How I won Virgin Australia's Business Class upgrade auction

How I won Virgin Australia's Business Class upgrade auction

I recently spent the week on the Gold Coast for a little business and a short holiday with my wife, Monique. For the flight back home to Newcastle—the best place to live in the world—I received an invitation from Virgin Australia to bid for a business class upgrade.

Never one to miss a deal, I seized the opportunity to surprise my wife and placed the lowest bid available. As luck would have it, our upgrade was confirmed.

But was it just luck that we scored the upgrade, or was there something more to it?

Peppers at Salt Kingscliff
It was hard to leave the pool behind.

How to bid for an upgrade with Virgin Australia

Email screenshot Virgin Australia

I’d been at a business summit on the Gold Coast and had been staying at Peppers at Salt in Kingscliff, just south of the New South Wales border. It had been a long, but very worthwhile week. My wife had come with me, although she didn’t attend the summit.

After the summit, we got to go and visit my brother and his wife, and for the first time, we met our beautiful new niece, which was amazing.

We had a great, and really relaxing time hanging out on the Gold Coast on the weekend. When it came time to prepare to head home, we were feeling good.

I always like to check into my flights ahead of time as it takes a bit of stress off and you don’t have to rush. This time when I checked into our economy seats, we were offered a free upgrade to premium economy, flying Brisbane to Newcastle.

It’s only a short flight—about an hour long—but it’s always nice to get an upgrade.

Looking further down the email, we were also offered the chance to bid for a business class upgrade. The lowest bid was for $70, so naturally that’s what I bid for each of us.

Virgin Australia Review
It was so nice to relax pre-flight in the Business Class lounge.

As it is such a short haul flight, in my experience, not too many people want to pay a lot extra for business class seats. Since a cash ticket can cost $900 per person, it’s hard to justify for an hour-long flight.

However, for the two of us, winning the upgrade bid made our tickets only $210 each. Instead of paying $1,800 for the flight, we only paid $420 for both of us, including the cost to upgrade.

We had just checked into the flight going down to Newcastle when I received this email confirming our bid had been accepted! Now we were going to be seated in row 2 in business, 25 rows ahead of our original seats in row 27 economy.

I did it all for my wife.

For Monique, it was her first time travelling in business class, and I was really excited for her to experience it.

Before the flight, we went through priority check in, and then went straight up to the Virgin Australia Lounge at the Gold Coast Airport. This helped us to relax even more before we prepared to board our flight.

We were able to get a drink in the lounge, and spent a little bit of time relaxing, enjoying the little touches that come with the business class experience.

Little did we know that the luxury treatment was only going to get better after we got on the plane.


Virgin Australia Business Class
Enjoying the Business Class cabin all to ourselves.

Heading down to the gate, we were given priority boarding as business class passengers, and made our way onto the plane first. When we got onto the plane, we took our very comfortable and spacious business class seats in row 2.

Shortly after, we watched as the other passengers boarded the plane, looking at the two of us as they walked past into the economy and premium sections of the plane.

Economy was full and there were maybe five people sitting in the premium seats.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with economy. But when the opportunity to bid for an upgrade is on the table, why not give it a go?

Soon the plane was fully boarded, and to our surprise, we were the only passengers in business.

Realising this, we both felt absolutely fantastic. We were relaxed and had all of this space to ourselves. We also had one-on-one service from the air hostess, who lived up to Virgin Australia's standard of high quality.

Virgin Australia Business Class
Champagne is served.

We felt like a king and queen, and were really well looked after on the flight.

This was a short flight, but we were still offered a few different dinner options, and they were all complimentary, which was a nice change. I'm more used to flying in economy on a short haul flight and having to pay for any food and drinks.

In the end we decided against a hot meal, but requested a cheese and olive platter to share, which the hostesses delivered. They really looked after us.

We were also offered complimentary beverages. I went for a glass of red wine, while Monique opted for an orange juice.

Virgin Australia Business Class meal
Cheese platter is served...

Later, as we prepared to land, Monique and I looked out of our window, and out over an uninterrupted view of Stockton beach (my favourite of Newcastle's many beaches).

The whole trip, all one hour of it, was a really enjoyable experience. It was a great way to extend and wrap up our little holiday.

Would I do it again?

After our flight, we were the first off the plane, which is always a nice bonus. (If you need to get to a meeting somewhere, this is even more useful.)

Newcastle Airport is small. Our bags didn’t take too long to come through and soon we were on our way home.

I looked over at Monique as we drove home and she was still excited after the flight. I knew that the upgrade to business and being treated so well by the staff on the plane had been a nice experience for her. This made me feel great.

I was really excited that I’d been able to make a bid to upgrade our flights online and give my wife a special experience. When it's just $70 each, I wonder why no one else bid for an upgrade too.

For anyone given the chance to bid for an upgrade, even on a short haul flight, I would definitely recommend it. The business class experience is a great one.

If I’m ever offered the chance to bid for an upgrade again, I will absolutely take it.