Part 2 of my post for Virgin America Deconstructed. Click here for part 1.
It’s an curious thing to watch one airline acquire another. Here in the United States we’ve watched eight large airlines combine into four over the last ten years. Delta with Northwest, United with Continental, Southwest with AirTran and finally American with US Air. All of them were different in nature, and all four of these combinations created four modern behemoth carriers.
Earlier this year Alaska Airlines announced the wind down process for the Virgin America brand, as well as their loyalty program called Elevate. One of the items that was clearly communicated in this announcement was the actual end date for the Elevate program, December 31st, 2017. At that time Elevate would be ended, and all existing Elevate members would be converted into the Alaska Airlines Mileage Program.
Today Virgin America operated the first revenue inaugural flight of the Airbus A321neo aircraft. Flight VX1 took off from San Francisco at 8:00am PDT and landed five hours later at Washington D.C.’s Regan Airport. The occasion was celebrated by both Airbus and Virgin America with cake and balloons at the gate, and commemorative pins and key chains handed out during the flight. The A321neo is Airbus’s newest version of their popular A320 family of aircraft. Virgin America was the worldwide launch airline carrier for the new aircraft produced by Airbus.
Earlier this year Chase discontinued their Fairmont Signature Visa card and it was reported by William Charles at the Doctor of Credit site. I also wrote a quick post on the subject with a link to a still working application page.
I’ve stayed at a couple Fairmont’s including the Empress in Victoria and Le Château Frontenac in Québec City, both of which are wonderful. I’ve been interested in this card for a while and assumed I would get it later, after running through my last year of higher end status with Hyatt.
Realizing this opportunity might already be gone, I used the active link and applied immediately for the card for both Susan and myself. Susan was approved immediately, and then I was after a review. Three weeks later we received our welcome kits in the mail. One of the nice things about these cards is that they don’t fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule, and so my activity for the last 24 months didn’t preclude myself from picking up the card.
Virgin America has included new functionality into their website, which now includes Alaska Airline destinations and routes. The integration of Virgin America into Alaska Airlines has been progressing relatively fast, as far as airline integrations go.
I’m writing this post from The Loft, Virgin America’s lounge at LAX Terminal 3 on the night of May 10th. Tonight is the last night for this lounge to be open, and I happen to be flying into LAX this evening. Normally I would go directly from the airport to my go-to hotel at LAX, The Hyatt Regency. But since the club is closing I decided to stop by and pay one final visit, on the final evening of, Virgin America’s only lounge.
In an unannounced move Virgin America and Comenity Capital bank have shut down the links for new applicants to both the standard and “Premium” versions of the Virgin America Visa Signature Cards.
Virgin America is planning to launch its first flight of the Airbus a321neo aircraft on May 31st, 2017 on its San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Washington’s Regan National Airport (DCA). The airline has had orders on the Airbus a321neo since 2010, well before any plans of a merger with Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines is an all-Boeing fleet (except for the smaller Embraer E175s run under Horizon Air). Virgin America by contrast is an all Airbus fleet.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted about elite status, and what my strategy and plans are for airline frequent flying. I’ve held elite status with Delta for many years including both Diamond and Platinum levels. I still enjoy flying with Delta, and operationally the airline is very good. I also find the Delta front line employees to be some of the best. They genuinely enjoy their jobs, and most of the time I see it reflected in my interactions with them.