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When the Alaska Airlines-Virgin America merger closed last week, we got answers to quite a few questions. However, one of the biggest outstanding unknowns was “What’s the transfer ratio going to be from Virgin America to Alaska?” Today, we’ve got the answer.
There’s been no formal announcement about the rate change; instead, Virgin America has made a rather understated change to one of its webpages noting the following:
On January 9, 2017, we will invite you to enroll in Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan, enabling access to book award travel on Alaska Airlines and Alaska Global Partners network to over 900 worldwide destinations. Plus, you’ll receive more detail on how you can convert your Elevate points to Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per Elevate point. And for elite-level Elevate members, Alaska Mileage Plan will automatically match your elite status!
That’s right, you’ll be able to transfer Virgin America Elevate points to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles at a 1 to 1.3 ratio. According to TPG’s latest valuations, this is a solid transfer ratio. Elevate points are redeemable at somewhat of a fixed rate. In our testing of award options between NYC-LAX, Elevate redemptions fell between 2.05 and 2.33 cents per point. For award options between LAX-SFO, redemptions ranged from 2.1 to 2.58 cents each.
Meanwhile, we value Alaska miles at 1.8 cents each, although you can get much more value out of business or first class flights on partners. The 1:1.3 transfer ratio means you’re getting around 2.34 cents of value from each Elevate point. This is higher than our valuation range for Elevate points (1.5-2.3) and comparable with the value we found from our testing.
This also opens an interesting transfer opportunity. Virgin America’s Elevate program is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest. Also, the Starwood-Marriott merger means that you can transfer between those programs at a 1:3 ratio. This new transfer option means that you’ll soon be able to transfer from Marriott to Starwood to Virgin America to Alaska!
|Marriott points||Starpoints||Elevate points||Alaska miles|
|Transferring 20,000 Starpoints||60,000||20,000||25,000||32,500|
With the exception of Marriott points to/from Starpoints, this transfer will only be able to go one-way. You aren’t able to transfer Elevate points to Starpoints and it seems you won’t be able to transfer Alaska miles to Elevate points.
One mystery still remains: While this website change was a golden opportunity for Alaska and Virgin to note how Elevate elite members will match to Mileage Plan, this is still to be announced. But, the good news is that a match has been confirmed — which we’ve been waiting to formally see. There will be a status match opportunity in the days or weeks to come.
This 1:1.3 transfer ratio is a generous move by Alaska Airlines, which could probably justify a 1:1 ratio. This move further demonstrates that the new Alaska doesn’t want to alienate Virgin America loyalists. Also, this transfer ratio opens up many lucrative options for transferring Starpoints to Alaska miles.
H/T: One Mile At A Time
Featured image courtesy of Alaska Airlines.
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