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Last month, Virgin America started offering elite flyers of American and United the chance to status match to the two elite tiers of its own Elevate points program. Though I don’t really think I’ll switch to Virgin America because their routes network isn’t extensive enough for me, I figured I might as well take advantage of the offer. I’ve never flown Virgin America, but I’ve heard great things, and I’ve been wanting to try it out for myself – but why do it as an everyday flyer with no elite privileges when I could just status match from the get-go?
All I had to do was send in an email with a screenshot from my American Airlines Executive Platinum account, which I did Friday, November 22, and I got an answer back exactly a week later on Friday, November 29, that my status had been matched.
As a reminder of how apply to status match, you have to do the following:
1. If you haven’t already, join Elevate.
2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
My Gold status is good until April 30, 2013, by which point I can extend it through the end of 2013 by earning status points for flights on Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia before your status expires. To keep my 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 (who also earn an additional 3 bonus points per $1 on Virgin spend).
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.
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
To be honest, American Airlines’ current Double EQM and miles promo is just too lucrative to pass up until it ends on December 31, 2012, but after that I’ll have four full months to fly Virgin and decide whether or not I want to keep my status.
Although Virgin America’s Elevate points are fixed-value points usually redeemable for between about 1.6-2.3 cents in value, I’ve been considering the program more lately because of American Express transfer bonuses, including the recent 50% one that ended last week, as well as the fact that you can use Virgin America points to redeem on both Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, as well as taking advantage of some potentially valuable redemptions on new partner Hawaiian Airlines, which I wrote about last week.
This also might be just the incentive I need to get the Virgin America credit card since it’s a Barclay’s card and I don’t have any open with that bank, so it’s an opportunity to expand my points portfolio – especially since the current sign-up bonus is 25,000 Elevate Points (20,000 with first purchase and 5,000 for a balance transfer within 30 days). That’s worth roughly $550, which is pretty decent in my book and after all, I always say, don’t put all your points in one account! While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.