Update: The Virgin America Elevate program has been discontinued since the carrier was acquired by Alaska Airlines. Learn more about the benefits and how to get a status match with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.
I’m a huge fan of Virgin America. I think the airline makes a lot of sense for infrequent travelers. You’re not competing with status-holding members, and you get Wi-Fi, in-seat entertainment, and some of the best food / drink options in coach. So… how does it work?
Elite qualification is based on “status points,” and the qualification levels are as follows:
- Silver: 20,000 Status Points Per Year
- Gold: 50,000 Status Points Per Year
For every dollar you spend on Virgin America, you get 5 status points. For flights on Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, you earn one status point per mile flown. So in order to get top tier status on Virgin America, you need to spend $10K per year on Virgin America. You can also get 10,000 status points after $25,000 annual spend on their Virgin America Signature VISA Card.
What do the status levels get you? See below.
Pretty standard stuff. One thing that is interesting is seating in “Main Cabin Express.” I’m not sure what this is… They don’t define it anywhere on their site, except saying that it is coming later in 2012. This site defines Main Cabin Express as “complimentary to business class,” but I doubt that’s accurate. I’m assuming it something slightly under Main Cabin Select. We’ll have to wait and hear clarification from Virgin America. You get complimentary Main Cabin Select upgrades 24 hours in advance, and the First Class purchase window increases to 24 hours. I actually think the latter is a decent perk. Most Virgin America flights don’t sell out their first class cabins, and Virgin typically charges a reasonable fare for upgrades. Getting an advance on everyone to get those seats early is neat.
In any case, for 99% of the people reading this blog, there’s nothing to see here. For the few people who dedicate themselves to Virgin America, there are definitely some things to like. I won’t be diverting any of my flying from United to Virgin anytime soon, except for the cases where a flight is sold out or there is some great deal. The good news is that Virgin America has slowly made itself more and more relevant. First they fixed their mileage expiration. Now they’ve added elite levels.
I fly a few Virgin America flights per year, and it’s always a good experience. I figure that at some point down the line, I’ll have enough points to redeem for a couple first class tickets to New York or Cancun or something like that. I’m very keen to try Virgin America First Class.