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Upgrade using Virgin Points (crowdsourcing info!)

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  • Rhys
    HfP Staff

    Hi all,
    I’m writing an article about upgrading Virgin flights using Virgin Points. I was hoping we have some first hand experience here so that I can give some pricing examples!

    If you’ve done this in the past year or so I’d love to know what you paid, both in terms of cash and points.

    Also, if anyone knows whether redemption seats need to be available in the upgraded cabin?

    TYIA

    AL

    You need redemption seats in the upgraded cabin. In Upper, that’s G and in Premium, that’s P. Upgrades usually consist of a mixture of Virgin Points and cash. I regularly upgrade W, S or H (i.e. flexible or reasonably flexible Premium) to G for 20,000 + £200ish. I’ve recently done (i.e. within the past ten months) this on IAD-LHR, JFK-LHR, JFK-MAN, LAS-LHR and SEA-LHR. You can do it in advance (via calling) or at the desk (although the agent has to see availability in to G or P for them to even start the process).

    This only works on VS-ticketed (i.e. 932 stock), not DL’s 006 stock on VS-marketed flights. Where you can upgrade is a DL-ticketed, VS-operated flight using SkyMiles, but that’s a separate question. You can use VS miles to upgrade DL-operated services so long as the PNR was VS-ticketed and the flight is VS-marketed.

    Rhys
    HfP Staff

    Fantastic, thanks. Can you provide the exact details for a couple of them – say JFK, SEA and LAS? Points & cash?

    AL

    May ’22, IAD-LHR from H to G. £232.79, 23,700.
    Feb ’22, JFK-LHR from W to G. £79.95. 21,500.

    LAS will take me a little longer to dig out. I think it was slightly higher in points and similar in cash. Will update shortly.

    davefl

    Oct 21 MAN-JFK-MAN CC Upgrade voucher PE-UC £647.19 47.4k points (subsequently cancelled and refunded without issue due to US still being closed)

    May 22/Jun 22 MAN-ATL-MAN CC upgrade voucher PE to UC £966.77 45k points

    Yes it’s gone up that much!!

    Rhys
    HfP Staff

    Oct 21 MAN-JFK-MAN CC Upgrade voucher PE-UC £647.19 47.4k points (subsequently cancelled and refunded without issue due to US still being closed)

    May 22/Jun 22 MAN-ATL-MAN CC upgrade voucher PE to UC £966.77 45k points

    Yes it’s gone up that much!!

    Sorry, you paid £966 just to upgrade from PE to UC?! how many people!

    Rhys
    HfP Staff

    May ’22, IAD-LHR from H to G. £232.79, 23,700.
    Feb ’22, JFK-LHR from W to G. £79.95. 21,500.

    LAS will take me a little longer to dig out. I think it was slightly higher in points and similar in cash. Will update shortly.

    Thanks. I assume this is one-way only?

    AL

    Oct 21 MAN-JFK-MAN CC Upgrade voucher PE-UC £647.19 47.4k points (subsequently cancelled and refunded without issue due to US still being closed)

    May 22/Jun 22 MAN-ATL-MAN CC upgrade voucher PE to UC £966.77 45k points

    Yes it’s gone up that much!!

    Sorry, you paid £966 just to upgrade from PE to UC?! how many people!

    OLCI will occasionally offer you a ridiculous offer to put you in to something like I (i.e. full-flex UC), whereas mine are done with a human being at the desk.

    AL

    Yes, they’re all one-way (I rarely upgrade transatlantic from the UK because bulkhead Premium on 789 suits me fine, and I prefer Premium on 351 versus UC suites). I did do a LAX return upgrade, but I can’t find any details about that, so I think it was most a cash only affair at OLCI.

    davefl

    Oct 21 MAN-JFK-MAN CC Upgrade voucher PE-UC £647.19 47.4k points (subsequently cancelled and refunded without issue due to US still being closed)

    May 22/Jun 22 MAN-ATL-MAN CC upgrade voucher PE to UC £966.77 45k points

    Yes it’s gone up that much!!

    Sorry, you paid £966 just to upgrade from PE to UC?! how many people!

    Just 1. I paid the PE points and you then have to pay full taxes and charges for the UC ticket

    NorthernLass

    That was a return though, at least?! I’m starting to think the best use of the upgrade voucher is going to be on a cash booking at some point. Then try and use our points on Delta domestic US routes if that’s possible and the taxes are similar to AA.

    davefl

    Oct 21 MAN-JFK-MAN CC Upgrade voucher PE-UC £647.19 47.4k points (subsequently cancelled and refunded without issue due to US still being closed)

    May 22/Jun 22 MAN-ATL-MAN CC upgrade voucher PE to UC £966.77 45k points

    Yes it’s gone up that much!!

    Sorry, you paid £966 just to upgrade from PE to UC?! how many people!

    OLCI will occasionally offer you a ridiculous offer to put you in to something like I (i.e. full-flex UC), whereas mine are done with a human being at the desk.

    That wasn’t OLCI, that was a straightforward booking via the call centre. I found outbound and return legs that had PE and UC availability for points on the days I needed, called up and booked it.

    degsy

    Evening Rhys, it was a little longer than a year ago but we upgraded four of us from PE to UC one-way from MAN to MCO. This was during check-in at the airport – total cost was £40 pp plus 115k miles. Hope that helps.
    (By way of footnote, the miles were never taken. Result.)

    degsy

    A second occasion was OCT21, flying back from Antigua to LHR. Again one-way PE to UC during check-in at airport. Just for one person this time – cost was £29 & 40k miles (which were taken this time).

