Virgin America, Hawaiian Airlines introduce redemption reciprocity


Members of Virgin America‘s Elevate program can redeem their frequent flyer points for travel to Hawaii and beyond under a partnership with Hawaiian Airlines announced last week. Similarly, members of the HawaiianMiles program can redeem their points on the Virgin America route network. The two carriers will also implement code-sharing on some routes and an interline agreement so passengers can check in once for travel across both carriers.

For HawaiianMiles members the redemption chart is based on the distance traveled and the cabin redeemed for. There will be three cabins available for redemption: Main Cabin, Main Cabin Select and First Class. Here’s the award chart:

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The rates aren’t particularly attractive though it also isn’t clear if the seats are inventory-controlled or not. If not then the rates wouldn’t be quite as bad, but it seems unlikely that is actually the way it will be run.

For Elevate members looking to redeem on Hawaiian Airlines flights the award rates aren’t quite as easy. Awards range from 3,000 points for a one-way inter-island trip in economy up to 150,000 points between Manila and some mainland US destinations round-trip in first class. In most cases the one way rates are half price of a round trip, plus 10-20%. Similarly, first class awards are generally double the coach award, plus 10-20%. You can look up the rates using their tool here.

There are more than 450 city pairs in the partner chart for Elevate members redeeming on Hawaiian metal and I’m not entirely convinced that there aren’t a few bugs in the chart. It probably shouldn’t be fewer points to get from the mainland to parts of Japan via Honolulu than just the Honolulu-Japan segment, for example. That said, I’m pretty sure that is actually a case where the one-way rate is loaded as a round-trip into HNL, not that the mainland destinations are especially discounted. And there are a couple other places where the round trip price is loaded at the same price as the one way rate, too. Oh, and the destinations in the South Pacific look particularly attractive to me in terms of points required.

Not all city pairs can be mixed on awards, so you cannot fly from JFK anywhere beyond Hawaii, for example. And if you want to fly in First Class from JFK to Maui you have to book JFK-Honolulu plus Honolulu-Maui. Likely the same number of points because of the way they are calculating connecting trips versus non-stops but still strange. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of quirks in this award chart.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .
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