Ever since Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America was announced, it seems like Virgin America and JetBlue have been competing fiercely. This is likely because JetBlue also wanted to buy Virgin America, but was outbid. Since that time, we’ve seen several promotions and changes from both carriers, including:
- Virgin America has improved status benefits and added status matches for JetBlue elites
- JetBlue has offered free tickets to residents of New York and California who haven’t flown JetBlue before
- JetBlue has improved and expanded their status challenge to Virgin America flyers
- JetBlue has offered to match the points balances of Virgin America Elevate members
That last one is of course by far the most generous promotion of all, and perhaps the most generous promotion of the year in the airline industry. I doubt Virgin America will top that.
While not quite to the same level, Virgin America has just announced their latest promotion, which rewards passengers who fly with them this summer. Virgin America is offering 50% bonus Elevate base points for flights booked and flown between July 6 and August 31, 2016. Registration is required prior to travel.
As a reminder, Elevate members typically earn the following number of points for Virgin America flights:
- Elevate Red members earn 5x points per dollar spent
- Elevate Silver members earn 7.5x points per dollar spent
- Elevate Gold members earn 12x points per dollar spent
Through this promotion you earn an additional 2.5x points per dollar spent on base fare regardless of your status, given that this promotion offers a 50% bonus on base points.
In other words, through this promotion:
- Elevate Red members earn 7.5x points per dollar spent
- Elevate Silver members earn 10x points per dollar spent
- Elevate Gold members earn 14.5x points per dollar spent
Elevate is a revenue based program on both the earning and redemption side, and each point can be redeemed for ~2.2 cents towards the cost of a paid ticket on Virgin America. That’s a really good return for a revenue based program, now that all of the “big three” US carriers are going revenue based.
I value Elevate points at ~2.0 cents each, when you factor in the points you’re forgoing by booking an award ticket rather than a revenue ticket.
Using my valuation, as an Elevate Red member you’d earn a return of ~15% on flying during this period, while as a Gold member you’d earn a return of ~29%. That’s really good, though keep in mind that marginally you’re basically getting a return that’s ~5% better than usual.
The full terms of the promotion are as follows:
In this offer, you will earn 50% bonus points per $1 spent on the base fare for a total of 7.5 points per $1 spent on the base fare for all qualifying flights booked and flown between July 6, 2016 and Aug 31st 2016.
The typical earn for Elevate members is 5 points per $1 spent on the base fare. To qualify for this offer, guests must a) be enrolled in Elevate prior to registering for the offer, b) register for the offer prior to their travel date and c) correctly add their Elevate account number to their reservation prior to their first travel date. Any changes or cancellations might result in disqualification from the offer. All travel not normally eligible for earning reward points, including Elevate reward bookings, are excluded from this offer. Bonus Elevate points cannot be transferred between accounts and will only be earned if the member has entered their Elevate membership number in their booking. If the member has chosen to earn points or miles with a partner airline loyalty program, these flights will be excluded from this offer and no bonus points will be earned on your travel with Virgin America. This offer is not combinable with any other Virgin America earn promotions. If 2 offers are applicable for one guest the most generous points offer will be applied.
Only tickets that are ticketed on a Virgin America prefix (’VX’) and operated on Virgin America will qualify for this offer subject to these terms. Bonus Points will be posted to the member’s account within 4-6 weeks after qualifying flights are flown.
This promotion isn’t a reason in and of itself to book a ticket on Virgin America, though it’s a very nice addition to earning rates that are already industry leading among revenue based programs. This promotion essentially offers you an additional ~5% return on your Virgin America spend.