This week brought welcome news with Virgin America’s announcement that Elevate points can now be redeemed on its sister airlines Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia. Like McDonald’s and the financial downturn, it appears Elevate points have gone global.
But if that isn’t good enough for you, we have even better news from our Virgin insider. Virgin Galactic, the private space flight wing of the same parent entity that owns Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America, is reportedly planning a system whereby passengers will be able to use Virgin points to book space travel. The details of the award chart have not yet been set in stone, but based on Virgin’s redemption rates for awards on this planet, we estimate that a roundtrip flight into space will cost roughly 5,500,000 points for a business class seat. Of course, the exact amount of points required will vary depending on the Earth’s orbit.
While the prospect of award travel to space is surely exciting, we are concerned about how some features of premium cabin travel might transfer over to a zero-gravity environment. For example, we are not excited by the prospect of having to drink our Dom Pérignon from a plastic pouch through a straw. And will our caviar be served in some sort of squeeze tube? On the other hand, floating around trying to catch Macadamia nuts with our mouths does sound pretty damn fun.
The timing of this development is rather fortuitous as American Express is offering a 30% bonus on Membership Rewards points transfers to Elevate through March 25. Play your cards right and you could rightly call these MemberShip Rewards. Yeah, we went there. See you on the moon!
The battle for the new beyond-perimeter slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is heating up this week, with seven different carriers applying for one of the eight available roundtrips. Of particular note is Virgin America’s application to fly two roundtrips between SFO and DCA, a heavily-trafficked route already fully serviced by United. Other airlines looking to get in on the fresh slot action include Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Air Canada and Sun Country, which we did not know was a real airline until today.
The new slots have opened up as part of an FAA response to airline and passenger complaints about the limited mobility offered by the airport’s older slots. “Reagan himself would never have stood for the kind of inhibited slots the airport has had all this time,” said frequent DCA passenger Mark Holtz. Like many passengers, Holtz looks forward to the day when he no longer needs to make the journey out to Dulles or Baltimore to get to majestic mountains or the Grand Canyon.
In keeping with historic DC usage statistics, experts anticipate the new slots will be frequented primarily by politicians and their close associates. It’s also rumored that the more desirable slots will be considerably more expensive. Competition for these slots is fierce but we remain confident that this will end happily for everyone affected. Points Envy will stay on top of these new slots and pass along anything we dig up.