American Express Rewarding Life Challenge One: Upgrade with Points

Sponsored by American Express

Flight: Melbourne to Darwin
Flight time: 4.5 hours
Rewards Points Used: 30,000

When American Express asked me to document a series of challenges using rewards points I was (for obvious reasons) more than happy to take part! For the first of the four challenges, I was asked to upgrade a flight with my American Express Membership Reward points – let’s be honest, the hardest part was finding the perfect flight to use make the most of the upgrade.

When looking to upgrading domestically in Australia I always try to make the best use of the points and use them on a long haul flight where I have more time to enjoy the premium experience. As a Virgin Velocity member, upgrading to ‘The Business’ between Sydney and Perth is easily the best option domestically. For Qantas Frequent Flyers, the same route also offers their business studio, which can also be found occasionally between Sydney and Melbourne and is often a steal if you want really unwind after a long day of meetings.

Luckily, I had a trip already locked in on The Ghan train which required me to fly from Melbourne to Darwin, so I’d decided I’d make the most of the 4.5 hour night flight and upgrade to Business Class by using American Express Membership Reward Points transferred into Velocity Points.

The amount of points required to process the upgrade depends on the fare type you’ve purchased. I was booked on the middle tier Economy ticket, still discounted but with some options (as opposed to a fully flexible ticket and the cheapest discount ticket with no options), the upgrade required a spend of 30,000 Velocity Points. To put that amount in perspective, I’ve used points to upgrade on the same fare class between Sydney and Melbourne for 9,000 points so 4.5 hours for 30,000 points seems pretty reasonable. So my first challenge was well underway!

Upgrade Using American Express Points.

When we boarded the flight at 8.15pm, following 6 hours in the lounge I was exhausted, and more than excited to be sitting up in the front, knowing I could kick back and relax for the few hours ahead. Once we were in the air I was handed an entertainment unit and offered two choices of dinner including a shredded chicken and eggplant salad or braised lamb shank with quinoa. I opted for the lamb shank, paired it with a Grenache Shiraz – and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

Upgrade Using American Express Points.

After dining, I reclined my seat and enjoyed two films and a few more glasses of wine, dozing off between scenes of Empire Records. When we landed in Darwin at 11.30pm I was the first off the plane and straight into a cab, arriving at my hotel within 20mins of the plane landing, hopping straight into bed for a busy few days ahead. 

Upgrade Using American Express Points.

After a busy day of driving cars and shooting content, a lengthy stint in the lounge, no meal before boarding, and a 4.5 hour flight, I relished in my decision to upgrade. Knowing that it was my regular business spending habits on my American Express Business Accelerator Card that had provided my experience, made it even more enjoyable.

You can earn American Express Membership Rewards points on the following cards.
American Express Platinum Card, American Express Platinum Edge Card, American Express Explorer Card.

To check out which American Express Card best suits your spending habits head to the American Express website.


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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