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In an earlier post , we compared using Alaska miles for Virgin flights versus for Alaska flights. In most cases, it would cost fewer miles to fly on Alaska than on Virgin. But before you spend your valuable Alaska miles, there is one more option to consider – Virgin’s own Elevate program! You can still redeem Elevate points on Virgin flights!  So should you book Virgin America flights using Alaska miles or Elevate points? Let’s compare.

[SEE ALSO: Alaska Airlines published award chart for Virgin America flights ]

Using Alaska miles for Virgin flights within Continental U.S.

Here’s Alaska’s award chart on Virgin flights within the continental U.S.

  • Economy award starts at 7,500 Alaska miles for intra-state and 12,500 miles for out-of-state flights.
  • First class award starts at 15,000 Alaska miles for intra-state and 25,000 miles for out-of-state flights.

Alaska award for Virgin

Case #1 –  transcontinental flight SFO to JFK

To start, let’s look at Virgin’s transcontinental route between San Francisco and New York JFK airport. For the one-way flight on Saturday February 4, award seats are wide open as shown on Alaska’s website: one-way coach award at 12,500 miles and first class award at 25,000.

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Take a look at the cash fares. First class fares are super expensive. I would rather use 25,000 Alaska miles than paying $799, or even $1,299! Coach fares however are super-cheap at $119 one-way.  At that price, I would just pay cash instead of using 12,500 Alaska miles.

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But wait, how about the Elevate program? We can redeem the same flight using Elevate points. Because Elevate program is revenue based, a coach seat for that day would cost only 5,079 Elevate points. If you factor in the 1.3 transfer ratio from Elevate to Alaska MileagePlan, it is equivalent to about 6,600 Alaska miles. It is much cheaper than Alaska’s price of 12,500 miles!

On the other hand, a first class seat would cost as much as 62,708 Elevate points!  The same first class seat can be booked using only 25,000 Alaska miles!

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Conclusion? For this flight,  you would want to book coach award using Elevate points, and book first class award using Alaska miles!

Case #2 –  Intra-state flight SFO-LAX

Let’s look at a short flight between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Here’s the cash fare for February 4. It starts at $49 in coach and $169 in first class.

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-7-55-04-pm

The cheapest redemption using Alaska miles will cost 7,500 miles for a coach seat and 15,000 miles for a first class seat.

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But if you book using Virgin Elevate points, the same seat would cost as little as 1,661 points in coach and 7,522 in first class!screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-7-54-38-pm

Clearly in this case, the Elevate program wins out!

In conclusion, when booking Virgin flights, be sure to compare the cost of using Alaska miles versus Elevate points. Although you can now transfer Elevate points to Alaska MileagePlan, you may want to hold off unless you really need Alaska miles. The transfer is only one-way from Elevate to MileagePlan. You never know when Elevate points might come in handy!

 

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