The new frequent flyer relationship between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, which came about after the closing of the two airlines’ merger agreement, has created a ton of new opportunities for frequent flyers of both airlines. Virgin America members can now earn and redeem miles on Alaska, as well as status match into Alaska Mileage Plan.
However, one of the most exciting developments for Alaska Airlines frequent flyers/those who wanted to get a crap ton of Alaska miles were the new (indirect) points transfer opportunities. Due to the ability to transfer points between Alaska and Virgin, Alaska Mileage Plan members could transfer points from Citi Thank You and American Express Membership Rewards points (the two major flexible points currencies) into their Alaska accounts (via their Virgin America Elevate), which wasn’t possible previously. Additionally, Starwood Preferred Guest (the loyalty program of Starwood Hotels) Starpoints could be transferred to Virgin America at a 1:1 ratio, and for each 20,000 points you transfer you get a 5,000 point bonus. Starpoints transfer to both Virgin and Alaska at a 1:1 ratio, though Elevate points transfer to Alaska at a 1.3 ratio. This, combined with the 5,000 point bonus, means that for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to Alaska via Virgin America, you would get 32,500 Alaska miles, which is a great deal.
However, this deal won’t be around for much longer: as of January 6, 2017, Starwood will be ending their transfer relationship with Virgin America. While this may have been motivated by the fact that you can transfer points between Alaska and Virgin freely, rendering the ability to transfer directly to Elevate redundant, I don’t think Starwood didn’t notice the fact that people were getting 30% more miles than they would if they had transferred their points directly to Alaska.
The Starwood/Virgin relationship should end in 9 days, so you still have plenty of time to transfer your points if you need to. While this wasn’t the most surprising thing that could have happened, this is certainly unfortunate, as Starwood-Virgin transfers were one of the best ways to get Alaska miles. American Express is now the only Virgin non-airline transfer partner remaining, so we’ll have to see if they end their relationship too…