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In this photo released by Alaska Airlines, A specially painted, co-branded Alaska Airlines and Virgin America 737-900ER aircraft, painted in shimmering red, purple and blue and featuring the slogan “More to love,” lands at San Francisco International Airport on December 14, 2016 in San Francisco, CA. The newly painted aircraft is part of the merger celebration of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. (Photo by Alaska Airlines, Bob Riha, Jr.) Early this month, soon after Alaska completed its merger with Virgin America, the transfer ratio between Virgin Elevate and MileagePlus was announced:  each Virgin Elevate points will be converted to 1.3 Alaska miles. Immediately, there were lots of buzz about the best way to maximize the 1.3 transfer ratio. Most of it centered around transferring SPG points to Virgin Elevate points first – each 20,000 SPG points translate into 25,000 Elevate points, which later can be converted into 32,500 Alaska miles. Essentially 1 SPG points becomes 1.625 Alaska miles. That is pretty awesome!

A friend of mine is planning to take her family of four to Singapore and Hong Kong next Christmas. She does not have any American Airline miles or Alaska miles, but she does have over 200,000 SPG points. We have been discussing her alternatives over the past month, knowing that she prefers to fly Cathay Pacific from San Francisco (fortunately we live in the Bay Area). The new Alaska award chart on Japan Airline couldn’t possibly come at a more perfect time – now she can also get there from San Francisco via Tokyo.  Both Cathay Pacific and Japan Airline often release 4 to 5 award seats in business class, but we must book as soon as schedule opens in mid-January. Our plan was to take advantage of Alaska’s 40% bonus before December 31 to buy remaining miles that she will need after converting her SPG points to Alaska Miles. We have two options.

Option #1: SPG to Marriott to Alaska

Knowing that we can transfer SPG points to Marriott Rewards, we spent a lot of time looking at Marriott’s Flights and Hotel package. Hotels in Singapore and Hong Kong are both very expensive, so the package really got our attention, but not without concerns:

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  • Transferring 120,000 SPG points to 360,000 Marriott points will get her120,000 Alaska miles plus 7 nights at a Category 8 Marriott hotel (most Singapore & Hong Kong Marriott hotels are Category 8).
  • The BIG problem is the seven nights need to take place within one-year over consecutive nights at one hotel!
  • It is unlikely that she will stay 7 nights in either Hong Kong or Singapore; 4 nights each is more likely.
  • She could use those 7 nights for a trip to places like Hawaii, but most likely not within 2017!
  • To make it more complicated, she needs two rooms for the family.

Option #2 – SPG to Virgin to Alaska

This came up when it was announced that Virgin Elevate will soon transfers to 1.3 Alaska miles. The same 120,000 SPG points can be transferred to 150,000 Elevate points, and later to 195,000 Alaska miles. That is 75,000 more miles than Marriott flights but no hotel nights.

One Dilemma!

Yesterday we found out that Starwood is dropping Virgin Elevate as transfer partner on January 6, 2017, only one week away! We now find ourselves facing one big dilemma with a tight deadline!

Should we transfer SPG points to Virgin Elevate, or should we convert them to Marriott points for Flights and Nights? The difference is 75,000 more Alaska miles versus 7 nights at Category 8 hotel which we cannot take full advantage of?    Apparently there is also a secret 5-night package but there is no guarantee we can book it — 300,000 Marriott points for 120,000 Alaska miles plus 5 nights at Category 8 hotel. We would still face the same dilemma!

What would you do? Are there any other options we should consider?

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