Virgin Australia: frequent flyer point upgrades for Saver economy tickets

Virgin Australia: frequent flyer point upgrades for Saver economy tickets

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 a senior journalist with Australian Business 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!
 

13 comments

  • johnaboxall

    johnaboxall

    6 Mar, 2014 08:23 am

    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. 

    No member give thanks

  • smit0847

    smit0847

    6 Mar, 2014 08:33 am

    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.

    No member give thanks

  • chrisjrn

    chrisjrn

    6 Mar, 2014 08:56 am

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

    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    6 Mar, 2014 09:30 am

    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. :)

    No member give thanks

  • chrisjrn

    chrisjrn

    6 Mar, 2014 09:39 am

    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.

    No member give thanks

  • Al Glidden

    AlG

    6 Mar, 2014 07:35 pm

    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?

    No member give thanks

  • sagidec

    sagidec

    6 Mar, 2014 09:53 am

    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.

    No member give thanks

  • sagidec

    sagidec

    6 Mar, 2014 09:54 am

    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...

    No member give thanks

  • PLATY

    PLATY

    6 Mar, 2014 10:33 am

    Note points forfeit if cancel < 24 hrs

    No member give thanks

  • agro11

    agro11

    10 Mar, 2014 10:49 am

    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.

    No member give thanks

  • mitchimus

    mitchimus

    10 Mar, 2014 09:40 pm

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

    No member give thanks

  • brett Ray

    BrettRay12

    14 Nov, 2014 03:06 pm

     

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

    No member give thanks

  • brett Ray

    BrettRay12

    14 Nov, 2014 03:05 pm

     

    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.

    No member give thanks

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24 Jul, 2019 05:42 pm

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