Virgin America Elevate: Silver Status
Virgin America offers a frequent flyer program called Elevate. Passengers earn points based on the fare amount they paid for their flight rather than the traditional earning rate of the # of miles flown. The earning rate is 5 points per $1 spent on the base fare (excludes taxes). For example, a paid fare of $102.10 will only earn you 410 points as the base fare is $82. Elevate has 3 tiers: Red, Silver and Gold. In order to earn Silver status you must earn 20,000 points within a calendar year which is equivalent to $4,000 base fare spend. I was able to achieve Silver status with just $1,000 of base fare spend as the Virgin America Premium Visa card allows you to earn 15,000 status points when spending $30,000. The Premium Visa card was a new offering in January 2014 and I was able to attain Silver status for my 1st time since 2007 in July 2014. My status is now valid until February 2016 (remainder of the year you earn it in and the entire next year) and any status points earned over 20,000 required rollover into the next year. With Virgin America being my favorite domestic airline it was a no brainer to signup for their Premium Visa card.
Silver status has many benefits but the most valuable one in my opinion are the complimentary Main Cabin Select (MCS) upgrades based on availability @ 12 hours prior to the flight. Below are the stats based on my experience since earning Silver status in July 2014.
VX Silver MCS Upgrades 2014:
SFO-FLL: 1/1 ($170 option for 1st, purchased)
VX Silver MCS Upgrades 2015:
LAX-SFO: 1/1 ($50 option for 1st)
SFO-LAS: 1/1 ($50 option for 1st, purchased)
The results are mixed and have varied depending on the day I was traveling, the route and time of year. Main Cabin Select offers the same physical seats as Main Cabin but located at bulkhead or exit row, unlimited food & drinks and unlimited movies & premium TV which makes the flying experience just that much nicer.
Other benefits that Silver status offers include:
-Complimentary Main Cabin Express (Rows 4-9) seats at time of booking (nice to be at the front…)
-Priority baggage handling (1st bags out of the carousel)
-1 Free checked bag (you can get this with the Premium Visa card and it’s not stackable)
-Earn 25% more points (who wouldn’t want more points?)
-Upgrade to 1st class @ 12 hrs prior to the flight rather than 6 hrs normally
-Dedicated phone line for customer service (short wait times and well-educated representatives)
-25% off 1 ticket per year (nice discount!)
-Priority security (I use TSA PreCheck so no value to me)
-Priority boarding and check in (Anything to cut wait times is valuable in my opinion)
-2 Free LAX Loft Lounge Passes (I use Priority Pass, an AMEX Platinum benefit, to gain entry but these will be nice for guests)
-Luggage tags (I proudly market/promote my favorite domestic airline)
Overall, I find Silver status to offer excellent perks and would love to enjoy Gold status but the required spend is too high for me. With limited routes it makes it a hard sell for most but if you can take advanatge of flying Virgin America I would highly recommend going for Silver status. The credit card earning option makes it much more attainable for some who have high spend. I’m saving up my points for more international partner (Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines) award redemptions 🙂
*Tip: You can status match from other legacy airlines to instantly earn status with Virgin America by applying here: https://www.virginamerica.com/cms/elevate-frequent-flyer/status/status-match. It also worked for me recently the other way by using Virgin America Silver status to attain Hawaiian Airlines Pualani Platinum status for my upcoming Hawaii trip.*