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The Alaska Airlines-Virgin America merger is complete, and the deal’s impact has come to the Alaska Airlines loyalty program. Simply called Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, the program now rewards fliers for trips with Virgin America, significantly expanding the options available for travelers to earn rewards.
Due to a minor revamp of the program, members can now book flights for fewer miles than before, inherently increasing the value of points earned from the program voted best in the industry two years in a row. The adjustment represents a 30 percent decrease in cost on flights within the continental U.S. and Canada, further establishing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan among the most consumer-friendly programs in the space.
Reinforcing this commitment to members, the airline has doubled down on its stance of awarding points based on trip distance and frequency, rather than spend. This approach avoids penalizing travelers who seek discounts on flights; a controversy that caused a backlash against airlines that took the opposite path earlier this year.
“At Alaska Airlines, we remain committed to our miles-based program,” said Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines’ executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “While many other airlines are heading in a different direction and simply looking at how much people spend, we're focused on rewarding people across the board for how much they fly. Our combination with Virgin America, our portfolio of global partners, and these enhancements to our award-winning Mileage Plan demonstrate our commitment to creating the most generous loyalty program for our customers.”
Following the merge with Virgin America, Alaska Airlines is now the fifth-largest airline in the nation (and the largest on the West Coast), serving 118 cities in North and Central America.
Besides earning points on flights with Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, the top-rated program also offers miles on partnered carriers, a portfolio including brands like British Airways, Emirates, Japan Airlines, and Qantas. With the updated program, travelers will now also earn up to 80 percent more miles when flying business or first class with these partners.
Mergers always have a profound effect on customer loyalty, especially as programs run parallel to one another. With these updates to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, the company has reinforced its focus on providing the best customer experience possible in the pursuit of loyalty.
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