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My Virgin America Gold Status Begins… Now What?

by on December 3, 2012 · 9 comments

in Elite Status, Virgin America

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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 [email protected] 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 match confirmation.

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!

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  • http://twitter.com/chanbott chanbott

    I’m interested to hear your opinion of Virgin America after you fly. I had high expectations, but prefer JetBlue. VX is definitely stylish but has 2″ less seat pitch (I’m 6’4″) and Jetblue’s freebies are superior (entertainment and food).

  • janakj

    Virgin’s pretty nice, but they have two “hubs”: SFO and LAX. Unless you fly to them regularly, you’ll find it limiting. For example, from the Miami area, you have to use FLL, and can only fly to those two hubs.

    After flying both them and AA for a while, I ended up sticking with AA, given more partnerships and hub destinations. And, AA has PreCheck; Virgin doesn’t (and I have no idea if the TSA is going to partner with Virgin anytime soon).

    And, as chanbott mentioned, their seats are pretty compact. I’m 5’5″, and I fit in their coach seats fine, but I think you’ll find it limiting. Given their extremely small business (“first”) allocation (i.e., 8 seats per flight) and two “premium economy” rows (bulkhead and exit), you have total of 20 possible reasonable seats. If you’re like me and only fly aisle in coach, that gets reduced to 12. Availability of these seats, especially on routes to LAX, is very dicey; Virgin’s “cool” vibe means various stars tend to buy those seats up.

    I’d be curious to see what Gold gives you in terms of premium availability. Keep us posted!

  • Guy

    Brian,

    Any chance you could post what you sent to Virgin (with the obvious details blurred out)? I’m not exactly sure what to send them.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kshtofman Kevin Shtofman

    I am Elevate Gold and enjoy the perks quite a bit. I will say from experience (I have flown DFW to SFO almost every week since September) the difference between Gold and Silver is really important when trying to upgrade, especially now that Status Match will be in play. Upgrading is easy 12 hours before the flight, but near impossible 2-3 hours before….
    I will say that over the past couple weeks I’ve flown AA since I’m Platinum and I’d be an idiot not to get Double EQM through December.
    In January, I plan on switching every other week, since the movies and food options only seem to cycle through every 6-8 weeks on Virgin. For those flying to SFO, AA and Virgin both fly into Terminal 2, which is easily the nicest terminal (other than International).

    Just my two cents…

  • thepointsguy

    I just went to my main AA.com AAdvantage statement which showed my EQM/EQP to date and took a screen shot and attached it to an email. Just make sure it shows your current status level and how many miles youve flown year to date and you should be fin

  • thepointsguy

    Yea.. I like JetBlue (especially Dunkin coffee, which is better than most airline coffee sludge). However, I’m excited to hopefully upgrade, since I’m not looking forward to a regular coach seat.. Stay tuned!

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