Despite Marriott’s takeover of Starwood being well underway, it’s great to see that Starwood Preferred Guest is still innovating as an independent program.
What makes Starpoints so flexible is that they can be converted at a 1:1 ratio into over two dozen airline programs, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred. This means that you can earn 1.25 airline miles per Starpoint, when transferring in the right increments.
They enhanced the mileage transfer program even more back in April, when they added Virgin America Elevate as a 1:1 transfer partner. That means you can convert 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 Virgin America Elevate points.
That might not sound that extraordinary, except for the fact that Virgin America Elevate points are significantly more valuable than the average airline mile. For one, Virgin America Elevate points can be redeemed for ~2.1-2.3 cents each towards the cost of a revenue ticket on Virgin America. In other words, at a rate of 1 Starpoint per 1.25 Elevate points, that means each Starpoint gets you ~2.6-2.9 cents towards the cost of a ticket on Virgin America.
While the above is a fantastic deal, that’s not the only way you can maximize your Elevate points. They have some great redemption values on partner airlines as well.
Perhaps my favorite value is being able to redeem Elevate points for Virgin Australia business class without fuel surcharges. For travel between the US and Australia, they charge:
- 45,000 Elevate points for a one-way ticket
- 80,000 Elevate points for a roundtrip ticket
In other words, 65,000 Starpoints will get you 80,000 Elevate points, which is enough for a roundtrip ticket.
That’s a heck of a deal, given that Delta SkyMiles charges 80,000 miles for a one-way ticket, and that price is going up to 95,000 miles one-way later this year.
Virgin Australia has a fantastic new business class product, which I’m really excited to review.
Back in the day, Virgin Australia used to be the single most generous airline for releasing award availability between the US and Australia. Unfortunately that’s not the case anymore, and for partner airlines they’ve become much stingier.
However, it’s not impossible to snag space. In looking at trends recently, it seems like Virgin Australia pretty consistently makes business class award seats available within a week of departure.
I pulled up nonstop award availability yesterday through Delta’s website, and saw the following from Los Angeles and Sydney:
Then I saw the following from Sydney to Los Angeles:
As you can see, availability is pretty decent within a week (which I realize doesn’t work for everyone, for obvious reasons).
So my plan is to transfer 65,000 Starpoints to Virgin America Elevate (which converts into 80,000 Elevate points, thanks to the 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred), and then book a roundtrip business class award ticket between Los Angeles and Sydney in Virgin Australia’s new business class.
I’m hoping to take the trip later this month, once I get my passport back, since it’s presently in for a Russian visa.
If you’re in a similar situation and are looking to travel to Australia and can plan last minute, redeeming Elevate points for Virgin Australia business class is pretty tough to beat.
Has anyone redeemed Virgin America Elevate points for Virgin Australia, or is anyone planning on a similar redemption?