Update 1/18/17: A reader reports that he tried to book San Francisco to Boston Virgin America First Class award space with Alaska miles–he tried various summer dates–and every time received an error message. When he called Alaska, a representative confirmed that there was no award space on the days he checked. Who knows if that will happen to you, but beware that the Virgin Atlantic First Class award space displaying on alaskair.com could be phantom.
Alaska Airlines and Virgin America merged earlier this month, and it’s now possible to redeem Alaska miles on Virgin America flights. Alaska’s prices to redeem on Virgin America are fixed and region-based, unlike the pricing system Virgin America uses which ties the award price to the cash price of the ticket.
Alaska Mileage Plan’s prices for redeeming on Virgin America are market standard domestic prices. But not only does Virgin America offer a nicer premium cabin product than the competition, it also releases more award space for it than what you’ll find being offered by the competition.
You can search for Virgin America award space and book it with your Alaska miles right on alaskaair.com.
For awards within the continental United States:
For award to Hawaii:
For awards to Mexico:
Redemption prices fall in line with the competition more or less.
What Virgin America excels in above the other domestic carriers is the overall quality of product offered. Virgin America’s First Class is nicer than the competitions’ domestic First Class.
Virgin America First Class
The chair is nicer and bigger than the other domestic carriers’ Domestic First Class (with a 55″ pitch). The food looks a lot better too–all First Class flights over two hours come with a complimentary meal.
The exception to Virgin America’s product being better than average is with transcontinental flights. Virgin America doesn’t offer a flat-bed option while the other three legacy carriers have transcontinental First Class with fully flat beds.
Plentiful First Class Award Space
What’s a great product if you can’t book it? Luckily that’s not a problem here and is probably the biggest pro with Virgin America. They offer much more premium cabin award space than the other domestic carriers’ whose Business and First Class on the popular routes can be harder to find than a needle in a haystack.
NYC > LA
Here’s next month’s award calendar for five travelers in First Class between New York and Los Angeles.
Every single day has at least five First Class award seats available. Many of the days have up to seven.
And here’s the same award calendar but for August.
Chicago > LA
Here’s next month’s award calendar for five travelers in First Class between Chicago and Los Angeles.
And here’s the same award calendar but for September.
San Francisco/Los Angeles to Honolulu
You’ll spend less Singapore (60k roundtrip) or Korean miles (45k roundtrip) to fly United BusinessFirst or DeltaOne to Hawaii, but there’s a decent amount of Virgin America First Class award space for one traveler to Hawaii this summer from the two cities they fly from (San Francisco and Los Angeles), and you can add a Virgin America or Alaska Airlines First Class flight from there to your hometown without changing the price of the award).
This award calendar is for one traveler in May between San Francisco and Honolulu. Not all days that say 40k have First Class saver space, but for example, nine out of the first 15 days in May have direct First Class award space for one person for the 40k price.
How to Get Alaska Miles
Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.
SPG points transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles, and both of the Amex SPG cards (personal and business) come with 25k bonuses.
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cards (personal and business) each come with 30,000 Alaska miles after meeting a $1k spending requirement and paying the $75 annual fee.
You can also buy Alaska miles, sometimes with pretty decent discounts.
You are now able to redeem Alaska miles on Virgin America flights within the United States (including Hawaii) and to Mexico. Prices are standard, but Virgin America’s premium product is generally better than what’s offered by competitors and there is more award space.