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Is Alaska’s Takeover Of Virgin America In Jeopardy?

Alaska-Virgin-America

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. Initially the deadline for the merger to close was October 17, 2016. However, it looks like the Department of Justice isn’t approving the deal without some concessions, which are causing big delays.

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 is allegedly also asking 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, so you have to wonder how they’re feeling about the deal now.

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You Can Now Redeem Delta Miles For Premium Economy… But It’s Expensive

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Even though US airlines have long had partner airlines that offer premium economy cabins, historically they haven’t allowed miles to be redeemed for that cabin. I suspect it’s because the US airlines didn’t have a premium economy product of their own, so it was easier to just not offer that redemption option.

Well, American and Delta are both in the process of adding a true premium economy product to their longhaul flights (which will be different than the extra legroom economy cabins they currently offer), so soon enough we should see new award and upgrade policies for getting into these cabins. It looks like we already have a clue of what this pricing will be like.

Delta is now letting you redeem SkyMiles for travel in Virgin Atlantic premium economy.

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Cyber Monday Deal: Save Up To 30% On Virgin America Tickets

virgin-america-economy

So far I haven’t been terribly impressed by the Cyber Monday sales being offered by airlines. Well, Virgin America has one at the moment that’s about as good as it gets, it would seem.

Virgin America is offering up to 30% off tickets:

— You must book by 6AM PT on Tuesday, November 29, 2016
— Fly between December 10, 2016, and March 4, 2017
— Valid only on non-refundable main cabin tickets
— Flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are eligible for a 30% discount, while flights on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, are eligible for a 15% discount
— The following blackout dates apply: December 21, 2016, through January 4, 2017, January 13, 2017, January 16, 2017, and February 16 through 21, 2017
— Use promotion code TINYFARES at the time of booking to take advantage of this offer

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The Alaska & Virgin America Merger Is Expected To Close This Month

Alaska-Virgin-America

In April it was first announced that Alaska would be taking over Virgin America in a ~$2.6 billion deal. We still don’t actually know what the future of Alaska and Virgin America will look like in terms of branding, and it sure seems like Alaska doesn’t know either, as they’ve gone back and forth.

For a while Alaska had set a deadline of October 17, 2016, for the deal to close. However, prior to that date we learned that there would be a delay. It later became apparent that the reason for this was that the DOJ was concerned about the merger reducing competition too much, and they wanted some concessions from the new merged airline.

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 is allegedly also asking 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, so you have to wonder how they’re feeling about the deal now.

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Are More Virgin Atlantic Partnership Cuts Coming?

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Last week Virgin Atlantic announced some major changes to their Flying Club frequent flyer program, which are almost entirely bad news. This is especially true if you primarily accrue Virgin Atlantic miles through points transfers.

Virgin Atlantic is transfer partners with all four major transferrable points currencies (Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest), so there are lots of ways to accrue their points.

That being said, in addition to Virgin Atlantic devaluing their programs, they also recently cut ties with Virgin America, without much advance notice at all. This is likely since Virgin America will soon be taken over by Alaska, and Delta has an ownership stake in Virgin Atlantic. Delta and Alaska are big rivals in Seattle, and Alaska also partners with British Airways, so I suspect that’s why they’re cutting ties (these airline relationships are complicated, eh?).

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Great Deal: 50% Off Virgin America First Class Fares For Thanksgiving Week

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Need to travel Thanksgiving week but haven’t yet booked your travel? Well, Virgin America has a fantastic fare sale at the moment, offering 50% off Main Cabin Select and First Class fares. The promotion is valid for tickets booked by 11:59PM PT on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, and is valid for travel between November 17 and November 25, 2016. Simply use promotion code GOBBLE50 at the time of booking.

In my opinion Main Cabin Select (which is basically a bulkhead or exit row seat with free food and drinks) is often overpriced, though Virgin America’s first class is great. While it’s not fully flat, it’s significantly better than what you’ll usually find in domestic first class (with the exception of premium transcontinental routes).

In many cases first class is only marginally more expensive than economy when using this promotion code. For example, I see fares from Los Angeles to Seattle for $157 in first class, when economy would be $122.

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The “New” Alaska May Have To Give Up Gates At LAX & SFO, And More…

Virgin-America-VX-plane-SFO

In April it was first announced that Alaska would be taking over Virgin America in a ~$2.6 billion deal. We still don’t actually know what the future of Alaska and Virgin America will look like in terms of branding, and it sure seems like Alaska doesn’t know either, as they’ve gone back and forth.

