Great news on my personal travel hacking front today. You may have heard about the merger between Virgin America Airlines and Alaska Airlines that went into effect recently. You can now book travel on Virgin America flights using Alaska miles, right from the Alaska website. Mileage Plan members can earn miles on Virgin flights and vice versa, and elite members of either plan may have some perks when they fly the other airline. As a long-time Alaska Mileage Plan member who lives in a location with no Virgin America flights, this may not have meant much to me… except for a little tip-off I got from a favorite blogger a few months ago. Mommypoints and her blog’s suggestion to create a Virgin America Elevate account and earn some miles by signing up for emails has netted me 10,000+ new Alaska miles due to this merger.
I have been a long-time Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan member. Years ago I got my first travel credit card, a Bank of America Alaska Airlines card, and have been accumulating miles through regular spending ever since. I had no clue about the world of travel hacking and playing the credit card sign-up bonus game, but I did earn free flights over time. And I did receive an Alaska Companion pass each year on my card anniversary, at the same time I had to pay my $75 annual fee. I have had the card so long that for the first couple of years, Alaska would send me a pass for a free use of their airport lounges. I wish I would have ever taken them up on that! They no longer offer the free lounge visit. And I don’t think I have ever been in an airport lounge, that bright utopian respite from the dreary layover wait or flight delay. I do aim to remedy that omission in my travel experiences this year. Anyhow…I have been earning and using Alaska miles in a desultory manner for lots of years.
So, fast forward to last September 2016. Mommypoints.com posted about two promotions from Virgin America that earned me 1,000 Elevate miles. All I had to do was sign up for two of their email newsletters. Being new to travel hacking I may have let this slide and ignored the potential for earning only 1,000 miles on an airlines that doesn’t service my city. But the blog mentioned the Alaska merger and explained that there may be some points overlap. Well, I’m glad I did. A few days ago I got an email saying that 10,000 miles had been deposited in my Alaska Mileage account due to the merger and me having an ‘active’ Virgin America Elevate membership (all 1,000 miles of it). Cha-ching. I can also transfer my Elevate miles over at a rate of 1,000 Elevate miles to 1,300 Alaska miles. With these boosts I now have enough miles for two flights to San Diego where our families live, or other destinations around the country. Thank you mommypoints.
This experience reconfirms one of my central tenants of travel hacking: always sign up and earn the points or miles. For every flight. For every hotel stay. For every free giveaway. At worst you never use the points and they are lost. At best, something like this can happen out of the blue, and it gets you one step closer to creative and affordable travel options.
How have you earned surprising travel perks?