Now, instead of being relegated to Portland and Seattle if you want to fly a decent airline and get full miles on a West Coast flight, everything has opened up. The Virgin hub in San Francisco means major East Coast cities -- New York, DC, Boston, Miami -- can go pretty much anywhere on the West Coast and still get full mileage credit. (On a superior airline, no less.) And with connections through Alaska flights, Virgin customers can now reach smaller airports all over the American and Canadian West.
Then, when you want to fly somewhere those two airlines don't go, you can redeem all those miles you racked up. You can even spend them, at full credit, on American. Funny how that works, AA.
Buckets of miles, plus easier rewards
For now, the merger of Alaska and Virgin looks like the rare mash-up that might benefit customers. Virgin miles, for instance, are credited at 100% on the Alaska Mileage Plan for even the cheapest fares, and up to 150% for the most expensive coach fares. That's literally four times the miles you'd get on other airlines. (A recent Miami-to-Seattle trip netted me 2,717 miles flying up on Alaska, and 635 coming back on American.)
You might think Alaska would jack up the cost of awards tickets to compensate for all the new miles it'll be awarding with the merger. Nah -- so far, so good. Alaska actually DROPPED the costs of awards travel, some dropping by more than half. HALF, Eddie. HALF.
Starting in January, you'll be able to apply those miles to Virgin flights as well. Worth it for the safety videos alone.