Virgin

SPG & Virgin America Are Cutting Ties As Of January 6, 2017

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This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. A couple of weeks ago Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closed, which has quite a few implications for frequent flyers on both airlines.

Last week we learned that Virgin America Elevate points will convert into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio, which seems pretty fair to me. This has opened up a pretty cool opportunity for those with Starwood Preferred Guest points:

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Virgin Australia Makes Me Wish I Missed Christmas

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While the holidays can be a busy time for travel, most people prefer to travel either before or after major holidays. For example, I doubt there are many people who are excited about flying on Christmas (well, other than those who don’t celebrate the holiday, in which case it’s a great day to fly, given that flights aren’t as full).

Well, Virgin Australia did something extra special this year for the passengers who missed Christmas altogether. This includes the passengers who flew from Los Angeles to Sydney and Brisbane on the night of December 24, and landed in Australia on the morning of the 26th.

Rather than having them feel like they missed Christmas, they served them a Christmas dinner, and gave them all kinds of gifts. Perhaps best of all, passengers onboard received a status upgrade:

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Starwood Axes Virgin America As A Points Transfer Partner Without Notice

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Update: Starwood is claiming this was a glitch, and that it should be updated soon. I guess we’ll see — clearly something is up, though.

This has been a big week for Alaska Mileage Plan. On Monday we learned that their partnership with Delta is ending, that they’re making some great changes to the program, and at what rate Virgin America points will convert into Alaska miles.

That last part has opened up a pretty cool opportunity, as I wrote about yesterday:

— Starpoints convert into Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America points at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred
— Virgin America points will convert into Alaska miles at a 1:1.3 ratio
— This means you can convert 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 Virgin America Elevate points, and then convert those into 32,500 Alaska miles, which is a 62.5% bonus when converting Starpoints into Alaska miles

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Here’s The Rate At Which Virgin America Points Will Convert Into Alaska Miles

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With Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America now complete, frequent flyers with both airlines have a lot of questions. While we don’t yet know at what point the Alaska and Virgin America frequent flyer programs will be merged, I think a lot of us are wondering at what rate Virgin America points will convert into Alaska miles.

A few days ago I wrote a post about this, and suggested that one Virgin America point should convert into somewhere between one and two Alaska miles. I suggested a 1:1.5 ratio, simply because that seemed well rounded. Well, the transfer ratio has now been confirmed.

Virgin America Elevate points will convert into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio. Per Alaska’s website:

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Alaska Mileage Plan Makes Earning & Redeeming Miles Easier With Latest Changes

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Earlier I wrote about Alaska and Delta cutting ties as of May 1, 2017, which will leave a lot of people very unhappy. On one hand I’m surprised to see them cut their relationship, since presumably this will cost Alaska a lot in revenue. At the same time, it seemed to be inevitable, given the number of routes on which Delta and the “new Alaska” overlap, which doesn’t make the partnership all that mutually beneficial anymore.

However, those are only some of the Mileage Plan changes that have been announced today. There’s some other stuff happening, and it’s mostly great news. Specifically:

As of today it’s possible to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles (both elite qualifying and redeemable) for travel on Virgin America. What makes this especially interesting is that Alaska has a distance based frequent flyer program, while Virgin America’s program is revenue based. However, as you’d expect, Alaska Mileage Plan will award miles based on distance flown rather than dollars spent.

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Be Alerted When Etihad Award Seats Become Available

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ExpertFlyer is a subscription based website that I find very useful as a frequent flyer. It’s useful for looking up flight seatmaps, searching award availability, looking up minimum connection times at airports, looking at available fare buckets, etc.

However, for many the single most useful aspect of ExpertFlyer is the ability to set award availability alerts. In other words, you can set an alert for a specific type of award on a specific flight, and ExpertFlyer will email and text you when that seat becomes available.

Given how many airlines open up award availability last minute nowadays, that’s a fantastic tool to have access to, rather than refreshing award availability all the time, like many of us do.

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Citi ThankYou Points Will No Longer Transfer To Virgin America

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Just a little while ago I speculated about the ratio at which Virgin America points will eventually be converted into Alaska Mileage Plan miles. As I mentioned, I think a 1:2 transfer ratio is too generous, while a 1:1 transfer ratio isn’t generous enough, so to me a 1:1.5 ratio sounds about right.

