Virgin America doesn’t have the most well-known award program, but due to their recent merger with Alaska Airlines (making it the fifth largest airlines in the U.S.), the Elevate frequent flyer program has garnered a little more attention
As a result of the merger, members can now transfer points from their Virgin America Elevate accounts to their Alaska Mileage Plan accounts at a 1:3 ratio. Unfortunately, transfers do not work the other way around.
There are definitely some instances in which frequent flyers would want to use their Elevate points and get a great value! Let’s go over the best redemption options here.
Table of Contents
- Using Virgin America Miles With Airline Partners
- The 14 Best Ways To Redeem Your Virgin America Points
- 1. Domestic Flights Within the Continental U.S. Starting at 5,000 Points One-Way
- 2. Flights From the U.S. to Hawaii for 10,000 Points One-Way
- 3. Los Angeles to Sydney on Virgin Australia for 80,000 Points Round-Trip in Business Class
- 4. Intra-Australia Flights on Virgin Australia for 9,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
- 5. San Francisco to Dubai on Emirates for 115,000 Points Round-Trip in Business Class
- 6. Dubai to the Seychelles on Emirates for 45,000 Points Round-Trip in Business Class
- 7. U.S. to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines for 20,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
- 8. Island Hopping Within Hawaii for as Few as 3,000 Points Round-Trip
- 9. Honolulu to Tahiti on Hawaiian Airlines for 50,000 Points Round-Trip in Business Class
- 10. New York to Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines for 20,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
- 11. Los Angeles to Tokyo on Singapore Airlines for 24,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
- 12. Houston to Moscow on Singapore Airlines for 60,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
- 13. Short-Haul Flights Within Asia for Just 6,000 Points Round-Trip
- 14. Transfer to Alaska at a 1:3 Ratio
- In Conclusion
Using Virgin America Miles With Airline Partners
Virgin America miles can be earned via a variety of credit cards, including Virgin America’s own co-branded credit card and any Membership Rewards-earning credit cards from American Express.
Virgin America is not part of an alliance, but it does have a number of airline partners. Additionally, remember you can now transfer your miles to Alaska Airlines and make use of Alaska’s award chart and partners.
Use VirginAmerica.com to price out awards on specific airlines. Then, you can use either ExpertFlyer or other airlines’ search engines to determine availability, and call 1-877-359-8474 to book an award.
Virgin America Credit Cards
There are 2 credit cards to help you build and use Virgin America points. Note that there is an annual fee of $49 for the basic card, and $149 for the premium card. These cards typically have a small sign-up bonus that comes along with them.
Another benefit that might be of interest is 20% off in-flight purchases, including entertainment.
|Loyalty Program||Credit Card Review|
|Virgin America Elevate Frequent Flyer Program||Virgin America Visa Signature Card|
|Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card|
American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards
Membership Rewards points can be transferred at a 2:1 ratio to the Virgin America Elevate program. The annual fee of each card varies, so choose one that has the most valuable benefits for you. Most cards also include a sign-up bonus, which makes the deal even sweeter!
List of Virgin America Partners
Virgin America has 31 airline partners:
|Virgin America Partners|
|Virgin Australia||Fiji Airways|
|Air China||Hawaiian Airlines|
|Air New Zealand||Iceland Air|
|Air Tahiti Nui||Japan Airlines|
|Alaska Airlines||Korean Air|
|Cathay Pacific||Philippine Airlines|
|China Airlines||SATA International|
|China Eastern Airlines||Scandinavian Airlines|
|China Southern Airlines||Singapore Airlines|
|El Al||South African Airways|
|Emirates Airways||Sun Country Airlines|
|Etihad Airways||Turkish Airlines|
|Ethiopian Airlines||Ukraine International Airlines|
Virgin America likely isn’t a program you are overly familiar with, but there are definitely some redemptions worth consideration, especially if you have easy access to miles via a Membership Rewards-earning credit card.
The 14 Best Ways To Redeem Your Virgin America Points
Compared to some other programs, Virgin America Elevate is a little bit tough to find quality information about. It’s not quite as easy to know what to expect when looking into flight options, so I’ve compiled a list of redemption options here for you!
1. Domestic Flights Within the Continental U.S. Starting at 5,000 Points One-Way
Virgin America utilizes a revenue-based award chart on its own flights, which means a more expensive cash flight will require more reward points to book.
