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Alaska Airlines’ merger with Virgin America closed late last year, and since then, the carriers have been working to integrate, including extending benefits to elite members of both Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America’s Elevate program. There’s still much to be done, but so far we’ve seen priority check-in, boarding and two free checked bags for Alaska elites flying Virgin, and an offer of 10,000 points to existing loyalty program members.

The next phase of the elite integration, scheduled for “summer 2017,” gives Alaska elites access to preferred economy seats and Main Cabin Select upgrades, along with an advance purchase window for first-class upgrades. And just on time, TPG reader and Alaska Airlines elite member Rob wrote in with a discovery this week:

Today I booked a flight online using my Chase Sapphire Reserve points while having an Alaska rep on the line. After booking, she was able to manually move me to a preferred seat for free. She said that’s already been in effect for a few weeks now. It’s a manual process through them for now, but they were told on August 24 it’ll be live for people to do themselves online.

VirginAmericaMainCabinSelect_HIRES
Alaska Main Cabin Select.

I confirmed with Alaska Airlines that elites can now select preferred economy seats and are eligible for Main Cabin Select upgrades — for now you’ll need to call in to Alaska to be assigned these premium seats, but online selection will be live on Thursday, August 24. Meanwhile, Alaska plans to inform elites of the change next Wednesday, August 30.

There’s no word yet on when the “advance purchase window” for paid first-class upgrades will be available to Alaska elites, but hopefully that’s on the way as well.

Have you managed to score a premium Virgin seat as an Alaska elite?

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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