As I mentioned in the post, Virgin America Elevate is transfer partners with both American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou, and points transfer at a ratio of two Amex/Citi points per Virgin America Elevate points. Personally I don’t think that represents a very good deal, though it does suggest that Virgin America Elevate points are more valuable than most airline miles (since most of them transfer at a 1:1 ratio).

There’s one other interesting update on that front today — per an email sent out to cardmembers, Citi ThankYou points can no longer be converted into Virgin America Elevate points as of January 22, 2017.

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At What Rate Should Virgin America Points Convert Into Alaska Miles?

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Yesterday Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America was finalized, and there are a lot of frequent flyers wondering what this means for the future of their points, status, etc.

As of now there are a lot more questions than answers, unfortunately. What we know is the following:

— Starting December 19, 2016, Virgin America tickets can be purchased on Alaska’s website, and the two airlines will offer reciprocal mileage earning, as well as priority check-in and boarding for elite members
— Starting January 9, 2017, Alaska will status match Virgin America elite members

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Air Canada & Virgin Australia Announce New Strategic Partnership

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One major trend we’ve seen among global airlines the past few years is that the major alliances have become less important, while individual partnerships and joint ventures have become much more important.

For example, I suspect Qantas’ joint venture with Emirates is about as significant to them as their membership in oneworld. Arguably the same could be said about Delta’s participation in SkyTeam compared to the individual joint ventures they have, largely with airlines that aren’t even in SkyTeam.

As a result we’re seeing a lot more partnerships that go beyond the global alliances. Well, the latest such partnership has just been announced.

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What Alaska’s Takeover Of Virgin America Means For Customers

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As I speculated earlier, Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America is finally closing today. This is the completion of a very long process, though really only the start of their integration, as they have a lot of work left ahead of them.

What I’ve been most curious about is what this means for their frequent flyer programs. Lately we’ve seen some loyalty programs provide reciprocal benefits starting day one. So, what’s Alaska offering?

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Could This 737’s Flight Hint At The Alaska Merger Closing Today?

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As most of you probably know, Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America has been delayed by a couple of months due to negotiations with the Department of Justice. Alaska has finally been given the green light to close their merger, and it looks like that will be happening shortly.

Rumor has it that the deal will close today, and it looks like we have another good reason to believe that. As I posted about in early November, Alaska has a special livery 737 to celebrate Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America. The problem is that they haven’t really been able to fly it due to the delay in the merger.

So this brand new 737 has been sitting on the ground for well over a month, which has to be rather costly.

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Alaska Settles Lawsuit, Takeover Of Virgin America To Close Shortly

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On Tuesday we learned that Alaska finally gained antitrust approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to complete their takeover of Virgin America. While the merger was supposed to close in October, it has been pushed back significantly as the DOJ has been seeking concessions from the airline to ensure that sufficient competition remains.

To get the merger approved, Alaska is having to cut part of their codeshare agreement with American, at least on routes where they overlap. This shouldn’t impact the frequent flyer arrangement between the two airlines, but will mean that it won’t be possible to book codeshares on as many routes.

Even though the DOJ issue was settled, there was still one thing that had to be taken care of before the deal could close. As Alaska stated in their press release on Tuesday:

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Breaking: DOJ Approves Alaska & Virgin America Merger, But At A Cost…

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In April it was first announced that Alaska would be taking over Virgin America in a ~$2.6 billion deal.

Unfortunately there have been rolling delays in the closing of the deal, which have been caused by the Department of Justice not giving the deal their blessing. Rumor had it that the DOJ was asking Alaska to cut codesharing ties with either American and/or Delta, to ensure that sufficient competition remains. On top of that, the DOJ allegedly also asked the new airline to give up several gates in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Combined, these changes could cost Alaska hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue per year.

Last we heard, it sounded like the merger’s closing was being pushed off until 2017, though that seems to have abruptly changed, as the merger is finally proceeding.

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Virgin America First Class Fare Sale For The Holidays

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A few weeks ago Virgin America had a sale offering 50% off First Class & Main Cabin Select fares for travel over Thanksgiving, which was a great opportunity for those who waited until the last minute to plan their holiday travel.

Virgin America is now back with a similar sale for Christmas and New Year’s, though in most instances it’s not quite as lucrative. Still, this can represent a great opportunity.

Virgin America is offering discounted First Class & Main Cabin Select tickets for travel between December 17, 2016, and January 1, 2017. The promotion is valid for bookings made through 11:59PM CT on Thursday, December 8, 2017, and a 10 day advance purchase is required. As is usually the case with promotions, there are capacity controls, so not every seat will be available through this promotion.

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