Fortunately, they offer plenty of cheap flights across the U.S., so keep an eye on those sales!
For example, let’s search for a one-way transcontinental flight from San Francisco to New York City. As mentioned earlier, the cost in miles correlates to the cost in dollars, so your results may vary.
The cheapest one-way non-stop Virgin America flight I’ve found costs $119, or just 5,079 Elevate program points. In comparison, most domestic programs require 12,500 miles to redeem this route.
In this case, Virgin America offers a terrific redemption option!
Hot Tip: When flying around the U.S., you can improve your travel experience by getting lounge access with The Platinum Card® from American Express or free Boingo WiFi with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.
2. Flights From the U.S. to Hawaii for 10,000 Points One-Way
Again, because there’s no strict award chart, the cost in miles will depend on how good of a deal you can find on flights.
Let’s look at flying from San Francisco to Honolulu. A one-way sale ticket in February costs $219 (or 10,234 Elevate points) in economy, which is a steal. In comparison, domestic airlines typically charge 20,000-22,500 miles for a one-way flight to the islands.
It’s possible to save half of your miles by booking a Virgin America-operated flight!
The same flight can be found for 40,724 Elevate points in first class, which is competitive with domestic airlines. Redeeming Elevate points on Virgin America-operated flights in not the only option for your points, however.
Virgin America partners with the following airlines: Alaska, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Hawaiian Airlines, and Singapore Airlines. Booking award seats requires contacting a call center at 1-877-359-8474.
It is possible to book most of the awards as one-ways and build a multi-city itinerary with stopovers and open-jaws, but they cost slightly more than half of a round-trip award.
3. Los Angeles to Sydney on Virgin Australia for 80,000 Points Round-Trip in Business Class
The award for this city pair is rather generous! A round-trip flight costs 40,000 Elevate points in economy, 60,000 points in premium economy, and 80,000 in business class plus just $130 in surcharges.
However, award seats might not be available very far in advance; you can search for space on Delta.com.
One-way awards are priced slightly higher than half the cost of a round-trip award: a one-way costs 25,000 Elevate points in economy, 35,000 points in premium economy, and 45,000 points in business.
That same business class space booked with Delta Air Lines goes for 80,000 SkyMiles each way. The Virgin award, if you can get it, is clearly a winner for flying to Australia!
4. Intra-Australia Flights on Virgin Australia for 9,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
A round-trip between Sydney and Cairns, the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, comes to 9,000 Elevate points in economy class and 17,000 points in business.
Flying one-way costs slightly more than half of the round-trip award, coming to 5,500 Elevate points in economy and 10,000 in business. To compare, Delta charges 22,500 SkyMiles each way in economy and 40,000 SkyMiles each way in business class between these cities.
The award chart for flights within Australia is basically distance-based. For example, flying 5 hours round-trip between Sydney (New South Wales) and Perth (Western Australia) costs 16,000 Elevate points in economy and 27,000 in business class.
A one-way award requires 9,500 Elevate points in economy and 16,000 in business class. Again, Delta requires 22,500 and 40,000 SkyMiles in these respective classes of service.
5. San Francisco to Dubai on Emirates for 115,000 Points Round-Trip in Business Class
A round-trip flight between San Francisco and Dubai costs just 50,000 Elevate points in economy and 115,000 points in business class.
This seems pretty great at first glance! However, the carrier-imposed charges are rather steep on this route: $740 on economy flights and $1,410 on business flights. At these rates, you might be better off booking a flight with cash or using a different mileage currency.
One-way awards are available for 30,000 Elevate points in economy and 70,000 points in business class. The taxes also drop to $350 and $680, respectively.
What’s interesting is that when you book the same route originating in Dubai instead, the surcharges drop significantly!
For example, a round-trip in economy from Dubai to San Francisco adds just $280 in taxes and fees, compared to $740 in the opposite direction. One-way taxes drop to just $150.
Business class adds on $730 in taxes when originating in Dubai, instead of $1,410 when flying the opposite direction. One-way taxes on this route drop from $680 to $370.
6. Dubai to the Seychelles on Emirates for 45,000 Points Round-Trip in Business Class
It’s possible to fly between Dubai and the Seychelles—a route that often costs north of $1,000 for economy seats—using Elevate points. A round-trip flight costs 20,000 Elevate points plus $174 in economy and 45,000 points plus $420 in business.
