Virgin Australia trials in-lounge business class upgrades on Saver fares

Virgin Australia trials in-lounge business class upgrades on Saver fares

Virgin Australia will soon allow travellers to swap their frequent flyer points for an upgrade to business class when booked on Saver-level economy fares, with a trial kicking off later this month.

Passengers at the airline’s lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast from November 24 through to Friday December 19 are all in with a shot – which includes all Velocity Gold and Platinum flyers, paid-up lounge members, and any guests of the above.

However, there are a few hoops to jump through before 1A lands on your boarding pass… here’s what you need to know.

Upgrading to business class during the trial

If you’re flying during the dates above and have booked a Saver fare, you’ll be able to request an upgrade between three hours and 40 minutes before your flight’s scheduled departure.

Upgrades aren’t guaranteed – there needs to be a frequent flyer award seat available on your chosen flight, and full catering may not be available when you’ve been bumped up at the last minute.

Only five lounges are participating in the trial, so if you’re visiting the lounges in other cities such as Cairns and Adelaide, or are flying out of airports that don’t have a Virgin Australia lounge, last-minute upgrades won’t be available to you.

Of course, you can always call Virgin Australia at least three hours prior to take-off to request a business class upgrade from a Saver fare, while travellers booked on the more expensive Flexi fares can continue to upgrade in all of the Virgin Australia lounges.

Business class upgrades: the fine print

To swap your Velocity points for a business class upgrade in the lounge, you’ll need to be travelling on a Virgin Australia flight with a VA flight number, and you must also have booked the journey through VA rather than one of its partner airlines.

Reservations made via other carriers such as Air New Zealand or Etihad don’t qualify, in which case you’ll be stuck in economy.

The cheapest Saver Lite fares also aren’t eligible for points upgrades, regardless of how the booking was made.

Finally, the four free upgrade certificates given to Velocity Platinum members each year continue to be valid only on Flexi fares – not Saver or Saver Lite tickets.

Also read: Upgrading to Virgin Australia business class from Saver economy tickets

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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!
 

10 comments

  • Opto80

    Opto80

    12 Nov, 2014 01:22 pm

    I didn't realise you couldn't upgrade from a Saver fare in the lounge. I always thought you could. My mistake. But I am sure I have upgraded from Saver to Business a few times in the past in the lounge in Syd and Bris but maybe I was on flexi fare without realising it.  Why only for such a short period of time? 

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  • smit0847

    smit0847

    12 Nov, 2014 03:50 pm

    I also thought you could already do this. Upgrades from Saver fares in advance are such poor value and flexi fares so expensive that I doubt many people bother - its much better value to use your points for a J award seat outright.

    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    12 Nov, 2014 04:30 pm

    VA introduced upgrades on Saver flights back in March, but you had to request them over the phone in advance rather than in the lounge before you depart – with in-lounge upgrades only for Flexi fares.

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  • Darkavid99

    Darkavid99

    14 Nov, 2014 11:12 am

    Chris any idea as to why only 5 lounges are 'participating'?

    Its not like the lounges are individual franchises; this sort of chop and change (Qantas as well) between service offerings in lounges whether it comes to product or food is extremely frustrating!

    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    14 Nov, 2014 11:27 am

    It's a new, three-week trial and something that Virgin Australia has never done before – I imagine there's staff training involved behind the scenes.

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  • blance94

    blance94

    12 Nov, 2014 09:09 pm

    That's going to work so well with catering..... Get ready for those FCNA stickers!

    No member give thanks

  • Dans1988

    Dans1988

    14 Nov, 2014 12:53 pm

    I find point upgrades great for Saver, but also love the abiity to be able to bid for upgrades from all fare types, including Saver Lite. Early this year I upgraded on a new A330 for $390 to Perth on VA, it was amazing

    No member give thanks

  • brett Ray

    BrettRay12

    14 Nov, 2014 03:00 pm

     

    Just my thoughts.

    I would on use this if the points were less than already upgrading using points in advance. I certainly would not use it if catering was not confirmed.

    I love Virgin, I fly a bit and am Platinum witht them. I usualy buy Saver Fares and Upgrade using points.

    Catering.

    On the last 3 flights where I have upgraded weeks in advance using points, I have not had a meal choice, other than the Salmon. I do not eat fish, so all I could get was a Sandwich. The FA was very transparent with me as to why there were no other choices, these had all been take by other passengers on Previous flights. I usually sit in row 2 as there is more Leg Room. From now on it's row 1 for me to Maximise my chance of getting the meal I want. This is a mjor gapi in Virgins J class offering. Let me say If I was paying full fare and didnt get a meal I would not be happy. First world issue, yes, I know.

    Virgin, need to deal with this catering issue, untill then I think that not many will pay full price or use full points to upgrade. A major inconsistency in service. Virgin do lots of things really well, this is not one of them. I have written to them more than once about it.

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  • Darkavid99

    Darkavid99

    14 Nov, 2014 03:15 pm

    Hey Brett, full paid or not if you upgrade its still a business class service and you should get the meal. lately I have had the opposite experience. I have flown 6 business class flights, 2 of them free upgrades due to overselling, one paid flight, one saver upgrade at the airport and two flexi upgrades locked in prior. On every flight not only did I get the meal of choice but I requested and was given a second meal as they had spare. The quality of the food has also gone up as long way as well, its now on par with Qantas.

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  • brett Ray

    BrettRay12

    14 Nov, 2014 03:25 pm

     

    Hey Darkavid99, That's excellent and so glad you got what you wanted and more :-) You got me thinking. If a flight I was on was the first in the AM out, I got the meal choice each time. If it was the second sector, of a meal service style, looks like I didn't. I would only fly Virgin. Love the lounges new and fresh. Thanks to John Borghetti, there are so many innovative things happening there. :-)

    No member give thanks

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23 Jul, 2019 09:11 am

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