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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?

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