Virgin Australia Velocity business class upgrades to Los Angeles

By West1919 | Jul 16, 2017, 04:28 PM
Has anyone had any luck upgrading a Sydney flight to LA  from Freedom to Business? Any advice?
I've noticed next to no availability for the 95,500 point seats, is buying a ticket and upgrading a valid alternative?
Thanks
Poll: Which is better value?
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By MattJelonek | Jul 16, 2017, 04:37 PM
I'm curious too on the availability
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By freshthoughts | Jul 16, 2017, 05:55 PM
most availability for awards opens up within the week of a few days before departure
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By ChrisCh | Jul 17, 2017, 09:20 AM
The availability of upgrades comes from the availability of reward seats: so if you can book a business class seat using your Velocity points (at the standard rate of 95,500 poitns), you can use points to upgrade to business class on the same flight.

However, with upgrades also able to be waitlisted where no availability exists, it's possible that the airline may consider your request closer to departure based on other factors, which may not necessarily include the availability of reward seats (i.e. they could grant your upgrade request without releasing further reward seats).

So, if you can snag an outright booking in business class, it's a great way to secure your seat: otherwise you'll need to play the upgrade game - remembering that points-based upgrades on Virgin's LAX flights are only available to Gold, Platinum and VIP members, not Red or Silver flyers.
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By mcglynp | Jul 17, 2017, 09:56 AM
The question of value is a little bit of a vexed one here.  Assuming you can find a reward seat and your a gold or plat,  you would gain better monetary value for your points by buying the freedom ticket and upgrading. You can do this with the call centre and get the upgrade confirmation instantly.   Additionally you would get status credits and points for the original booking to assist in retaining status.  So the 90K points needed would be offset by the 25 to 30K points you get back dependant on status. If there is no availability,  then as noted you can waitlist from the freedom ticket,  but with no guarantees.   Though feedback seems to suggest that there is a frequent release of availability closer to the date.   Of course if your Red or Silver..  you have only one choice which is to grab the reward if you can find it. 

As for current availability.  I was shocked last week when I secured two J returns to LAX on VA for later in the year.  Speaking with the call centre they were telling me that they have noticed a definite uptick in availability,  so maybe VA have decided that it is better to get people sitting in the PE and J and wanting to do it again by paying $$ than flying with empty cabins as they have been of late. 
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By Jazzop | Jul 17, 2017, 02:49 PM
In the past year, I've flown to the US with VA 3 times return.  For two of the flights I booked 4/5 months out and then looked daily for FF seats to be released so I could upgrade.  Only once did I see a seat available, but that was in Premium (and I took it).  Each other time I submitted my upgrade request and only once did it come through from BNE to LAX.  With the upgrade requests, you find out within 5 days of departure. For the one time I got upgraded, I found out 3 days before.

Interesting to hear the there has been an uptick in availability.... my experiences have demonstrated the opposite.
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By mjward555 | Jul 17, 2017, 03:09 PM
I agree, when I tried to find J reward seats with flexible dates I could not find a single seat, and I was looking the max days in advance. And I think the same is going to apply for the new HKG flights. for my next trip I'm thinking of buying PE and requesting the upgrade. Should provide more status and I might get it cheaper than a freedom Y fare.
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By xtfer | Jul 17, 2017, 03:20 PM
I can only advise on one recent upgrade attempt, as VA Plat I was able to get upgraded on the waitlist five days before. I'm told they do Plat, Paid, Gold, Silver for upgrades, in that order. On the return leg, my flight was cancelled and the remaining flights were then full, so no upgrades for anybody.

If you are hellbent on the seat and can see the reward seat, I'd take it. If not, and you are at least Gold, then hang around for the waitlist.

As an aside, Premium Economy is quite good, and the upgrade cost is the same as a Freedom ticket. The food is the same as J, there's a minibar, personal staff, and enough room to sleep on the seats. If you don't get the upgrade, you are at least fairly comfortable.
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By mcglynp | Jul 17, 2017, 03:38 PM
I agree, when I tried to find J reward seats with flexible dates I could not find a single seat, and I was looking the max days in advance. And I think the same is going to apply for the new HKG flights. for my next trip I'm thinking of buying PE and requesting the upgrade. Should provide more status and I might get it cheaper than a freedom Y fare.

I have had similar experiences on max days reward availability where I find nothing.   The two I got last week were for late November. They were certainly not there when I looked the week prior when first considering the travel. It was the call centre staff that alerted me to their availability when I discussed purchasing and upgrading a PE fare. 

I would agree with xtfer for the difference between PE Saver and Freedom in $ I would be tempted to book PE, as even with the upgrade being identical in terms of point cost,  the extra points and credits from PE will offset if you get the upgrade.  If you do not you are at least in PE. 
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By shebangabang | Jul 17, 2017, 09:48 PM
Just a datapoint, I managed to score a reward seat LAX-MEL in J for travel in August back in March. I'd been looking at using my AA points and needed to this complete as i'd booked SYD-Europe and Europe-USA already. Someone suggested i check Virgin which hadn't even crossed my mind. Found a seat on the exact date I needed and snapped it up.

S
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By Mjudd | Jul 19, 2017, 09:21 AM
I recently flew that leg. I booked a flexi fair and requested an upgrade, however didn't get it even though there was 5 empty J class seats.
I am also a VA Platinum
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By rmvafan | Jul 21, 2017, 12:01 PM
I actually spoke with a very helpful agent at the VA GCC yesterday who gave me interesting insight on this.

Firstly, note the comment above "The availability of upgrades comes from the availability of reward seats: so if you can book a business class seat using your Velocity points (at the standard rate of 95,500 poitns), you can use points to upgrade to business class on the same flight."
This is important.

Availability is usually initially quite tightly limited for confirmed upgrades on long haul. However, you can buy your Freedom eco (or premium eco ticket) and request a points upgrade via the GCC whenever you book.

But what the agent told me next was gold.

Once you've put in your request, you should continue to come back to the website "every 2-3 weeks" and do a search for the same flights. What happens is the Revenue team release business class seats for reward redemption on an ad hoc basis, so once those are released anyone who is eligible can book them for a new redemption ticket.

HOWEVER, their points redemption system ONLY kicks in 5 days before the flight. So if you've just been sitting around waiting, there's a very good chance that the revenue team will have released business rewards seats and they've been snaffled by someone else before the points-redemption system kicks in.

Soooo, the moral of the story is this:
- Book your ticket.
- Request your upgrade.
- Check back every 2-3 weeks to see if business rewards seats have been released.
- If there is a seat available, call the GCC and have them lock in that seat for your points upgrade.

I've been points upgraded several times (without using this technique), but it would seem that this removes some of the uncertainty.
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