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When it makes sense to transfer Virgin points to Alaska miles (get Virgin First for 25k Alaska miles)

by on Mon January 9, 2017 • 2 Comments
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VirginAmericaInFlight5-HIRES

Alaska Airlines is taking over Virgin America, and you can now transfer points from your Virgin Elevate account into Alaska MileagePlan anytime.

  • Every 1 Virgin Elevate point gets you 1.3 Alaska miles, so, 10,000 Elevate points gets you 13,000 Alaska miles.
  • You can transfer as few or as many points as you want.
  • You can also now book Virgin America flights using Alaska miles, and the price using Alaska miles is often much less than with Virgin Elevate points, especially for First Class tickets across the country (just 25,000 miles one way / 19,230 Elevate points).

The catch is once you transfer Virgin Elevate points into Alaska, there’s no way to transfer back to Virgin, so you only want to do this when you’re ready to book an award.

Alaska and Virgin have very different mileage programs.

The price you pay for Virgin flights with Virgin Elevate points depends on the cash price of the ticket. Every point is worth about 2 cents, so a $300 ticket will cost about 15,000 points.

The price you pay with Alaska miles is always based on an award chart, that doesn’t change based on the cash price of the ticket.

You can use Alaska miles to book

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Aeromexico
  • Air France
  • American
  • British Airways (with fuel surcharges)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta
  • Emirates (no fuel surcharges)
  • Fiji Airways
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • Latam
  • Qantas

You can use Virgin Elevate points to book

  • Virgin America
  • Singapore Airlines (one segment at a time, so connections get charged separately)
  • Emirates (one segment at a time, and with fuel surcharges)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (some routes)
  • Virgin Australia

So go ahead and transfer your Virgin points to Alaska if you want to book a flight on Alaska or one of the partners not available with Virgin Elevate.

But don’t transfer your Virgin points to Alaska if you want to fly Singapore or Virgin Australia, since they’re not available with Alaska miles.

And for Virgin America flights, check the mileage price on both the Virgin America and Alaska websites before you book, because a transfer to Alaska might save you a lot of points.

Here’s the chart of prices Alaska charges for Virgin America flights booked with Alaska miles.

alaskavirginamericachart

These prices can sometimes be a really good deal (like 25,000 miles for a Virgin America flight from JFK to LAX / SFO in First Class, which often costs $600 – $1,000). At a 1:1.3 transfer ratio that’s just 19,230 Virgin Elevate points.

Other times it’s cheaper to book directly from your Virgin America account.

Here’s an example…

An Economy ticket on this Virgin America flight from JFK to LAX costs 5,568 Virgin Elevate points while a First Class ticket costs 52,940 points.

virginamericaprice

But if you book using Alaska miles, the prices are very different.

Economy is 12,500 miles (9,615 Virgin points transferred at 1:1.3), about twice as much, and First Class is just 25,000 miles (19,230 Virgin points transferred at 1:1.3), about half as much.

virginamericaalaskaprice

So you SHOULDN’T transfer your Virgin points to Alaska if you want to book the Economy ticket, but you SHOULD if you want to book the First Class ticket.

virginamericafirst

The easiest way to tell is to just pull up both sites side by side and do a search. Remember to take the price you see on the Alaska site and divide it by 1.3 to get the number of Virgin points you’ll need to transfer.

If you want to see how it all works out, this table shows what airfare makes it worthwhile to use Virgin points vs Alaska miles for flights within the lower 48…

AwardAlaska Miles neededVirgin points to transferTransfer is a good deal if the fare is more than
Main Cabin (one state)7,5005,769$115
Main Cabin (Tier 1, one state Tier 2)12,5009,615$192
First (one state)15,00011,538$231
Main Cabin (one state, Tier 3)17,50013,462$269
Main Cabin (Tier 2)20,00015,385$308
First (Tier 1)25,00019,231$385
Main Cabin (Tier 3), First (one state, Tier 2)30,00023,077$462
First (Tier 2)60,00046,154$923

And here’s how it works out on Virgin America flights to Hawaii ( it’s almost never worth it to transfer to Alaska from Virgin to book these flights)…

AwardAlaska Miles neededVirgin points to transferTransfer is a good deal if the fare is more than
Main Cabin (Tier 1)20,00015,385$308
Main Cabin (Tier 2)30,00023,077$462
First Class (Tier 1)40,00030,769$615
First Class (Tier 2)80,00061,538$1,231

The real deal here is to lock in transcontinental First Class on Virgin America for 25,000 Alaska miles, which you can easily earn by opening a new Alaska MileagePlan Visa Signature to get 30,000 miles plus a $100 statement credit.

Availability is pretty wide open, even during the busy summer months…

virginfirstjfklax

 

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2 thoughts on When it makes sense to transfer Virgin points to Alaska miles (get Virgin First for 25k Alaska miles)

  1. Scott

    Anybody had any luck booking these? I’ve tried 2 calls to AS to book 2 25k tickets LAX-JFK in June. Tried 4 different flights on 3 different days. The agent said that when he looks at it manually it shows the 25k price isn’t actually available – only the 60k price. He doesn’t know why it’s not updated on the AS website.

    Reply

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