Want to fly business class without forking out any extra cash? Read this guide to find out how many Qantas or Velocity points will get you there.
From exclusive lounge access to comfy seats, premium meals and complimentary toiletries, there are many perks to flying business class with Qantas, Virgin or any other airline. But these luxuries come at a cost – business class fares can cost twice as much as economy options (and more in some cases).
If you don’t want to pay the full cost of a business class ticket, or if you want to change your current booking to get these benefits, you can use frequent flyer points to request an upgrade. Here, we look at the Qantas and Virgin Velocity points you need to fly to business class in Australia and around the world.
You can use Qantas points to upgrade both domestic and international tickets on flights where business class is available. The amount of points you need for an upgrade varies depending on the flight and existing fare type. We’ve broken down some options in the tables below.
Qantas points needed for a domestic upgrade to business class
The Qantas Classic Rewards Upgrade service allows you to request an Australian domestic upgrade to business class on eligible Australian domestic flights. Your existing ticket must have a QF flight number and be one of the following classes:
- Classic Flight Reward Economy. These economy tickets are booked using Qantas frequent flyer points.
- Discount Economy. This type of fare covers Red e-Deal fares booked in E, L, N, O, Q, S and V classes, as well as Group fares booked in G class.
- Economy. This type of fare includes Flexi fares booked in B, H, K, M and Y classes.
|Example route||Classic Flight Reward fare (Economy)||Discount Economy tickets||Flexible Economy tickets|
|Melbourne to Sydney||12,000||10,000||5,000|
|Sydney to Brisbane||12,000||10,000||5,000|
|Brisbane to Melbourne||18,000||15,000||7,500|
|Sydney to Perth||26,000||20,000||10,000|
* Note that if you request a Classic Upgrade Reward for an itinerary that includes an international and a domestic leg with the same flight number, this will be treated as an international Classic Upgrade Reward.
Qantas points needed for an international upgrade to business class
Qantas offers international Classic Upgrade Rewards for services with a QF flight number from 1 to 199. You can request the upgrade any time after you have paid for your ticket and received confirmation, up to 24 hours before your flight leaves. The types of fares you can upgrade to business class are:
- Classic Flight Reward Economy. This type of fare applies to economy tickets that are booked using Qantas frequent flyer points.
- Economy. For international flights, these fares are defined as fare classes G, K, L, M, S and V. Note that discount economy E, N, O and Q classes are excluded from this option.
- Flexible Economy. This includes classes B, H and Y for international flights.
- Classic Flight Reward Premium Economy. This type of fare is a premium economy option booked using points.
- Premium Economy or Flexible Premium Economy. This category applies to premium economy tickets booked and paid for with cash. Premium economy is available on all Qantas A380 aircraft and selected B747-400 aircraft.
The following table shows how many points you need to upgrade to business class based on example routes and ticket classes.
|Example route||Classic Flight Reward - Economy||Economy||Flexible Economy||Classic Flight Reward - Premium Economy||Premium Economy or Flexible Premium Economy|
|Melbourne to Los Angeles||100,000||72,000||45,000||67,500||45,000|
|Perth to Singapore||35,000||24,000||15,000||22,500||15,000|
|Sydney to Hong Kong||54,000||40,000||25,000||36,000||25,000|
Bid Now Upgrades
Qantas also has an invitation-only option for ticket upgrades. With Bid Now Upgrades, you could receive an invitation within seven days of your flight.
You then have the opportunity to make an upgrade offer to business class using a combination of Qantas points and money (or just with money). A minimum of 3,000 Qantas points is required for a domestic upgrade and you’ll need at least 5,000 points for an international upgrade. A minimum amount of money is also required depending on the ticket and flight.
Bid Now Upgrades are available up to 24 hours before your flight’s departure. Approval of upgrades through this service is at Qantas’s discretion, and you’ll know of the outcome of your bid between 24 and 12 hours before your flight.
Upgrading to business for a holiday
Donnie is planning a trip to Hong Kong and has booked Qantas flights from Perth, which includes a stopover in Sydney. He originally planned to fly flexible economy, but now wants to use his frequent flyer points to upgrade to business class for the whole trip.
His Perth to Sydney and Sydney to Hong Kong tickets have different flight numbers, which means Donnie will have to upgrade them separately. Using the tables above, Donnie would need the following points for each leg of the journey:
- Perth to Sydney: 10,000 points
- Sydney to Hong Kong: 25,000 points
- Total: 35,000 points
Donnie currently has 40,000 Qantas frequent flyer points, which means he can request his upgrades online by logging into his frequent flyer account, or by calling Qantas on 13 13 13.
