Consistent with its existing policy of offering free Alaska Lounge access to passengers who book first class tickets, Alaska Airlines is now providing lounge access to customers who book first class on Virgin America. (HT to One Mile at a Time)
Virgin will continue to operate as an independent carrier at least through the end of this year, but Alaska has been slowly replicating benefits across both fleets. You can already match your Virgin America Elevate status to Alaska Mileage Plan, earn and redeem Alaska miles for flights on Virgin America, and use perks like the free checked bag and annual companion fare from Alaska’s Visa Signature credit card on Virgin America. Lounge access was just a matter of time.
Alaska already announced that it would give free access to the Alaska Lounge to customers with Virgin America Elevate Gold and discounted access to Elevate Silver members through 2017. That same announcement also included free access to the Alaska Lounge at LAX when traveling in first class, due to the closure of the Virgin America Loft. The more recent announcement expands access for first class passengers to the rest of the Alaska Lounge network.
It’s important to remember that this benefit does not extend to passengers who are upgraded to first class. You must purchase a first class fare or book a first class award ticket. Also, it only includes access to the Alaska Lounge. Customers who purchase a full Alaska Lounge membership do get access to partner lounges operated by American Airlines and other carriers, but these partner lounges are not part of the first class benefit.
Overall it’s a great perk to see here in the U.S., where most carriers allow domestic lounge access only as part of an international itinerary.
Current Alaska Lounge locations are in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles. There are plans to open a new Alaska Lounge at New York-JFK next year. Seattle already has its main lounge in Concourse D and a temporary location in the North Satellite. A third lounge in Concourse C is expected to open next month.
I still have no information on the Concourse C facility, but some investigative work did find the above rendering of the permanent North Satellite lounge. This is part of the North STAR expansion project is completed in a few years’ time. It’s going to a be a huge facility on the terminal’s new third floor with mountain and runway views. If the rendering is an accurate guide, it’s going to be stunning!