tldr; As Velocity Platinum member, I was able to get two business class seats on VA24 (LAX-MEL) with a points redemption from the call centre when no seats were available to redeem online.
If you look at my Virgin Velocity membership card, it has a nice fancy colour. The card is Platinum (newly minted as of March 2019, my previous stint as a platinum ended early 2016).
Normally, I don’t see the benefit of platinum membership. Gold is good enough. Gold gets you into the lounge for a free coffee or beer before a flight, as well as priority boarding and security. Happy days. Platinum is not something I strive for (some people apparently do status runs for it).
The only real benefits of platinum appear to be four complimentary upgrades to business (from the considerably more expensive flexible fares, so not that useful) and an extra two guests into the lounge (which is not that common, would have used it once last year).
But today, a pleasant surprise was had by being a Virgin Velocity Platinum frequent flyer.
I’m currently on holiday with my family in the US. To get here, we redeemed points. We flew into New York via Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways, and going home from Los Angeles via Singapore with Singapore Airlines (a.k.a. the long way: a twelve hour flight and then two eight hour flights, versus a direct Los Angeles to Melbourne of fifteen hours).
The reason for flying the long way is that it is pretty much impossible to get premium cabin redemptions using Velocity points to or from the US from Australia. With Virgin Australia, it is easy to get economy, hard to get premium economy and pretty much impossible to get business class. Whilst with Singapore and Etihad, it is much easier to obtain points redemptions for most routes
Whilst on holiday, I needed to call up Velocity and cancel another flight. When on the phone with them (and speaking to the Australian call centre, a platinum perk apparently), I cheekily asked if there was any availability from Los Angeles to Australia (either Melbourne, Brisbane or Sydney) on Sunday 5th May — knowing full well that on the website there was none.
She quickly had a look and said yes, can book you Los Angeles to Brisbane for two passengers in business class. What!? Can you also check to Melbourne? And again, also available. Perfect, so we locked in LAX-MEL for two adults in business with lap infant. Total cost: AUD 530.80 and 191,000 Velocity points.
Looking at the seat selector, there are still 10 unassigned (potentially empty?) seats in business class out of 37 seats. Perhaps due to 12 seats being available when I called, and the flight only being 6 days away (booked 29/4, flying 5/5), she was able to open up availability for us (though she did say she wasn’t doing anything special for me).
So that’s a nice little win and perk. Be glad to get home a lot quicker! Especially with the little dude.