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Virgin America launched its Elevate elite status program back in July, and now it’s offering members the chance to status match. Between now and April 30, 2013, qualifying elite level flyers from United Airlines and American Airlines’ frequent flyer programs will be able to request matched status to Virgin America’s Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver Status levels. It’s a bit strange that they are not matching status to Delta since they also compete on the same transcontinental routes. Applicants will need to sign up for the Elevate program if not already a member, and can expect their Elevate status to be updated within 7 to 14 days after submitting their application. Approved members will receive their new Elevate status through to April 30, 2013, and will have an opportunity to retain their status through the end of 2013 by earning sufficient status points by flying Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.
To status match, you have to do the following:
1. If you haven’t already, join Elevate.
2. Email email@example.com with your Elevate number and one of the following:
- A copy or screenshot of your most recent mileage summary showing your name and current elite level.
- Or, a copy of your membership card that identifies your name and current elite level in the United Air Lines or American Airlines frequent flyer program.
To match to Gold status, you’ll need to be either a United Premier 1K or Platinum, or an American Executive Platinum.
To match to Silver status, you’ll need to be a United Premier Gold or American Platinum member.
To keep your Gold status after April, you’ll need to earn 12,000 status points (equivalent of spending $2,400) – reduced to 5,000 status points for Virgin America Visa Signature cardholders.
To keep your Silver status after April, you’ll need to earn 8,000 status points ($1,600) – reduced to 3,000 points for Virgin America Visa cardholders.
Just as a reminder, Elevate elite perks include:
-Priority check-in, security clearance and boarding
-Points-earning bonuses (25% for Silver, 100% for Gold)
-Free checked bag allowances (1 for Silver, 3 for Gold)
-An expanded advance-purchase upgrade window for First Class (12 hours for Silver, 24 hours for Gold)
-Complimentary space-available upgrades to Main Cabin Select (12 hours for Silver, 24 hours for Gold)
-Complimentary access to newly designated enhanced seat assignments within Main -Cabin (rows 5, 6 & 9 on the A319, and 5,-7 & 9 on the A320), which will be called “Main Cabin Express” (other members will just have to purchase them for $20)
-Enhanced digital/social media rewards (such as earning double points by checking in at airports and other locations through Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare)
-15% discount on Main Cabin tickets (1 per year for Silver, 2 per year for Gold)
-No Elevate points redeposit fee for Gold
-No call center service fee
Normally, it takes 20,000 Elevate status points ($4,000 in flight purchases) within a calendar year to earn Silver status, while those who earn 50,000 status points ($10,000 in flight purchases) in a full calendar year achieve Gold status, so this is a significant discount on both levels.
All in all, I’m happy to Virgin America investing even more in its elite status program and making those valuable perks available to more and more fliers. I’ve never flown Virgin America, but am going to do a status match and requalify- always good to have options and I’ve heard universally good things about the airline (though I much prefer traditional frequent flyer programs). However, I don’t want to judge until I’ve experienced it all first hand so stay tuned for some trip reports.
As for using Virgin America status to match with other airlines- I haven’t heard of any airline recognizing it as a valid match partner, but it never hurts to ask! Check out the contact information for airline status match and challenges here– I’ll be doing an updated post on the topic shortly so stay tuned.