Virgin America is set to lose is Singapore Airlines partnership on September 30 as part of the Alaska Airlines merger. The Virgin America Elevate frequent flyer program is winding down as it prepares to be integrated into Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.
However news is out this morning that Alaska and Singapore have inked a partnership. Reciprocal mileage-earning starts September 27, with redemption to follow.
They plan to introduce codesharing as well, which will help Singapore in San Francisco and Los Angeles — cities where they compete aggressively against their Star Alliance partner United (which would normally be expected to provide Singapore with feed).
- United flies non-stop San Francisco – Singapore competing directly with Singapore’s own San Francisco non-stop
- United will fly non-stop from Los Angeles starting October 27 while Singapore Airlines service still connects until they take delivery of new Airbus A350ULR (Ultra Long Range) aircraft.
I noted that Singapore was perhaps closer to Virgin America than United back in 2014, and that they inked a mileage partnership with JetBlue (which helps with feed at New York JFK) in 2015.
They work better with partners outside of the Star Alliance than they do with United, which even intentionally removed Singapore Airlines award space from the United.com website in 2013 so members wouldn’t be able to see and book those flights online. Oh, and United lied about it too.
It’s great news for Singapore that they’ll retain a West Coast partner to help with their Los Angeles and San Francisco loads, and it’s great news for Alaska Airlines members that they’ll be able to redeem miles for travel on Singapore.
However Singapore Airlines rarely offers premium cabin award availability on long haul flights to their partners. That’s almost exclusively reserved for Singapore’s own KrisFlyer members (fortunately you can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards straight into KrisFlyer miles).
Singapore availability is better for short haul flights, but Alaska doesn’t offer the ability to mix partners on a single one way award (e.g. flying San Francisco – Hong Kong on partner Cathay Pacific and connecting to Singapore Airlines for Hong Kong – Singapore).