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Virgin America has recently announced the new Elevate frequent flyer program for cardholders with three levels that began on August 8, 2012. This enhancement to their existing program is exciting to see, especially considering the unique benefits like social media bonuses that are yet to be found anywhere else.
The elite program features three levels: Red, Silver and Gold. The first level is a basic status and you upgrade to Silver by earning 20,000 points (which is $4,000 in flight purchases) within one calendar year. Once you reach 50,000 points (or $10,000 in flight purchases), you’re upgraded to Gold. Points are earned by the dollar spent, not the miles you fly, so you’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent on airfare. You can also earn points by flying with partner airlines, which gives you a percentage of the base miles flown.
You can also earn bonus status points if you spend $25,000 or more in a single year with the Virgin America Visa Signature card. If you have a card with an annual fee, you’ll earn 10,000 status points, or only 5,000 status points if you don’t have an annual fee.
As an added bonus, the member who earns the most status points between the program launch and August 7, 2013 will receive a sub-orbital space flight on Virgin Galactic, a $200,000 value.
Benefits of the New Elevate Program
- 5 points per $1 spent on Virgin America flights and partner carriers
- Point bonuses of 25% for Silver and 100% for Gold
- 1 free checked bag for Silver; 3 for Gold
- Priority check-in, boarding and security clearance
- Improved advance-purchase upgrades for First Class – 12 hours for Silver tier and 24 hours for Gold level
- Free upgrades to Main Cabin select when space is available – 12 hours for Silver; 24 hours for Gold
- Free access to enhanced seat assignments within Main Cabin, now called Main Cabin Express
- Complimentary day passes to the airport lounge at LAX – 2 passes for Silver and 3 passes for Gold
- Silver and Gold members receive a dedicated reservation line, chat and email
- 25% off non-refundable Main Cabin tickets – 1 per year for Silver and 2 per year for Gold
- No redeposit fee for Gold
- No call center service fee for Silver and Gold
So, is the new Elevate program worth signing up for? Actually, yes. It’s a great program considering Virgin America is a low-cost carrier. They also hold up to larger carriers with free upgrades, bonus points and free checked bags. While many people have complained that Virgin America has a small route network, their previous lack of an elite program has been troubling and kept many from flying frequently with the carrier. The benefits are impressive, especially when combined with the Virgin Elevate credit card.