Redeeming Alaska Miles on Virgin America

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Looking at the integration since the merger closes, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America have been nothing but successful. After the takeover of Virgin by Alaska late last year, the companies have made an earnest effort in integrating. This seems to have started with their Frequent Flyer programs. First, you could transfer your Virgin points to Alaska miles at a ratio of 1 to 1.3. Next, Alaska started adding Virgin America to its mileage program, allowing you to redeem your Alaska Miles on Virgin flights.

This redemption has added a great option since Virgin does fixed-price reward pricing which can make redemption much more economical. In addition to the economies of redemptions, Virgin has one other advantage: the hard product on Virgin America is much better than many other carriers. This is especially true of Virgin’s first class product, which in addition to being better has a more generous award space availability.

Competitive Pricing

Unlike Alaska which has an award system that is tiered depending on the distance traveled, Virgin only has two categories. The first is within the state regardless of the distance traveled; the second is interstate which covers costs between states. Again, there is no price distinction whether you are flying to the state next door or if you are flying across the country.

Virgin American Award - Domestic

When it comes to Hawaii, like most airlines, Virgin has a separate award price structure. The structure is relatively competitive, especially in the Premium cabin.

Virgin American Award - Hawaii

The final destination to which Virgin America flies is Mexico, and although the pricing chart is similarly priced to other airlines, it can be more competitive than others depending on the distance traveled.

Virgin American Award - Mexico

Virgin America First Class

One area where Virgin America has the edge over its domestic rivals is the Premium cabin. The product is typically much better, with bigger seats in domestic First class, excellent legroom since the chairs have a pitch of 55” inches, and the fact that any flights longer than two hours get a complimentary meal.

The main drawback to Virgin America is on transcontinental flights, since it lacks fully lie-flat seats, while the big three legacy carriers in the US all have fully lie-flat beds on transcontinental flights. Although it must be noted that even transcon flights are not long enough to have a full night's rest like you'd get on many intercontinental flights.

Award Space Availability

This is where Virgin America comes in big time. Unlike American, Delta and United who have restrictive award space availability, there is plenty of Premium cabin award space open on Virgin America. Looking through the availability of award space, there is plenty of space available in February and plenty in August for flights between Los Angeles and New York. There is similar generous availability on flights from Chicago to Los Angeles next month and in September. Regarding award space availability to Hawaii, there is plenty of space available in May.

Summary

The ability to redeem Alaska miles on Virgin America flights is an excellent opportunity since even though the prices may not be more economical all the time, there are some good opportunities for saver rate redemptions. Also, Virgin offers an excellent product on its Premium cabins, which is better than most other legacy carriers.

Source: MileValue/Sarah Page Maxwell

Redeeming Alaska Miles on Virgin America
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Comments

  • Interesting though I’m not sure its worth first class on a couple hours of flight time. Might be worth it if you have extra points but normally its not really necessary

  • Spencer Hudson says:

    This is a great post. Alaska and Virgin really seem to be going out of their way to keep the Virgin Elevate members happy. However, it’s not clear how I should be earning miles. Should I credit flights on VA to Alaska Mileage Plan or to Virgin Elevate?

  • Great news that VX has good transcon premium cabin availability.
    Thanks for the post!

  • rodney ross says:

    I only flew Alaska Airlines one time and it was a joy. Being from Pittsburgh not much chance to use them. I think Virgin will become a better airline because of the merger

  • Thanks for the post! I will start to look into AS Premium cabin!

  • Awesome cause VX has an above average domestic F product!

  • ADAM PARSONS says:

    Got given 10k alaska points last week for being a Viron america account holder so I take it you can still use alaska miles on virgin even though they gifted me 10k?

  • If you need to get from A to B and it’s possible to do it both on Alaska and Virgin, my advice would be to look at both of them and compare for incongruences as the root may price out differently in terms of miles required and taxes, especially becuase Alaska offers excellent availability on AA too.

  • Still need to compare the miles needed when redeeming…

    looks like short haul / expensive flight is better for alaska miles redemption
    and long haul / cheap flights is better for virgin miles redemption.

  • Worked just fine! Already emptied my account for Virgin flight. I love this merger!!!

  • Great news!!! I have tons of Alaska points.

  • Kevin Davis says:

    So far I’m impressed with Alaska Airlines

  • Always good to have more possibilities of redemption.
    What it’s still unclear is if Virgin will stay as a separate brand or eventually will merge with Alaska.

  • I am always torn on whether Alaska Airlines should be a member of an airline alliance, but they may just be better off standing alone and having more codeshare partners instead!

  • Is Virgin America excluded from the “only one partner per reward” rule? i.e. we know we can fly AS to connect to CX, but what about VX?

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