For a while Alaska had set a deadline of October 17, 2016, for the deal to close. However, prior to the deadline we learned that wouldn’t happen. It later became apparent that the reason for this was that the DOJ was concerned about this merger reducing competition too much, and they wanted some concessions from the new merged airline. 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.

While this obviously isn’t officially from Alaska (their only statement about the delay in the merger is that they’re “making good progress”), TheStreet has a rumor of the concessions that Alaska is being required to make in order for the takeover to close:

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The Odd Reason An Alaska 737 Has Been Out Of Service For Weeks

Alaska-Seattle

Alaska’s $2.6 billion takeover of Virgin America was first announced in April, with the goal of closing the deal this year. As time progressed, a target date of October 17, 2016, was set for the deal to close. Unfortunately that deadline wasn’t met, though Alaska’s management continues to insist that they’re making “good progress” towards the deal closing.

We learned that the reason for the delay was that the Department of Justice was worried that there wasn’t enough competition left between US carriers (JoJo’s song “Too Little Too Late” comes to mind), and that they wanted Alaska to make some concessions. Specifically, it seems that the DOJ wants Alaska to cut their codesharing ties with American and/or Delta.

Arguably Alaska already significantly overpaid in this deal, and them having to cut ties with American and/or Delta could make this takeover even more costly. Alaska’s management continues to insist that the deal isn’t at risk, though I have to imagine that Alaska is even less happy about this deal than they were before.

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Virgin America & Virgin Atlantic Are Cutting Ties

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class

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.

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.

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Virgin Atlantic Destroys What Little Value Flying Club Had

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Yesterday Virgin Atlantic announced some major changes to their Flying Club frequent flyer program, and they’re bad news. I’m sorry for the delay in writing about these changes, as I was flying without wifi for most of the day yesterday.

Simply put, these changes follow the general industry trend we’ve been seeing the past few years — high revenue flyers may do slightly better on the surface, while a vast majority of people will lose out as a result of these changes. Let’s dig a bit deeper into these changes:

Unfortunately Virgin Atlantic isn’t giving much advance notice of these changes:

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Virgin America Sold A Pair Of Shoes For Nearly $100,000

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A bit over a week ago I wrote about how Virgin America was auctioning off some one-of-a-kind shoes on Ebay, in order to raise money for Soles4Souls, which helps get shoes and clothing to people in need.

What made these shoes so unique is that they’re Virgin America “first class shoes,” and have most of the same amenities as a Virgin America first class seat. This includes things like white leather, a stainless steel seatbelt buckle, a video display, a rechargeable battery, a USB phone charger, a wifi hotspot, and more.

At the time I wrote about the shoes, there were eight days remaining for the auction, and bidding was up to $1,625.

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Will The DOJ Force Alaska To Cut Ties With American Or Delta?

Alaska-737

In April it was first announced that Alaska would be taking over Virgin America in a ~$2.6 billion deal. Many of us didn’t see this coming, though as the deal progressed we learned that Alaska and JetBlue were both wanting to buy Virgin America, which is why the bidding went so high.

We still don’t actually know what the future of Alaska and Virgin America will look like in terms of branding, and it sure seems like Alaska doesn’t know either, as they’ve gone back and forth.

For a while Alaska had set a deadline of yesterday (October 17, 2016) for the deal to close. However, last week we learned that wouldn’t happen, though they didn’t provide a specific reason, other than stating that they were making “good progress” towards the deal closing.

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Virgin America Offering Double Points & Status Credits For First Class Bookings

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Virgin America has just announced that they’re offering double status credits and double Elevate points for first class travel through November 15, 2016.

Registration is required prior to travel, and even previously booked travel qualifies for the promotion as long as you register prior to the travel date. Bonus points and status credits should post within 4-6 weeks of qualifying flights. Only paid first class bookings qualify, so upgrading to first class wouldn’t make you eligible for this offer.

Virgin America Elevate members ordinarily earn five Elevate points per dollar spent, and through this promotion you’d earn an additional five Elevate points per dollar spent.

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Virgin America Is Auctioning Off First Class Shoes

virgin-america-shoes

Here’s something super random/cute/quirky. Virgin America is auctioning off some one-of-a-kind shoes on Ebay, and all the proceeds to go charity. Specifically, money raised will go to Soles4Souls, which helps get shoes and clothing to people in need.

So, what kind of shoes could an airline possibly be auctioning off on Ebay? The Virgin America First Class Shoe, of course, which has most of the same features you’ll find in Virgin America first class. Here’s a video about the concept:

Here’s how the pair of shoes is described:

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