March 29, 2017
Virgin America Elevate is Ending in January 2018
Following the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin American last December, we reported last week that Alaska Air decided to phase out the Virgin America brand name by 2019. We received word today that Alaska has decided to end the Virgin America Elevate frequent flyer program on January 1, 2018. On January 1, the Elevate program will be merged will Alaska’s Mileage Plan reward program.
If you convert your existing Virgin America Elevate miles into Alaska Mileage Plan miles now through January 1, 2018, you’ll get a 30% bonus. This means you’ll be transferring miles at a 1:1.3 ratio. If you fail to convert your miles by ‘Early 2018’, they’ll automatically be converted anyway. However, the wording of Alaska’s announcement is vague as to the conversion ratio come January 2018, so they could end up converting at a 1:1 ratio. If you have Elevate miles, you might as well convert them to Alaska miles before 2018 to be safe.
Another important note here is that Virgin America members have until ‘Fall 2017’ to redeem their miles on partner airlines and until December 31, 2017 to redeem miles on Virgin America. So if you have a redemption in time, start booking those flights soon!
Not much of Virgin America’s product is surviving the merger. Alaska is going to be updating the Virgin seat configurations to match those offered Alaska and is replacing the generous first class seats with Alaska’s standard first class seats. The main Virgin implementations are mood lighting and playing music during boarding.
How does Virgin America’s founder Richard Branson feel about all this? Not happy to say the least. He was adamantly opposed to the merger from the beginning. He stated the following at a press conference earlier this week: “When I sat down with Alaska, I genuinely believed they would treasure the brand, treasure the people, treasure the product…and that the last thing they would do would be to rip the heart out of it, which seems like what they are going to do.” Ever the optimist, Branson is moving on and pushing ahead with his latest venture-Virgin Voyages, a brand new cruise line which began construction of their first ship just last week. What do you think of Alaska’s handling of the merger? Comment below.
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