Future of Mileage Plan and Elevate loyalty programs
Starting on Monday, December 19, Alaska will begin to allow Mileage Plan members to earn miles on Virgin America flights. Likewise, members of Virgin America Elevate will be able to earn points when flying Alaska.
It has not yet been announced if miles will be able to be transferred between programs. So far there are not announced plans to combine the two programs. So no way (yet) to combine points/miles banks.
According to Alaska, on January 9 Virgin America Elevate members will “be invited” to activate their Mileage Plan accounts with Alaska.
Elite members on each airline will receive reciprocal check-in and boarding privileges as well starting December 19.
No word yet on what will happen with Virgin America’s airline partners – Virgin Australia, Hawaiian Airlines and Singapore Airlines. My guess would be that the Hawaiian partnership (at least) will disappear quickly as Hawaiian is a direct competitor to Alaska.
UPDATE: During the press conference, Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines EVP and CCO said that Virgin America Elevate Gold Members will be have access to Alaska Lounges. I don’t know if he misspoke. Currently Elevate Gold members do have access to the Virgin America Loft at LAX.
UPDATE 2: As of now, there is no plan for for an automatic status match from Alaska’s Mileage Plan to Virgin America’s Elevate, an Alaska Airlines representative told me. I’m guessing Alaska doesn’t see the necessity since Elevate will presumably be phased out in the future.