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First Class Upgrades and More Coming to Alaska Airbus Aircraft

April 09, 2018
3 min read
First Class Upgrades and More Coming to Alaska Airbus Aircraft
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As the integration of Alaska and Virgin America moves along, we are seeing more positive developments for Alaska fliers. The Virgin America brand officially goes away later this month when all flights will be marketed as Alaska operated, even though the two airlines came under one operating certificate in January.

Starting April 25, Alaska elites will be eligible for complimentary upgrades to first class seats on Virgin America Airbus aircraft. Additionally, Alaska elites will also be able to select Virgin's Main Cabin Select seats at booking because they will now be listed as Alaska's "Premium Class" seats. Before, Alaska elites were only eligible for upgrades to preferred economy seats — Main Cabin Select are Virgin's extra legroom economy seats that come with amenities like free snacks and alcoholic drinks.

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Essentially, Alaska is standardizing its MileagePlan elite benefits across all its aircraft.

Once Virgin flights "become" Alaska flights, upgrade rules change for the better when you're on an Alaska Airbus aircraft (what was Virgin's fleet). Before Alaska elites could only upgrade on Alaska's Boeing aircraft. Now Travel Codex reports that those with Alaska status will be able to select Main Cabin Select seats in advance according to these rules:

  • MVP Gold 75K: All fares eligible for an immediate upgrade to Premium Class.
  • MVP Gold: Y, Z, S, B, M, H, Q, L, V N, and K fares are eligible for an immediate upgrade to Premium Class. Other fares may clear within 72 hours of departure.
  • MVP: Y, Z, S, and B fares are eligible for an immediate upgrade to Premium Class. Other fares may clear within 48 hours of departure.

Before the rule change, fliers could only upgrade to Virgin's first class via paid upgrade, and Virgin elites received discounts on those paid upgrades. Now, elite flyers can score complimentary upgrades to Alaska first class on old Virgin Airbus aircraft. These aircraft have eight spacious first-class seats, although Alaska plans on retrofitting Virgin Airbus aircraft with Alaska's redesigned higher density first-class cabins.

Virgin America's spacious first-class seat, note the legroom.

Upgrades are awarded based on fare class and elite status — so the higher status you have and the more premium ticket you've purchased, the better chance you have for an upgrade. Travel Codex also points out that MVP Gold and 75K elites can now use their Gold Guest upgrade certificates on the pre-merger Airbus planes.

Featured image by Virgin America's first-class cabin features recliner seats.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases