Virgin America & Virgin Atlantic Are Cutting Ties

Earlier I posted about the big changes coming to Virgin Atlantic’s own Flying Club program, where we’re seeing the cost of many award tickets (in particular in premium cabins) increase significantly. It’s a huge devaluation to what’s already a disappointing program.

virgin-flying-club

Short term it’s not unusual to see an airline devalue their own frequent flyer program while leaving better redemption rates available if redeeming through other programs. Finding those good opportunities is one of the best ways to maximize points. However, over time you’ll generally find that redemption rates are always on the rise, regardless of which program you’re booking through.

Along those lines, a user on Reddit is reporting that the partnership between Virgin America Elevate and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is being discontinued as of November 13, 2016. I called up Elevate and the representative who answered informed me of the same, so I imagine this is a thing.

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class
Soon it won’t be possible to redeem Virgin America points on Virgin Atlantic

I would assume that the partnership is ending on both the mileage accrual and redemption side of things, so it won’t be possible to earn Elevate points for travel on Virgin Atlantic anymore either, or to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on Virgin America.

virgin-america-first-class
It also won’t be possible to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on Virgin America

I suspect this change is ultimately due to Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America. That deal is expected to close shortly, and it’s not surprising that Delta doesn’t want Virgin Atlantic partnering with Alaska, given that Alaska and Delta are big rivals. In the short term I suppose they could have revised their accrual and redemption rates, but it’s probably just not worth the effort since the partnership was going to end in the near future anyway.

While Virgin America Elevate points are significantly more valuable on a per point basis than Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, their redemption rates on Virgin Atlantic were very good. For example, Upper Class from New York to London cost 35,000 points roundtrip, plus the nasty $1,150 roundtrip in carrier imposed surcharges (#NastyAirlines).

virgin-redemption-rates

Starpoints convert into Virgin America Elevate points at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. So there were quite some opportunities there.

I’ll be curious to see if there are any other changes in Virgin Atlantic partnerships coming. Given how close the partnership between Delta and Virgin Atlantic is, I almost wonder if variable award pricing will soon be introduced when redeeming Delta SkyMiles on Virgin Atlantic. In early October I posted about a glitch where there seemed to be variable SkyMiles pricing on Virgin Atlantic, so I’m not sure if that was because they were setting up the technology for this, or what…

delta-award-2

Bottom line

I assumed that this partnership would eventually end, given Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America. Alaska partners with British Airways, and is also on bad terms with Delta, so it’s no surprise that this partnership won’t continue. At the same time, it’s a bit disappointing to see how little notice is being provided of this change.

This is certainly a blow to the value of Flying Club miles, given that redeeming on Virgin Atlantic represented a pretty good value, assuming you didn’t mind paying the big fees. Fortunately no other Virgin America partnerships are expected to change… as of now.

Are you sad to see the partnership between Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic discontinued?

(Tip of the hat to @IadisGr8)

Comments

  1. Always liked the VA, VX, VS connection – even if it was just in a higher level airline partner thing. I wonder if VX access to the VS Clubhouse’s in JFK, SFO and IAD will go away as well.

  2. Used 37,500 miles for first class one way from LAX-EWR. Sad to see this go away. Still have 112,500 miles left.

  3. Hah! Just made a booking for April last weekend… glad I made that … not I’ll probably just transfer my leftover points to Hilton :/

  4. “Virgin Atlantic represented a pretty good value, assuming you didn’t mind paying the big fees.”

    Kind of like “the desert isn’t too hot, assuming you don’t mind 120-degree heat.”

  5. Im sad bc I could transfer chase UR to VAtlantic to VAmerica. Not the best value, but not terrible and I have a glut of chase points. I love the Virgin America product.

  6. It’s really other way around. Booking virgin America flights using VA points was excellent to Hawaii and Cancun from lax. Sad to see it go….

  7. This isn’t too surprising given Alaska has announced they want out of the Virgin name/royalty fee they have to pay Branson for the right to use it. If I had to guess the changes would not have gone through until closer to the actual combination of the two programs, but perhaps that is closer than Alaska is letting on.

    Also I LOL’d at #NastyAirlines

  8. Lucky, I think you do a disservice to your readers by not mentioning the difficulty of redeeming VX miles in premium cabins on the majority of their partners.

    One glaring example is SQ, who, after my 2 hour call with the burn desk earlier today – has no availability for Business or First from the West Coast to Asia. For the rest of 2016. And 2017.

  9. This is bullshit. No advance notice given. I have an upcoming trip on VA to London and back in Prem Economy, and need badly to earn VX Elevate miles. That’s the reason I bought this ticket. Will they still honor it?

  10. I flew Virgin Atlantic from Miami to Heathrow and I had a great experience. The plane was beautiful and the crew was great all around. Due to this, I flew Virgin America from FLL to LAX and it was probably one of the worst experiences I’ve had with an airline. Virgin America does not offer anywhere near the level of service you expect from the Virgin name.

  11. So does this mean that I won’t be able to use my Virgin Elevate miles to book Virgin Atlantic flights anymore? Does this include Virgin’s flights from London to, say, Hong Kong?

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