For one-way flights, you’ll need 12,500 Elevate reward points in economy and 27,000 in business class. The taxes and surcharges cost $94 and $216, respectively.
7. U.S. to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines for 20,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
As seen earlier, flying between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii can be pretty cheap on Virgin America metal. However, because the cost in miles correlates to the cost in cash, you might not always be able to find a great deal.
Using Elevate program points to redeem for flights on Hawaiian Airlines-operated flights presents an opportunity to use a set number of points instead: 20,000 Elevate points in economy and 50,000 in business for a round-trip ticket between San Francisco and Honolulu, for example.
Flying from the East Coast becomes a little more costly. As per award chart, a round-trip ticket from New York City to Honolulu costs 35,000 Elevate points in economy and 80,000 points in business class.
This is still a pretty good deal, especially considering the taxes come to just $11.20 based on a round-trip booking.
8. Island Hopping Within Hawaii for as Few as 3,000 Points Round-Trip
Island hopping in Hawaii prices out the same for all the options. For example, Honolulu to Kona, Kona to Maui, or Maui to Lihue all cost just 3,000 Elevate reward points each way, or 6,000 points round-trip.
9. Honolulu to Tahiti on Hawaiian Airlines for 50,000 Points Round-Trip in Business Class
It is possible to fly from Honolulu to Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, located on the island of Tahiti. Virgin America requires 25,000 Elevate points in coach and 50,000 points in business class, plus $58 in taxes.
One-way awards cost just 13,000 Elevate points in coach and 30,000 in business, plus just $5.60 in taxes. This is a perfect option for those looking to fly one-way to Tahiti and on to Japan, New Zealand, or Chile after that.
10. New York to Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines for 20,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
Flying between New York City and Frankfurt using Elevate points seems crazy at just 20,000 points plus $147 per round-trip booking, but that’s how much it costs. This is a killer deal considering it’s a transatlantic flight!
It would be even better if you could book Singapore Suites with your Virgin America points. Although business and first class seats are listed for 59,000 and 90,000 points, respectively, they are rarely available for booking with partner miles like Elevate points.
Instead, you’ll likely need to book these redemption using KrisFlyer miles or another of Singapore’s partners.
11. Los Angeles to Tokyo on Singapore Airlines for 24,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
A flight between Los Angeles and Tokyo is listed at just 40,000 Elevate points plus $38 in economy. A one-way flight in economy costs slightly more than half that: 24,000 Elevate points and $20.
If you’re able to snag those business or first class seats, they require 95,000 and 130,000 Elevate points, respectively. But don’t hold your breath! Those seats are rarely, if ever, available to partners.
12. Houston to Moscow on Singapore Airlines for 60,000 Points Round-Trip in Economy
Redemptions like this cost about 60,000 points for a round-trip flight with most domestic frequent flyer programs. However, booking Houston to Moscow and back through Virgin America requires just 40,000 Elevate points plus $67 for a seat in economy.
Again, business class or first class might not be available for booking.
13. Short-Haul Flights Within Asia for Just 6,000 Points Round-Trip
Redeeming miles for short intra-Asia flights can be a great use of your rewards. Depending on the cash cost of the flight, you might save quite a bit!
For example, flying from Singapore to either Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, or Denpasar (Bali) requires just 6,000 Elevate points for round-trip flights, or 3,600 points for one-way flights.
Business class requires 13,000 points round-trip or 7,800 each way. First class costs 17,000 reward points round-trip or 10,200 one-way.
Additionally, premium seats are much easier to book on these short-haul flights than on long-haul flights mentioned earlier.
14. Transfer to Alaska at a 1:3 Ratio
As mentioned previously, it is possible to transfer your Virgin America miles to Alaska Airlines at a 1:3 ratio, but you won’t be able to transfer back in the other direction.
Alaska Airlines has a bunch of great redemptions, and this ability to transfer gives your miles even more value and flexibility!
Hot Tip: If you’re transferring to Alaska Mileage Plan, you can earn even more points by transferring from SPG. You could use cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.
Even though you probably aren’t as familiar with the Virgin America Elevate program as you are with other airlines like United and American, there are clearly some good redemption options available.
It is definitely worth your time to consider these redemptions when you are ready to book your next trip, especially if you have American Express Membership Rewards points at your disposal!
Additionally, if you’re looking to earn some miles through credit cards that aren’t issued by the main 3 providers (American Express, Chase, and Citi), the Virgin America credit cards are also worth serious consideration.