Last August Virgin America introduced two elite tiers to their Elevate program. I thought this was pretty cool since it’s rare to see a low cost carrier with more “traditional” elite tiers. Then later last year they started offering status matches to American and United elite members.
Anyway I figured I’d status match, even if just for giggles, given that I think Virgin America’s days are numbered. They upgraded my status within a few days, though I didn’t actually think I’d take advantage of it.
I’m an MVP Gold member with Alaska, and they fly everywhere I could want to fly on Virgin America with more frequency, a much more liberal change policy, and free upgrades to first class.
Meanwhile Virgin America offers their Elevate Gold members free upgrades to Main Cabin Select, which are the coach bulkhead and exit row seats, with the added benefit of free movies, drinks, and food. And while I think that’s a generous/good upgrade policy, I’d still rather take first class on Alaska (which I consider to be little more than a nice bus) over a coach seat with better food, drinks, entertainment, and power ports.
But what actually tempts me as an Elevate Gold member is the discount for upgrades to first class, if I’m understanding things correctly. If you’re just a non-status passenger upgrading to first class you can pay to upgrade to Main Cabin Select or first class (with the first class fee being essentially the sum of an upgrade from coach to Main Cabin Select and from Main Cabin Select to first class).
However, as an Elevate Gold member you get a free upgrade to Main Cabin Select 24 hours out, and you should be able to upgrade to first class from there by paying just the Main Cabin Select to first class upgrade fee, which is usually pretty reasonable. Here’s their upgrade chart:
So I’d basically end up paying just $39 to upgrade for a west coast flight, which seems like a reasonably good deal.
Anyway, if my understanding is correct the status match is at least a nice way to save on the cost of upgrades to first class. I won’t be flying them a lot, though if this works I’ll fly them down to LA a couple of times, especially in connection with a visit to The Loft.
Given that their first class is substantially better than domestic first class on virtually every other US airline, it seems worth trying.
Anyone have experience with this?