Virgin America, Emirates launch frequent flyer partnership

By Chris Chamberlin, October 23 2013

A new alliance between Virgin America and Emirates will allow their customers to earn and redeem points and miles for travel on either airline, in a move set to broaden the international reach of Qantas' primary international partner.

Effective immediately, members of the Virgin America and Emirates frequent flyer programs can earn Elevate points or Skywards miles across each carrier’s full network of destinations, with flight redemptions available from October 24. However, the hook-up doesn’t extend to the earning of Elevate status points or Skywards tier miles.

Also left off the list is the redemption of points for first class travel – Elevate members can trade their points only for business and economy class travel on Emirates, while Skywards members are limited to swapping miles for Virgin America's Main Cabin and Main Cabin Select fares. 

Review: Virgin America Main Cabin Select

Nor are status benefits such as lounge access and priority baggage handling included in the deal, making this a purely ‘earn and burn’ arrangement.

Mileage accrual for Skywards members is more generous than Elevate, which sees most economy fares on Emirates earning at just 20% of the miles flown – with travel in first class also earning at a reduced rate:

With the exception of the absolute cheapest Virgin America fares, Skywards members will achieve parity at a minimum, with fares in premium cabins earning at an increased rate:

Redemption rates also differ across the partnership.

Emirates’ Sydney-Auckland flights are available for 7,200 Elevate points in economy and 15,600 in business (plus taxes).

By comparison, Virgin America’s Los Angeles-Dallas flights (of a comparable length) go for 25,000 Skywards miles in Main Cabin (economy), and 37,500 miles in Main Cabin Select (plus taxes) – although this reflects the differing earning rates across the airlines.

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Virgin airlines...what a slag of a brand. It's ironical that they're called "Virgin"!

  • Virgin Atlantic: Delta (Skyteam)
  • Virgin Australia: Etihad (Non-alligned), SQ (Star), Air Berlin (OW)
  • Virgin America: Emirates (Non-alligned)

I know they're not all the same carrier but from a branding perspective, its incongruent and messy.

It gives the perception of being a flippant, uncoordinated and lightweight brand.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 335

Couldn't agree more!

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 213

What a mess

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 335

I also take issue with Virgin Australia's inconsistent product. Some services you get drinks and meals included, some you don't. On some it depends on the length of the flight or the time of the day, or the way you hold your tongue or whether it's a full moon or not. Seriously inconsistent. Something can be said for full service and LCCs. At least you know what you're getting when you purchase your ticket i.e. Qantas you get food, drink, baggage and on the opposite end of the spectrum with Tiger you purchase anything additional you would like, on top of your seat price. They are placed well in their respective markets. Virgin is just so confused in their offerings.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Well, they are virgins...

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 156

You left out Delta for Virgin Australia.

I agree, you would have thought that from a branding perspective there would be some consistency with partner arrangements.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 328

Virgin really is all over the shop. It's hard for frequent flyers to keep up with their offerings, let alone the average flyer.Too messy and inconsistent. With Qantas I know what I get each and every time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

"With Qantas I know what I get each and every time."

Indeed. I had three flights today, and all had the same seat fabric in Economy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Sep 2013

Total posts 469

May be try QF3/4-HNL,OLD aircraft,They fly 767 airplanes not configered and not the aircraft they list in there manage your booking.Not to menchion poor old ife,food service that is no patch with QF services to mainland USA,and uninterested veteran flight attendants who would rather be on wakiki.


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