Alaska Airlines has been busy merging with Virgin America over the last year and half and starting this month, we will see the end of the Virgin America brand when it comes to purchasing tickets. The airlines already acts almost as one airline and has a single operating certificate. There is still work to be done with unions, painting of planes, and more, but starting April 25th the Virgin America flight numbers and reservation system ceases to operate and all flights will officially be Alaska Airlines. This is good news for frequent flyers, because it means better elite benefits are coming to Virgin America flights.
More Upgrades on Virgin America – Alaska’s Airbus
Virgin America has among the smallest first-class cabins of any airline operating in the United States. With only eight seats per plane, a first-class upgrade is extremely hard to come by. Currently, Elite members must purchase up to first class. Upgrades to First are not complimentary on Virgin America operated flights. Even upgrades to Main Cabin Select (Premium Economy) are only free within 12-24 hours of departure depending on elite level. Yet, Starting April 25 all of this changes.
Starting April 25, all Virgin America flights become Alaska Airlines flight and this means more upgrades and more premium seating available for elites earlier. As the name Virgin America slowly disappears and flights numbers become all Alaska numbers, Elites will have similar benefits regardless if the plane is a Boeing or an Airbus aircraft. Flying a Pre Merger Virgin Aircraft as Alaska Airline? Enjoy an upgrade!
Premium Seats at Booking.
Come April 25th, or now if your flight departs on April 25th or later, upgrade your seat. Alaska Airlines will allow elites to select premium seats on airbus aircrafts. Pre-merger Virgin airbus aircrafts only have two rows of premium economy, except for the A321 which has 3 rows. With a limited number of seats per aircraft, these are likely to fill up quickly.
Upgrade rules for premium class on the Alaska Airlines Airbus fleet is the same as the rest of the airline.
- MVP Gold 75K:All fares eligible for an immediate upgrade to Premium Class.
- MVP Gold:Y, Z, S, B, M, H, Q, L, V N, and K fares are eligible for an immediate upgrade to Premium Class. Other fares may clear within 72 hours of departure.
- MVP:Y, Z, S, and B fares are eligible for an immediate upgrade to Premium Class. Other fares may clear within 48 hours of departure.
First Class Upgrades on Pre-merger Virgin America Aircraft
Just as one would expect, first class upgrades are also coming to the Airbus fleet. Starting April 25th, all flights will allow elite flyers the opportunity to upgrade. With a smaller cabin, upgrades will be hard, but a few lucky elites will win battlefield upgrades on the premium product. Alaska does plan to update the Airbus fleet with new seats. The new seats are standard recliners and each plane will have more first class seats after. Yet until then, enjoy the upgrade when/if they happen! The days of lazy boy recliners in first are to end.
Elite upgrade process by status and fare class. Elites not traveling on instantly upgradable fares upgrades begin 5 days before departure. See the Alaska Upgrade Guide for more details.
Another perk of elite membership for MVP Gold and 75k Elites are four Gold Guest certificates each year. Starting April 25, 2018 Gold Guest upgrades can be applied to the Airbus fleet! Meaning all pre-merger Virgin America Airbus routes can enjoy a confirmed upgrade to first class, when available. Just look for the solid blue F when booking flights.
I’m very excited to see that Alaska is rolling out upgrades to the pre-merger Airbus fleet. Upgrades will be hard to come by, but the chance of an upgrade is better than paying $100 or more dollars to secure a first class seat. Not to mention, when booking flight operated by an Airbus, at least premium economy will be able to be secured at time of purchased. Granted there may not be any seats available.
Until Alaska reconfigures the Airbus aircraft, these planes will be the most difficult to secure a premium seat on. Yet, the saying always goes, you get what you pay for. If you want first, pay for it. In the meantime, enjoy the bluemoon upgrades on these more premium equipped planes!