Good News: Virgin zaps point expiration

One of the most frustrating things about Virgin America’s frequent flyer program has been the fact that points expired after 18 months…even if you were flying Virgin all the time. That set it apart from most major airline programs that allow members to keep points as long as they do business with the airline at least once every 18 months.

Today, Virgin eliminated that frustration. Now, members of its Elevate program retain their points indefinitely, as long as they either earn or redeem points at least once every 18 months.

Elevate points will not expire as long as a member has at least one qualifying activity every 18 months. Qualifying activities include: purchasing Virgin America flights; completing Virgin America reward travel; earning Elevate points with partners like Avis/Budget and Hilton Honors; and accruing points via the Virgin America credit card or the Red store. Elevate members can earn free flights just by shopping online at the Red Store,

If you are not yet familiar with Virgin’s Elevate program, here are some key features:

  • No black-out dates – guests can redeem points for any available seat on any flight
  • Simple “points per dollar” system, instead of typical miles or segments flown
  • Members earn five points for every $1 spent on base fares and can book a free flight with as few as 2500 points
  • Visible “price in points” for booking flights online
  • Price in points varies based on class of service and seat availability
  • Ability to use points to book one-way travel and book any class of travel
  • Customized member profile to help speed bookings – go from flight to confirmation in just a few clicks
  • Points do not expire as long as member has earned or redeemed in the past 18 months
  • Members receive exclusive offers to unique Virgin America events, including past opportunities to fly with the Victoria’s Secret supermodels, tickets to the in-flight premiere of HBO’s Entourage and the chance to earn a seat on a Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space flight.

Stay tuned: More Elevate partnerships and rewards are planned to roll out later this spring. For more on Elevate or  visit Virgin America’s Web site.

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  • Steve Douglas-Craig

    While the above article sounds all purple, pink and fluffy with good news… but be careful because it it isn’t. Let’s go through key features shall we?

    No Black out dates – sure… accrue those points but be prepared to accrue them for years if you’re an economy paasenger – especially if you’re buying promo deals. Oh, and you can only redeem on flights… there’s no shop for other merchandise.

    Simple -pay per dollar – in others you better fly with us Business class if you want those points. Try building points with promo fares. sure you can book a flight for as little 2500 points… if you’re happy just flying anywhere instead of somewhere specific.

    Book any class of travel you want… just don;t buy base fares or fares that provide you with a deal.

    points don;t ever expire but if you’re a deal hunter then you may have to fly many times in order to accrue enough points for a meaningful flight – especially if you’re heading across country.

    Ultimately, the Elevate point system here is misrepresentative of what is actually applied when you fly. I recently completed an international Itinerary that took me to Australia on VAustralia (a Virgin company) then flew twice on Virgin Blue inside Australia (a virgin company) only to be told when I got back that I would not receive full points because I bought promo fares and traveled on airlines that weren’t owned by Virgin America (hello! They’re Virgin Companies. Also, I flew during a period where Elevate was offering double points and I still didn’t end up with enough points to fly to Vegas even! So… unless you’re prepared to fly full price with this company (or whomever their affiliates are if not Branson’s own airlines globally) then be prepared to be disappointed. Interesting fact – in order for me to get a free flight through Elevate from LA to Washington DC, I would have had to complete this itin. 12 times! Fly with another program… this one’s just that little too obviously elitist.