BOSTON, July 23, 2012 (Virgin America PR) – Today, at this year’s Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention, Virgin America announces a suite of enhancements to its Elevate® frequent flyer program that promise to make travel even more rewarding for the airline’s most loyal guests.
As of this summer, the airline’s top flyers can enjoy new Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver status levels within the program, with perks that include: priority check-in, security clearance and boarding; points earning bonuses; free checked bag allowances; enhanced digital/social rewards; private discounts; an expanded advance purchase upgrade window for the airline’s exclusive eight-seat First Class; complimentary space-available upgrades to the carrier’s premium Main Cabin Select service; and complimentary access to the best seat assignments within Main Cabin.
Today, Virgin America also announces that in keeping with its mission to elevate the travel experience – and the concept of loyalty rewards – to new heights, the Elevate member who earns the most status points between August 8, 2012 and August 7, 2013, will earn the ultimate roundtrip flight reward*: a sub-orbital space flight on Virgin Galactic. These Elevate enhancements, which go into effect August 8, 2012, are timed to coincide with the airline’s fifth anniversary.
“As we prepare to mark our five-year anniversary, we wanted to roll out a new level of benefits to the loyal business and leisure travelers who got us where we are today,” said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. “Since Virgin America’s launch, our goal has been to reinvent domestic flying for the better, whether through inventive cabin amenities or a no black-out date loyalty program – which in 2007 was something unique in the domestic industry. We’ve been fortunate enough to attract a loyal guest following, and are pleased to take Elevate to the next level by offering meaningful new benefits for our most valued travelers.”
Since its launch in 2007, Virgin America has grown a passionate following of flyers for its unique blend of low fares, topnotch guest service and upscale amenities. The airline has swept the major travel awards, including: “Best U.S. Airline” in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the past four years; “Best U.S. Business/First Class” in Conde Nast Traveler Business Travel Poll for the past four years; and “Best Domestic Airline” for the fifth consecutive year in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards.
Elevate members who earn 50,000 Elevate status points** in a full calendar year will achieve Elevate Gold status and members who earn 20,000 Elevate status points** in a calendar year will achieve Elevate Silver status. Qualifying existing members will automatically receive Elevate Gold or Elevate Silver status as of today, in recognition of their cumulative flight activity over the past year, enabling them to use the new benefits as of August 8, 2012 through 2013. Elevate status points can be earned for purchased flights with Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, and for select purchases made with the Virgin America Visa Signature credit card.
The new Elevate status levels also offer enhanced social rewards. As the only airline based in Silicon Valley, Virgin America was the first U.S. airline to award frequent flyer points for virtual “check-ins” via Topguest, a product of Switchfly, Inc. Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver members will now be able to earn double points*** by virtually ‘checking in’ at the airline’s airport terminals, gates and other locations through applications like Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare. Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver members will be able to obtain a physical membership card as well as a digital badge – which is share-able via social networks. The latter will allow status members to earn 3,500**** Elevate Reward points just by referring qualified new friends to Elevate via their social networks.*****
In addition to both the expanded advance purchase upgrade window for Virgin America’s exclusive eight-seat First Class and complimentary advance upgrades for the carrier’s premium Main Cabin Select, the airline will begin designating the most sought-after seats in its Main Cabin – seats in rows five, six and nine aboard the Company’s Airbus A319 planes and rows five, six, seven and nine aboard A320 planes for status members. Starting later this summer, Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver members will have complimentary access to these “Main Cabin Express” seats at the time of booking. Elevate Red members and all other guests will also be able to purchase Main Cabin Express seats at booking, as available, for an additional $20 on the base fare. In addition to a premium confirmed seat, the service will include priority boarding privileges and preferred overhead bin space. Main Cabin Express seats that remain unsold 24 hours prior to flight will be free of charge as available seats for all guests at check-in.
In 2011, the airline launched a ‘beta’ test of status benefits to a select pool of its top frequent flyers.
“We’re excited to add these new benefits to Elevate in response to direct feedback from our members,” added Phil Seward, Director of Guest Loyalty at Virgin America. “We do not have a traditional legacy airline product, with a diluted First Class or premium economy. We heard from our loyal guests that we needed to preserve the industry-leading quality of our product, and offer options that allow frequent travelers to avoid the unpredictability associated with status upgrades. As a result, in addition to offering complimentary upgrades to Main Cabin Select, we’re offering an extended advance purchase window to let our status members confirm an upgrade to First Class up to 24 hours before their flight – the number one most requested feature when we polled our top members. Our top guests tend to be passionate about the brand and we wanted to roll out these new perks with a Virgin twist. Offering a space flight as the ultimate frequent flyer reward seemed a fitting way to recognize our most loyal guest.”
Elevate was among the first U.S. loyalty programs to offer dynamic reward pricing – or the ability for guests to redeem points for any unsold seat – on any flight, at any time. The highlights of the new Elevate status levels and benefits are listed below, and full program details can be viewed on the airline’s website at: www.virginamerica.com/elevatebenefits
With one of the youngest fleets in the U.S., Virgin America offers guests in every class of service custom-designed seating, WiFi, a ‘moodlighting’ system which transitions across 12 shades based on outside light, power outlets near every seat and the most advanced in-flight entertainment system in the skies. In addition to a Main Cabin that offers leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch, the airline’s international-grade First Class offers plush white leather seating with 55 inches of pitch, 165 degrees of recline and lumbar massagers. The carrier’s Main Cabin Select offers 38-inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to media, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding. The new Main Cabin Express seats include all Main Cabin amenities along with priority boarding and preferred overhead bin space.