Emirates now a Virgin America partner

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As a points-based frequent flyer program, Virgin America’s Elevate doesn’t usually provide the best value, especially when compared to the legacy airline programs which are based on miles instead of points.  However, the San Francisco-based airline has been slowly building up its partner roster, and recently announced that Emirates will now join that growing list.  Members will be able to both earn and redeem points on Emirates flights.

The point amounts to redeem on some of their current partners are surprisingly low.

Looking at Emirates from San Francisco to Dubai roundtrip:

EK

As you can see, Emirates is levying fuel surcharges on their award tickets, which is a common practice among foreign-based airlines.  But the points required – 100,000 for a roundtrip business class ticket – is a steal.  By comparison, a roundtrip in domestic first class on Virgin America from San Francisco to New York can run 240,000 points.

Clearly, redeeming Elevate points on partners is the way to go.

Best of all, not all foreign carriers add fuel surcharges.  Here’s what it takes to get from Los Angeles to Singapore on Singapore Airlines:

SQ

Of course, finding award availability on Singapore is an entirely different issue.

In any case, Elevate is making a strong case as the breakout among the points-based programs, a category which also includes JetBlue and Southwest Airlines. Virgin America’s international partners and reasonable redemption rates provide far more value for Elevate members than redeeming on Virgin America itself.

Virgin America’s current partners include the following airlines:

  • Emirates
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

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Ryan has been a travel expert for more than ten years. His journeys have taken him to all six inhabited continents, including living in the Middle East and backpacking across Australia, Asia and Europe.

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