It’s been quite the month for Alaska Airlines as they have found themselves on the front page of the travel blog-o-sphere several times for various reasons, including the merger with Virgin America, the divorce with Delta, and even for some program and in-flight enhancements that are becoming rarer to hear about in today’s world of constant takeaways.
I’ve been trying to pay close attention to all the news, and even still it has been hard to keep up. So in case you may have missed anything, here’s a consolidated summary of all the updates from Alaska Airlines over the past month to help get you up to speed.
Alaska and Virgin America have officially merged, Delta is officially out
- The merger between Alaska and Virgin is now official, which means that you can link your accounts and can transfer miles between the programs at a ratio of 1 Virgin mile to 1.3 Alaska miles
- The transfer only works one-way (Virgin America to Alaska), so as with all potential conversions, it is only recommended that you proceed as part of an immediate booking. Also, whether or not the transfer is a good deal or not will depend on your specific situation
- As an added bonus, if you had both Alaska and Virgin accounts open and active (within the most recent 18 months) then you should have 10,000 Alaska miles coming your way. I have not received mine yet, and suspect that it is due to issues linking my Alaska and Virgin accounts. If you have similar issues, check out this Flyertalk thread for tips or reach out to @AlaskaAir via Twitter
- As of April 30th, 2017, earning and redeeming miles on Delta will no longer be an option. While the loss of a partner is never great, most Alaska loyalists view the addition of Virgin with the loss of Delta still as a net gain
- Lastly, the merger creates new roundabout ways to convert credit card points into Alaska Airlines miles. Citi Thank You Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards are both transfer partners with Virgin America, albeit at a poor 2:1 ratio, while Starwood SPG points appear to be best at a 1:1.625 transfer ratio
Alaska Mileage Plan program enhancements
- Alaska updated its award redemption chart to include discounted short-haul awards that start at just 5,000 miles for flight distances under 700 miles, which even includes a free stopover!
- Elite members are now eligible for complimentary upgrades on award tickets on flights operated by Alaska, which even includes immediate upgrades at booking in some cases
- Lastly, mileage earning rates on partner flights got a huge upgrade, primarily for First and Business Class tickets. For example, the Cathay Pacific chart below shows that Business Class flights will earn an additional 100% mileage credit, or 200% additional for First Class. This means that an Alaska MVP Gold member taking a round-trip Business Class flight from SFO-HKG on Cathay Pacific would earn a whopping 45,000 miles for the round-trip!
- As if the enhancements above weren’t enough, Alaska also launched its new Free Chat service, which provides free in-flight messaging on platforms such as iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger via Gogo Wifi
- For a limited time through March 31st, 2017, Alaska is offering free unlimited streaming of its entire catalog of entertainment to passenger’s devices
- Finally, Alaska’s Premium Class service has made its debut on select routes. Premium Class seats include four inches of added legroom, along with early boarding, and complimentary alcoholic beverages and snacks. You can purchase Premium Class seats at booking, or hope for an upgrade.