Early yesterday Virgin Australia announced some interesting and exciting improvements in regards to upgrades especially for platinum members.
Platinum members of the airline are given 4 complimentary upgrades every membership year which used to be only for domestic flights, this has now changed and can now be used for short haul international flights.
Unfortunately upgrades can not be used for long haul flights to Los Angeles or Abu Dhabi.
Virgin Australia International short haul network (Image – Virgin Australia)
As the map shows upgrades can be used for flights to Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, Dunedin, Christchurch, Nadi, Apia, Rarotonga, Nuku’alofa, Port vila, Honiara, Port moresby, Bali, and Cocos islands.
This is quite an extensive list and 90% of the flights use 737-800 aircraft in a 2-2 configuration.
The seats are comfortable, feature a good menu, 2x 32kg luggage allowance, a samsung tablet with entertainment and of course lounge access. Virgin Australia use Air New Zealand lounges for velocity guests with gold, platinum club status or travelling in business class. All Air New Zealand lounges have or are still getting refurbished and look impressive.
Virgin Australia 737 business class (image – Virgin Australia)
However in peak times VA operate A330 aircraft on flights to Nadi from both Brisbane and Sydney as they need more seats for school holidays. The A330’s have all been reconfigured and feature their business suites which are fantastic.
However if you want to try the new business class product I would highly recommend using the upgrades for flights to Perth as there is a lot more value redeeming for a longer flight.
To successfully upgrade you will have to be booked on a flexible fare in either a Y, B, H, K or L fare. These are the more expensive fares.
To redeem your upgrades you have to ring the velocity phone number on 13 18 75 and ask to redeem a complimentary upgrade. To find availability yourself you have to look for business reward seats and If one is available it almost guarantees you can redeem your upgrade.
Upgrades are only eligible for one sector so Sydney – Brisbane – Auckland would require 2 upgrades as that is 2 sectors.
Upgrades with points have also improved. Anyone with status can upgrade at the lounge desk which has not changed but platinum members can now upgrade at any time of the day which makes a huge difference and is very useful.
Their competitor Qantas does not allow points upgrades 24 hours before departure for all members. But platinum and platinum one members can upgrade at the lounge also.
Hopefully this is a sign of what is to come for the future of frequent flyer programs in Australia. All U.S based airlines use System wide upgrades or similar and it makes the status more worthwhile and valuable if your getting those upgrades frequently.