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The End of Virgin America’s Elevate Program: What You Need to Know

SmarterTravel

Alaska Airlines’ acquisition of Virgin America closed on December 14, 2016, and it was announced earlier this year that on January 1, 2018, Virgin’s Elevate program would be discontinued, with members’ points automatically converted to miles in Alaska’s Mileage Plan shortly thereafter.

That left a lot of question marks, mostly concerning the status of Elevate’s marketing partners.

This week, the timeline for Elevate partnerships was released, revealing for the first time when the various earning and redemption opportunities will be discontinued.

For Virgin’s four airline partnerships (Emirates, Hawaiian, Singapore, Virgin Australia), the last day to earn or redeem points will be September 30.

September 30 will also be the final day to earn points with any of the participating Elevate car-rental companies, as well as the hotel partners.

And with very few exceptions, September 30 will the last day to earn points with the other Elevate partners as well.

So from October through the end of the year, Elevate will still be in operation, but only as a shell of its former self. Earn and redeem for Virgin America flights. Earn points for Alaska flights. And not much else.

The Elevate program was never among the strongest airline loyalty schemes — too few options for earning and redeeming points, for starters. And Alaska’s Mileage Plan is among the industry’s most robust programs. So Elevate won’t be much missed.

The same can’t be said of the airline itself, however. While Alaska is a fine carrier in its own right, it will never have the outsized personality and distinctive style that Virgin brought to an industry that is generally lacking in both those traits.

Reader Reality Check

Will you miss Virgin America when it’s gone?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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