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How to find upgradeable Virgin Atlantic fares before you buy

by on Wed January 27, 2016 • 2 Comments


Looking to upgrade to Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic?

While it would be nice if you could take the very cheapest fares and turn them into Upper Class reservations, that’s not possible with Virgin Atlantic.

Instead, you need to buy fares that are designated as upgradeable by Virgin Atlantic, and they use cryptic letter codes to define which ones you can upgrade:

  • From Economy to Upper Class: Y,B,R,L,U,M
  • Premium Economy to Upper Class: W,S

The Virgin Atlantic website is pretty useless when it comes to telling you whether the fare you see is upgradeable or not. It defaults to the lowest possible fare, which usually isn’t upgradeable, or it displays a ‘flexible’ fare, which might be more expensive than some available upgradeable fares.

There was a tool that would let you shop for upgradeable fares, but it’s pretty much non-functioning at this point.

So you’re left with two reliable options:

1) Call Virgin Atlantic on +1 800 365 9500, wait on hold, and ask a phone agent to check fares on various flights

2) Use the ITA Matrix, which lets you specify fare codes when searching for fares

Here’s how to find upgradable fares using the ITA matrix

1. Head to

2. Enter your destination and click on ‘Advanced routing codes’


3. Enter the fare code into the Advanced routing codes box and search


If you’re trying to upgrade from Economy to Upper Class, paste in this code: VS+ / f bc=M

  • The ‘VS+’ limits your results to Virgin Atlantic.
  • The ‘M’ will search for ‘M’ class fares, which are the lowest of the upgradable fares. (The next lowest is ‘U’, and the most expensive is ‘Y’).

You’ll see the fare displayed on the next page, with the letter in parenthesis to let you know you’re looking at the fare code you specified.


If you’re trying to upgrade from Premium Economy to Upper Class, paste in: VS+ / f bc=S

  • The ‘S’ searches for ‘S’ class, which is the lowest of the upgradable Premium Economy fares.
  • Be sure to paste the code into both the departing and destination forms, or else you’ll only get a result with the upgradable fare in one direction.

If you want to price out buying the more expensive upgradable fare in one direction, and the lowest possible fare in the other, you can leave the form blank in the direction where you want the lowest, non-upgradable fare.

And you can substitute any of the fare letters above for ‘M’ or ‘S’ to see that particular fare.

Tip: Remember that you will pay additional taxes and fees when you upgrade, on top of the ‘upgradable fare.’ From Economy Class expect to pay an extra $700 roundtrip from the U.S., and an extra $350 roundtrip from Premium Economy.

Once you’ve decided whether an upgradable fare is reasonable for your budget, you’ll want to check if upgrade space is available, and we show you how to do that here.

You’ll need to call Virgin Atlantic to process the upgrade, but knowing the situation in advance, you’ll save time and see all the possibilities beforehand.

Upgrading a ticket isn’t usually the cheapest way to get into Upper Class, as it often costs around $2,000 roundtrip when you add up the fares and fees, but if you’re trying to conserve miles, or someone else is paying for your ticket, it can be a very good deal.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou, making it easy to earn Virgin miles.


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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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50,000 bonus points

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$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

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2 thoughts on How to find upgradeable Virgin Atlantic fares before you buy

  1. nadball

    Any way to upgrade a flight booked with elevate points? I recently booked, but cant figure out what fare class it ended up being. Thanks


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