points upgrades are confirmed from the time of booking. Or at least they were a month ago.

chrisjrn,

The upgrades are indeed confirmed in advance (as are many Qantas domestic upgrades), although upgrades are not guaranteed to be available simply by buying a Saver fare.

On the other hand, outright Velocity redemptions are confirmed into business class at the time of making the reservation, which is what I was trying to get across. :)

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

Upgrade stocks are the same as reward seat stocks, so if you can reserve a reward seat, you can buy a saver and redeem an upgrade.

AlG
AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

chrisrjn: so you're suggesting checking if a reward seat is available, and if so then booking a Saver fare and using points for the upgrade? Doesn't seem to make much sense to me at least on east-west routes, as Chris wrote you would be better off buying a business reward seat?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 246

I suppose it depends on whether one really wants those great seats. I know I do but I value the miles more with being able to redeem lots of long haul Y seats and getting to my destination without spending much more than paying flight taxes instead.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 246

I've had free upgrades before in the past.

Hopefully the free upgrade fairy visits me every time I'm at the check in counter...

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

Note points forfeit if cancel < 24 hrs

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Mar 2014

Total posts 1

Another advantage of Saver upgrades is the accumulation of status credits you won't get with a straight Business Reward flight.  But overall I think the Saver upgrade represents terrible value.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 210

WOW only 30%  more points than a red-e deal upgrade on QF transcontinental flights.

14 Nov 2014

Total posts 6

 

It would be interesting to compare how the points were accrued. I find the Virgin cards are better value than competitors. Just my thoughts.

14 Nov 2014

Total posts 6

 

My Thoughts.

If a 3rd Party has paid for your ticket in Economy, It makes perfect sense to me to use my points to upgrade.


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