    Jim Utd

    LHR to LAX Nov 5th to 13th this year. Paid cash 2 x premium about £750 each. Used two credit card vouchers to upgrade both of us to Upper each way. Nil points, £236.59 each extra in tax. There had to be award availability for both of us both ways in Upper to do this.

    LHR to CPT Feb next year. Buy one get one free on reward redemptions with cc voucher so 115000 points between us and £866.26 each in tax for Upper both ways.

    Just booked LHR-BOS on the first neo flight. Despite what your article says Delta Gold does not get free Preferred Premium Seat selection. £55 later… checked on virgin site and it’s only Virgin Gold, Delta Diamond and Platinum.

    AL

    DL Gold is a middle of the pack status that, it appears, VS Gold maps to. Or, in other words, if you’re a regular VS flyer, you are arguably better off collecting on DL instead of VS, especially if you can get the VS vouchers via the CC. Annoying, but given the JV, it is what it is.

    Jim Utd

    Yes completely agree, status so much easier to get on Delta. OH is platinum and I will be after next trip. Silver with VS which gets you very little but the cost of getting gold is ridiculous compared to getting it with DL

    Rhys
    HfP Staff

    LHR to LAX Nov 5th to 13th this year. Paid cash 2 x premium about £750 each. Used two credit card vouchers to upgrade both of us to Upper each way. Nil points, £236.59 each extra in tax. There had to be award availability for both of us both ways in Upper to do this.

    LHR to CPT Feb next year. Buy one get one free on reward redemptions with cc voucher so 115000 points between us and £866.26 each in tax for Upper both ways.

    Just booked LHR-BOS on the first neo flight. Despite what your article says Delta Gold does not get free Preferred Premium Seat selection. £55 later… checked on virgin site and it’s only Virgin Gold, Delta Diamond and Platinum.

    That’s what Virgin told us!

    Rhys
    HfP Staff

    Thanks everyone. So collating all the one-way upgrades, I have:

    New York to London, from Premium to Upper Class: 21,500 points and £79.95
    Washington DC to London, from Premium to Upper Class: 23,700 points and £232.79
    Manchester to Orlando, from Premium to Upper Class: 28,700 points and £40
    Antigua to London, Premium to Upper Class: 40,000 points and £29

    AL – the Washington DC flight seems an anomaly here – any idea what drove the cost so high?

    Degsy – your Antigua pricing seems off. According to the Virgin upgrade chart, it should only cost 28,700 or 33,700 points for a one-way upgrade from the Caribbean?

    Rhys
    HfP Staff

    Oct 21 MAN-JFK-MAN CC Upgrade voucher PE-UC £647.19 47.4k points (subsequently cancelled and refunded without issue due to US still being closed)

    May 22/Jun 22 MAN-ATL-MAN CC upgrade voucher PE to UC £966.77 45k points

    Yes it’s gone up that much!!

    Dave – do you know how much you originally paid for the PE tickets?

    degsy

    Rhys: I just checked my account and it was definitely 40k. If you look at the Virgin redemption chart, points cost to Caribbean is 55k in PE & 135k in UC (peak return prices), so presumably the 40k it cost me was calculated as half of the difference? So I was potentially overcharged by a few 000 pts.

    Rhys also, Mrs Degsy has just informed/reminded me the MCO upgrade was actually quite a while ago pre-Covid, so not sure if that’s still a useful data point for you.

    davefl

    Oct 21 MAN-JFK-MAN CC Upgrade voucher PE-UC £647.19 47.4k points (subsequently cancelled and refunded without issue due to US still being closed)

    May 22/Jun 22 MAN-ATL-MAN CC upgrade voucher PE to UC £966.77 45k points

    Yes it’s gone up that much!!

    Dave – do you know how much you originally paid for the PE tickets?

    No, it was all one transaction by phone. Just gave a flight number, and that I wanted to book PE with upgrade to UC with voucher, so I just got quoted the PE miles and the UC taxes as expected.

    AL

    AL – the Washington DC flight seems an anomaly here – any idea what drove the cost so high?

    Who be I to question the logic of revenue management teams? It may well be that I was booked in to a higher class than G – there’s nothing stopping them doing that, after all…

    Bob

    LHR – JNB return, paid 67.5k + £541.66 in Premium. Paid £304 to upgrade to UC using voucher.

    Rhys
    HfP Staff

    Rhys: I just checked my account and it was definitely 40k. If you look at the Virgin redemption chart, points cost to Caribbean is 55k in PE & 135k in UC (peak return prices), so presumably the 40k it cost me was calculated as half of the difference? So I was potentially overcharged by a few 000 pts.

    Rhys also, Mrs Degsy has just informed/reminded me the MCO upgrade was actually quite a while ago pre-Covid, so not sure if that’s still a useful data point for you.

    Hmmm – Virgin actually has a separate reward chart for upgrades with points: https://www.virginatlantic.com/eu/en/flying-club/points/spend-points/upgrade-with-points.html

    For the Caribbean it should be 57,400 or 67,400 return depending on peak/off-peak…

    LHR – JNB return, paid 67.5k + £541.66 in Premium. Paid £304 to upgrade to UC using voucher.

    Thanks Bob, could data point. When was this?

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