Premium economy upgrades are a terrific way to use your Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyer points on the airline's long Boeing 777 flights to Los Angeles.
Points-based upgrades are possible from all flexible economy Freedom fares on these routes, although not from the lower-cost Elevate or Getaway tickets or when travelling on a flight booked using points.
To either destination, you'd need just 18,000 Velocity points for a one-way premium economy upgrade, such as from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Los Angeles.
That’s only around 1,400 Velocity points per hour to relax in a larger seat with improved food, drinks and service, which is a steal!
Just keep in mind that you can only upgrade to premium economy on Virgin Australia's own flights: not with any of its partner airlines such as Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and UK-based Virgin Atlantic.
There's also no premium economy cabin on Virgin Australia's Airbus A330 flights from Melbourne to Hong Kong, nor on Australian domestic flights – just standard economy and business class. If that's where your travels take you, aim for a business class upgrade instead.
Virgin Australia international premium economy upgrades
A key point of Virgin Australia's upgrade process is that upgrades on flights to Los Angeles are solely the domain of Gold and Platinum frequent flyers, so if you're a Silver or Red member of Velocity, you can't use points to migrate into premium economy.
That's different to Qantas, which allows all frequent flyers to request an upgrade on eligible fares, regardless of their tier status.
That said, Qantas doesn’t process international upgrades until closer to departure, whereas Virgin Australia's Gold and Platinum members can secure confirmed upgrades from the moment their flight is booked (even up to a year in advance), provided an upgrade is available on their flight.
Additionally, these top-tier Velocity members can upgrade any travel companions to premium economy who are joining them on the same flight, pending availability at the time of the request.
The availability of upgrades to passengers using points is determined by Virgin Australia on a flight-by-flight basis, as the airline intentionally keeps a number of premium economy seats available for paying passengers.
Even if you can see a premium economy seat available for sale to paying passengers on the same flight, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to upgrade into premium economy from your economy ticket.
When in doubt, contact Virgin Australia before purchasing your economy ticket to confirm whether premium economy upgrades are available on your chosen flight.
Bidding for a Virgin Australia premium economy upgrade
Don’t have enough points to stretch out in premium economy? There’s one last hope – UpgradeMe PremiumBid.
Travellers can bid for a better seat in the next-best cabin – domestically, that’s business class, and internationally, that either premium economy or business class, depending on the route.
Fortunately for lower-tier travellers, upgrade bids are accepted from all passengers on flights to Los Angeles – unlike points upgrades, which are restricted to Gold and Platinum members on the same.
To see what an upgrade could cost on your next booking, visit the UpgradeMe Premium Bid page on the Velocity website.
Here, you can enter how much you’d be willing to pay for a premium economy seat, and lock that figure in – along with your credit card details – up to 72 hours before the flight departs.
Within 24 hours of wheels-up, the airline will assess your bid, and choose to either accept or decline your offer.
If approved, your credit card will automatically be charged with your bid amount – and if not, or if your card payment is declined, you’ll keep your original seat at no added cost.
Our final tips…
Even if you’ve paid for a premium economy upgrade using cash or points, you’ll only earn Velocity points and status credits in line with your original ticket: not at the higher premium economy level.
Also, you won’t be able to upgrade if you’ve already used points to book the flight by way of an award ticket, so if you’re burning some of your points to book your travel, make sure you’re happy to sit in the seat you’ve paid for.
The only exceptions to this rule are the higher-priced Velocity Any Seat bookings (which usually aren't worth the 'cost'), where travellers can upgrade using points or PremiumBid as if they were travelling on a regular paid fare.
Finally, remember that premium economy passengers don’t receive airport lounge access unless they’re also a Gold or Platinum frequent flyer: that's a perk otherwise-exclusive to business class.