Virgin’s Velocity frequent flyer program has several options for business class upgrades using points. The minimum amount of points required varies based on the upgrade option, the miles flown and the type of fare. The following tables cover some of your different options.
Domestic flight upgrades to business class with Velocity points
You can request an upgrade to business class for domestic Virgin Australia flights with a VA flight number when you’ve booked on a Getaway, Elevate or Freedom fare. You can do this through the UpgradeMe Points service, which applies the following point rates depending on where you are flying and the type of ticket you have.
|One-Way Miles||Upgrade from Getaway fare||Upgrade from Elevate fare||Upgrade from Freedom here|
Velocity also provides two other ways to request seat upgrades to business class on domestic flights.
- UpgradeMe Premium Bid. If you’re a Virgin Australia guest travelling on an eligible flight but don’t have enough points for a business upgrade, you can use dollars to place a “bid” for the chance to upgrade to business class.
- UpgradeMe Platinum Member Offer. Velocity Platinum members get four complimentary fare upgrades as part of their membership, which you can choose to use for any eligible flight. Note that you can only upgrade from Freedom fares using this option.
International flight upgrades to business class with Velocity points
All Velocity members booked on a Freedom fare can request an upgrade to business class on eligible international short haul flights (when business class is offered). The flight must be operated by Virgin Australia or Virgin Samoa and have a VA flight number.
If you’re a Gold or Platinum Velocity member, you can also request an upgrade to business on international long haul flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi operated by Virgin Australia with a VA flight number. You’ll need to already be booked on a Freedom, Premium Saver or Premium fare to use this option, as reflected in the table below.
|One-Way Miles (or fare type for international long haul)||Points required|
|International Flexi fare and Premium Saver||45,000|
|International Premium fare||25,000|
Booking a business class fare with Velocity points
The Velocity frequent flyer program also gives you the option of redeeming points for a “Rewards Business Class” ticket. The amount of points required varies based on the mileage and airline you fly with.
|One-Way Miles||Points required to book a business class ticket|
International flight upgrade
Sian is planning a trip from Sydney to Auckland with Virgin Australia and wants to use Velocity points to fly business class.
Sian calculates that it’s approximately 2,147 kilometres to Auckland, or 1,342 miles. Based on the tables above, this type of flight would require the following points for each business class option:
- Rewards Business Class ticket: 38,000 points
- Business class upgrade from Saver ticket: 30,000 points
- Business class upgrade from Flexi ticket: 9,900 points
Sian currently has 20,000 Velocity points, so she decides to book a Flexi fare flight to Auckland and then requests an upgrade to business class. This redemption leaves her with 10,100 Velocity points she can use in the future.
Tips to get enough points to upgrade
- Book business class using “points plus pay”. Virgin Australia also allows you to use a combination of points and cash to pay for business class tickets. For example, a Rewards Business Class ticket from Sydney to Melbourne could cost 18,800 points outright, while “points plus pay” options start from 15,500 points and $21.11. Note that “points plus pay” is not available for all flights and additional fees may apply.
- Consider a frequent flyer credit card with a signup bonus. Many reward credit cards offer bonus points for customers when you sign up and spend a certain amount of money in the first few months. You’ll also earn points for every $1 spent on the account. If you want to get enough points for a business class upgrade and are considering a new credit card, browse the Qantas or Velocity frequent flyer options to see if you can also boost your point balance. Just remember to consider all the features of these cards so that you choose one that will work for you in the long term.
- Shop with frequent flyer program partners. Both Qantas and Velocity have a wide range of program partners that earn you points for your travel and everyday spending. You can maximise your reward earnings by shopping with as many program partners as possible.
- Fly with just one airline. While you may want to get the best fare for all your flights, you’ll get more frequent flyer rewards if you only book tickets through Qantas or Virgin (depending on which frequent flyer program you prefer).
- Consider only upgrading part of your flight. If your travel plans involve connecting flights, you might be able to upgrade to business class using points for just one part of the trip. For example, if you’re travelling from Melbourne to Los Angeles and have a stopover in Sydney, you might be able to fly economy for the domestic flight, but then upgrade to business for the longer, international leg of your journey.
- Pay for a business class ticket. While it’s more expensive to book a business class fare than a standard economy or premium economy fare, you’ll have the chance to earn more frequent flyer points and status credits. That could pay off in the future when you want to upgrade airfares with Qantas or Virgin using points, and may help you achieve gold, silver or platinum status in the frequent flyer program.
Using frequent flyer points to travel in business class with Qantas or Virgin is a great way to get all the perks without the high dollar price. Now you know exactly how many Qantas and Velocity points you need to upgrade your ticket, you can save your points and use them on flights where business class will make all the difference to your trip.
Images: ShutterstockBack to top