Alaskan Airlines buys Virgin America

Virgin America recently began promoting themselves for sale, with this there were two airlines, namely Alaskan Airlines and JetBlue which sought to purchase Virgin America. It has now been announced that Alaskan Airlines has been the successful candidate and will purchase the airline. So where do we go from here in terms of frequent flyer programs?

A decision has been made that the Virgin America Elevate frequent flyer program will eventually be discontinued in favour of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Program. The dates for this conversion have not yet been confirmed, nor the details on how this conversion will take place and affect Virgin America Elevate members.

An email was sent to Virgin America Elevate members which reads;

“Dear Elevate Member,

I wanted to write to let you know that we announced today that Virgin America has agreed to be acquired by Alaska Airlines. With complementary West Coast-based networks and similar cultures focused on guest service and operational efficiency, the joining of the two carriers will not only create a stronger and more competitive airline, it will create a leading guest experience for travelers like you – while also significantly expanding your flying options across a larger network of destinations in North America and across Alaska Airlines’ robust international partner network.

Nearly nine years ago, we set out to build an airline from the ground up with the guest in mind, an airline that reinvented the flying experience, and that actually made air travel fun again. Thanks to loyal flyers like you, I believe we delivered on that brand promise. You’ve helped us sweep the travel awards every year since our launch, grow to four million Elevate members, and in the past few years achieve strong financial results. Even so, our industry has become increasingly consolidated with each passing year. In fact, today just four airlines control more than 80 percent of the U.S. market. By joining forces with Alaska Airlines – an airline that is also known for its leading operational performance and guest-focus – we are creating the best airline in North America and one with the size and market share necessary to compete in this consolidated environment.

The transaction, which we expect to take several months to close, is subject to approval by regulators, Virgin America shareholders and other conditions. In the meantime, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines will continue to operate as two independent companies. Our current Elevate frequent flyer program will remain in effect until that time. We will be providing you with updates as we move closer to completing the transaction, but please know that both companies are committed to ensuring that this merger will have no impact on your flying experience. After transaction close, both airlines will work to integrate the Virgin America Elevate program into the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ program with no disruption to your earning or redemptions.

We will be sharing additional details in the months to come, but in the meantime you can find more information about your Virgin America benefits, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ program, and the combined carriers’ larger network on and at Alaska Airlines’ transaction website:

As the only airline headquartered in California, Virgin America has always been intent on shaking up the status quo in the airline industry. Our goal has been to do no less than reinvent the flying experience for the better – with innovative amenities and milestones like being the first airline to offer fleetwide WiFi and power outlets. We believe that by teaming up with Alaska Airlines – an airline also known for its stellar on-time performance, customer loyalty and guest-friendly brand – we will not only continue our mission to make flying enjoyable again, but we will do so on a much broader scale.

Thank you for flying with us – and we look forward to seeing you on even more flights in the future.


David Cush
President and CEO of Virgin America ”

Worth noting is that when these airlines merge their frequent flyer programs it will be interesting indeed to see which airlines stay partners and which ones may go as a result of the merger. The partners of each airline are listed below. (Bold meaning both share the same partner airline)

Alaskan Airlines

  • Aeromexico
  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Iceland Air
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • LAN
  • Qantas
  • PenAir & Ravn Alaska (Regional Partners)

Virgin America

  • Virgin Australia
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Aeromexico
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Aisana Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines
  • El Al Israel
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Etheopian Airlines
  • Eva Air
  • Fiji Airways
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iceland Air
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LAN
  • Philippine Airlines
  • SATA International
  • Scandanavian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • TAM
  • Turkish Airways
  • Ukraine International Airways

In all, it will be an interesting conversion process for Alaskan Airlines to take over Virgin America, not just with respect to frequent flyer programs but also with aircraft as Alaska fly the Boeing 737 and Virgin America fly the Airbus A320, as well as everyday operations; both airlines are very sucessful at what they do, for different reaseons each, heres hoping the best of both come together to make an even greater airline.