You Can Now Redeem Alaska Miles On Virgin America

It’s a big day for Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America Elevate, as it’s now possible to convert your Virgin America Elevate points into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio (though a transfer in the other direction isn’t possible).

However, that’s not the only new development today.

It’s now also possible to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on Virgin America. This is an interesting opportunity, given that Virgin America Elevate is a revenue based program, meaning the number of points required for a redemption is based on how much a ticket would cost. Meanwhile Alaska Mileage Plan is a traditional program, meaning award availability comes at fixed costs.

Why I’m excited about redeeming Alaska miles on Virgin America

Virgin America’s domestic product is far superior to what’s offered by Alaska. Virgin America offers recliner seats in first class with 55″ of pitch, so it’s equivalent to an old business class recliner seat. This is hands down the best domestic first class product out there, at least for regional flights.

virgin-america-first-class

However, one downside is that Virgin America has only one type of first class seat, so they’re not quite as competitive in transcon markets, whether other airlines offer fully flat beds. Still, the product is significantly better than anything that’s offered by Alaska.

Alaska Mileage Plan redemption costs on Virgin America

Alaska Mileage Plan redemptions on Virgin America follow a “traditional” redemption chart, meaning the number of miles required is the same as long as there’s award availability. The one-way saver award costs are as follows:

  • Travel within a state: 7,500 miles in economy, 15,000 miles in first class
  • Travel within the lower 48: 12,500 miles in economy, 25,000 miles in first class
  • Travel between the mainland and Hawaii: 20,000 miles in economy, 40,000 miles in first class

vx-1 vx-2

Those are some pretty standard redemption costs, so I don’t think anyone is surprised by those numbers. In theory there are also higher level award costs on Virgin America, though availability at the lowest level is so good that I can’t imagine needing to book one.

virgin-america-a320

Virgin America award availability is excellent

This is the most exciting aspect of this development. Virgin America award availability is phenomenal. With most airlines, snagging a first or business class class award seat between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco is really tough. Meanwhile with Virgin America, almost every seat is available.

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The same is true for most of their other routes, including between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Availability is even pretty good to Hawaii.

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And redeeming 40,000 miles for first class between New York and Hawaii in a comfortable recliner seat is a solid value, in my opinion.

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Not only is availability excellent for one passenger, but most flights have multiple award seats. Heck, many Virgin America flights have seven saver level first class award seats (including on transcon routes), even though the cabin has just eight seats.

In theory you should also be able to do a stopover on a one-way Virgin America award, though as of now those don’t seem to be pricing. I suspect that will change soon.

Bottom line

While domestic redemptions ultimately aren’t my favorite use of miles, there are some great values to be had here. Alaska’s redemption rates on Virgin America are in line with what the competition charges. However, unlike the competition, award availability is excellent, including for multiple people in first class, and in most markets, Virgin America’s first class is the best there is.

Are you considering redeeming Alaska miles for travel on Virgin America?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. What I would like to know is if it is possible to redeem Alaska miles for Virgin America partners. E.g. Singapore airlines, Virgin Atlantic? Will they become Alaska partners? Can I convert Alaska miles to VA points for 1.3:1?

  2. @ Jackie — Unfortunately not. You can convert Virgin points into Alaska miles, but not the other way around. That could still change, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  3. Hey @ Lucky, I have also confirmed (on the phone with an AS agent) today that for now, VX flights may NOT be paired with other partners on award reservations. The current rule of using 1 Partner + AS for redeeming partner award tickets still stands. I was so hoping to be able to pair a CX flight with a VX one for positioning purposes! Oh well, that will come at some point.

  4. Hey Lucky. Any idea if I can book Virgin America flights using the $99 Companion certificate that I received when I signed up for the Alaska Air Credit Card?

  5. Any word on if British Airways Avios miles will be able to be redeemed for Virgin America flights?

  6. I tried to book a VX award online and got “Space on partner flights cannot be confirmed. Please change the dates, cities, or flights of your original request.” I tried calling, but had to wait for a callback, and the agent couldn’t hear me. I’ll try again later I guess.

  7. Drifting off topic here, but does anybody know if VX First passengers can still pay to get into the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK? According to Virgin America’s website, you can, but their website tends to have a lot of old offers/info up. Anybody know if flying VX First post Alaska merger will still be able to get you access?

  8. I got the same ‘space on partner flights cannot be confirmed….’ message. Tried 4 different flights on 3 different days. VX site still shows plenty of space. Anyone able to book any flights? I’m going to try to call AS later this evening to book by phone and see how that goes.

  9. Just a follow up to a prior comment: Can anyone confirm that flying Virgin America first class from JFK (in my case to LAX) will allow you to get into the JFK Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse? It says that on the Virgin America website, but it would be great to get a confirmation.

  10. @Rick @Bob I emailed Virgin America a few days ago and they confirmed it: VX passengers flying first can still pay to access the JFK Clubhouse. For 25k AS miles and 75 bucks, I am damn tempted for my next westbound transcon. I expect this policy won’t be around much longer, given how tight Virgin Atlantic and Delta are…

  11. It is not clear to me that converting from Virgin to Alaska is worthwhile since Virgin often requires less points for equivalent flights. Does anyone have any thoughts?

  12. Don’t transfer Virgin Elevate over to Alaska. If I booked on Virgin to Portland and used Elevate miles the cost was 3,500. Same flight but booked through Alaska Mileage cost 12,500 miles. Keep your Elevate Miles

  13. @Carlo: Your analysis is only true for less expensive tickets. I transferred 19,230 Virgin America points to Alaska. That resulted in 25,000 Alaska miles. I redeemed those miles for a one way LAX to NYC ticket that would have cost 68,000 Virgin points. I saved 48,770 Virgin points by booking the exact same award with Alasak. Thus, for expensive tickets in particular, transferring Virgin points to Alaska miles definitely can make sense. However you’re correct that for less expensive tickets, Virgin is definitely the way to go.

  14. Anyone know how Alaska is managing the VX saver award inventory? For instance on a first class saver VX award they are still using the same booking code “K” as Virgin does, but somehow they are limiting the number of seats available, while on Virgin, there is no limit cause points are always usable. Alaska typically only releases 1 A inventory saver first class award seat per their flight, and they somehow able to do this for VX flights even though K inventory is wide open.

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