Starwood Is Dropping Virgin America Partnership as of January 6

Dec 28, 2016

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As the Alaska Airlines and Virgin America partnership moves forward, there are a lot of changes afoot. This morning, we heard from a Starwood Preferred Guest spokesperson about a major one: Starwood and Virgin America are ending their partnership as of January 6, 2017. Here’s the statement we received from Starwood about this change:

SPG has a long-standing partnership with both Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, and was excited to hear the news about the official close of their merger. This presents a great opportunity for Elevate members to join and enjoy all the benefits of Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan starting January 9th. Instead, SPG has decided to focus its partnership on Alaska Mileage Plan and end its partnership with Virgin America’s Elevate program. This means SPG members will no longer be able to earn Elevate points on hotel stays, or directly transfer Starpoints into Elevate accounts after January 6, 2017.

While Alaska and Starwood have been partners for a while, Virgin America is one of the newest partners of Starwood — having been added in April 2016. However, it’s not surprising that the partnership is coming to an end so soon now that the Alaska Airlines-Virgin America merger is complete, and the airline seemingly doesn’t want to drag out the process of combining the two mileage programs. Virgin Elevate points will be transferable to Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio starting January 9 — although we don’t know at this time when the transfer will become compulsory.

There will still be ways to use points to book first class...if this even happens.
Cathay Pacific first class for under 44,000 SPG points? Yes please. Image courtesy of Cathay Pacific.

That means you have just 10 more days to take advantage of a the SPG to Virgin to Alaska double transfer bonus. If you transfer 20,000 SPG points to Virgin America by January 6, you’ll be able to convert the 25,000 Elevate points into 32,500 Alaska miles starting January 9. Considering how lucrative the Alaska Mileage Plan is for partner business/first class redemptions, this double-transfer bonus creates some unbelievable sweet spots.

Today’s announcement comes with shorter notice than the end of the Citi ThankYou points and Virgin America Elevate partnership, which is scheduled to end January 22, 2017.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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