Virgin Australia unlocks 'waitlisting' for business class upgrades

By Chris Chamberlin, November 18 2015

Virgin Australia’s Velocity members can now register their interest in using Velocity frequent flyer points to secure a premium economy or business class upgrade where one isn’t already available on their chosen flight.

Known as ‘waitlisting’ in industry terms, it allows members to have their upgrade automatically confirmed closer to departure (where commercial capacity allows), rather than the previous process which required guests to constantly re-check their booking to see if upgrades became available.

Dubbed ‘UpgradeMe Points Request Waitlist’ by Virgin Australia, it’s similar to the process Qantas employs for frequent flyers on its own domestic flights, in that if an upgrade is available it can be immediately locked-in, and if not, travellers can file a request and find out closer to departure.

UpgradeMe Points Request Waitlist: the basics

When a frequent flyer points upgrade isn’t available via the ‘manage my booking’ section of the Virgin Australia website or via the call centre, you’ll now be given the option to join the upgrade waitlist to increase your chances closer to departure.

That doesn’t mean your waitlisted upgrade is a ‘sure thing’ or that Virgin Australia will process upgrade requests until every seat in business class (and premium economy on longer flights) is full – it simply means that the airline will review the possibility before wheels-up.

Upgrade requests can be filed on all Virgin Australia domestic flights from the moment you make your booking right up until four hours before departure when travelling on Saver and Flexi fares, and on international short-haul flights (including to New Zealand and Fiji) when booked on Flexi fares.

Waitlist for an upgrade to The Business on your next Sydney-Perth flight...
Waitlist for an upgrade to The Business on your next Sydney-Perth flight...

On Virgin Australia’s longer flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi (although not the return Abu Dhabi-Sydney leg), Gold and Platinum members can waitlist for a premium economy upgrade only on Flexi economy fares, and for business class from Premium, Premium Saver and economy Flexi fares.

Points upgrades and waitlisted upgrades aren’t available on Virgin Australia’s codeshare partners such as Delta and Etihad, although the number of points needed when upgrading via a waitlist is no more – but no less – than for a standard, confirmed upgrade.

UpgradeMe Points Request Waitlist: processing order

Virgin Australia will begin assessing – and where possible, approving – waitlisted upgrade requests up to five days before each flight’s scheduled departure, with top-tier frequent flyers given the highest priority.

Upgrade requests from Velocity Platinum members will be processed from 120 hours before departure, and up to 73 hours in advance for Velocity Gold flyers.

However, a Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that ‘UpgradeMe Premium Bid’ requests from all members are next in line at 72 hours before departure, processed before points requests from Silver and Red frequent flyers.

Should frequent flyer upgrades still be available after any cash offers have been accepted via the Premium Bid system, points upgrades from Silver and Red members would then be considered within 48 hours of departure.

Final tip: Waitlisting doesn’t mean your upgrade will automatically clear if and when a confirmed frequent flyer upgrade becomes available on your flight ahead of the 120-hour window, so it still pays to check back periodically and to jump on a confirmed upgrade if one pops up.

For more information, head to the Virgin Australia website.

Also read: Virgin Australia business class upgrade guide

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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!

deany83

deany83

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 135

UpgradeMe Points Request Waitlist - what an extremely long name. Surely 'The Waitlist' would be more appropriate.

Now they just have to do something about all those random flights that have virtually no one in the business cabin. One flight from CBR to ADL it was empty until they finally let the girl with the broken leg sit there mid-flight.

johnaboxall

johnaboxall

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 735

It is more cost-effective to have an empty J cabin than have one person in there, especially if they're paying with points.

However if J is say 4/8 or higher  then waitlisting a couple of WPs into J costs only a little extra in terms of catering, and VA have two happier WPs.

This waitlist is a clever way for revenue management to help reduce overall points balance and increase customer satisfaction. 

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1133

Virgin Australia introduces waitlisting. Groundbreaking.

deanr

deanr

04 May 2015

Total posts 231

That should read "Virgin Australia finally introduces waitlisting", but good to know that it's there... was getting tired of finding no upgrades available online and chancing it in the lounge with no catering assured: at least now I know I'll get fed!

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

"Final tip: Waitlisting doesn’t mean your upgrade will automatically clear if and when a confirmed frequent flyer upgrade becomes available on your flight ahead of the 120-hour window, so it still pays to check back periodically and to jump on a confirmed upgrade if one pops up."

So what's the point of wait listing????

There is integrity in a wait list system only when people are assured those on a wait list  are prioritised, in line with upgrade priority rules, for upgrades when upgrade availability opens up! 

highflyer

highflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 302

Exactly. What's the point of a wait list then if you have to keep going back to check?!

Juliusgrafton

Juliusgrafton

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 1

About time. I almost went nuts calling every day prior to my last LAX flight to try to snag an upgrade. The waitlist option will save them call centre time, and will make me a happier Plat!

Tracie

Tracie

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 46

Tried this option last week - no success. 

Am on a waitlist for an upgrade BNE-LAX return next April. No seats sold in business on flight over with no upgrades available, guess they don't offer upgrades anymore on the long haul for Platinum members.

Virgin is beginning to feel like Qantas - points sitting there is no use and no value......

Paulkai

Paulkai

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 7

Tried this today....got donuts...no notification of yes or no......

went to service desk to see what was going on staff didn't really know how it worked..

So I sat in 25f next to the man with the extension seat belt and BO...thrilled!

Sovereign

Sovereign

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2014

Total posts 3

Spoke to the VA plat contact centre team yesterday and they were very fuzzy on this program. Main gap was the upgrade priority order - they told me it's a first in best dressed situation. Explained that totally undermined the whole concept of status in their loyalty program. Definitely agree with some previous comments about difficulty securing upgrades. 


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