Leaked Details of New Alaska Elite Benefits When Flying Virgin America
Update 3/6/2017: Alaska Airlines has officially released its calendar for the rollout of elite benefits on Virgin America, confirming our original story.
The webpage also confirms that those who use their Mileage Plan number on Virgin America flights can count those Virgin segments and miles towards their 2018 Mileage Plan elite status qualification. The same goes for Virgin flights, those who use their Elevate number on Virgin flights will have their miles and segments added toward their 2018 Mileage Plan elite status qualification.
Although the merger between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America closed in December, there's still a lot of work to be done combining the two airlines — particularly when it comes to elite benefits. When the merger closed, reciprocal priority check-in and priority boarding benefits were implemented almost immediately, but no other reciprocal elite benefits have been added or announced in the nearly three months since.
Thankfully, this aspect of the merger is taking a step forward soon, according to a leak we received. On Monday March 6, Alaska Airlines will announce new benefits for Mileage Plan elites when flying on Virgin America.
Here are some of the details that will be announced tomorrow:
Coming Spring 2017:
- 2 free checked bags
Coming Late Summer 2017:
- Complimentary access to preferred Main Cabin seating
- Eligibility for Main Cabin select upgrades
- An advance purchase window to buy first-class upgrades
As if it needed clarification, Alaska's announcement notes that:
At this point, AS and VX elite member experiences will differ depending on the operating carrier of their flight. For example, an AS elite flying on Alaska Airlines currently receives a complimentary Premium Class upgrade if available. However, if that same elite is flying on Virgin America, they do not qualify to receive a complimentary Main Cabin Select seat (VX's Premium Class equivalent).
Currently, the only benefits that Alaska elites (Gold 75K, Gold and MVP) enjoy while flying Virgin are priority check-in and priority boarding. So, these additional benefits are great news for Alaska Mileage Plan members. Once all of these announced changes are implemented later this year, it seems that priority security will be the only benefit that Virgin America elites have over comparable Alaska elites — aside from a third bag for top-tier Alaska Gold 75Ks.
This leaked announcement covers only additional benefits that Alaska elites will get when flying on Virgin America. It's unclear when reciprocal benefits will be added for Virgin America elites flying Alaska. Currently, Virgin America elites earn bonus miles, get priority check-in, priority boarding and have the opportunity to purchase a first-class upgrade when flying on Alaska.