Today’s post is a bit more analytically focused than usual, which is fitting since we’re endeavoring answer the question, “How much are Virgin America Elevate points worth?”
You can learn more about the Virgin America Elevate program here, or continue reading to dive deep into point valuation.
Methodology for Calculating Value of Virgin America Elevate Points
Our methodology is fairly straight-forward.
- We first selected a number of random routes serviced by Virgin America, along with a couple of arbitrary time periods (one within a few weeks of the writing of this post, the other a couple months out).
- We used kayak.com to find the cheapest ticket (market price) for the selected routes/times. If the route on Virgin America was direct, then we would only select from direct routes, to keep it apples to apples. If the Virgin America route was 1 stop, then we’d take the cheaper of any direct or 1-stop flight we found.
- Finally, we determined the number of Elevate points required to obtain the same ticket (which is easy to do on their website). By taking the market price of the ticket (minus any taxes you’d need to pay for the award), and dividing by the number of points required to secure it, we were able to calculate our estimate of Elevate point value.
Of course there are limitations to the analysis, but that’s why we call it our estimate! We feel this is a reasonable estimate and a useful guide.
So How Much Are Virgin America Miles Actually Worth?
The table below shows the data. We take a simple average of all the individual route estimates, and arrive at an estimated value of 2.1 cents per Elevate point. As far as airline loyalty programs go, that’s quite awesome. You can read our post Frequent Flyer Mileage Valuation Comparison to see how the Virgin America Elevate program stacks up against the competition.
|Route||Stops||Dept/Return (2012)||Mkt Price (Kayak)||Points Req’d + Taxes||$ val/point|
|BOS to LAX||Direct||Feb 11-17||$313||7,117 + $5||$0.043|
|BOS to SFO||Direct||Feb 11-17||$311||13,443 + $5||$0.023|
|BOS to SEA||1 stop||Feb 11-17||$326||19,116 + $10||$0.017|
|BOS to LAS||1 stop||Feb 11-17||$280||17,628 + $10||$0.015|
|ORD to LAX||Direct||Feb 11-17||$282||14,001 + $5||$0.020|
|ORD to SFO||Direct||Feb 11-17||$248||13,303 + $5||$0.018|
|DFW to LAX||Direct||Feb 11-17||$309||13,350 + $5||$0.023|
|DFW to SFO||Direct||Feb 11-17||$285||12,233 + $5||$0.023|
|DFW to SEA||1 stop||Feb 11-17||$253||17,023 + $10||$0.014|
|DFW to PDX||1 stop||Feb 11-17||$338||14,233 + $10||$0.023|
|FLL to LAX||Direct||Feb 11-17||$270||14,279 + $5||$0.019|
|FLL to SEA||Direct||Feb 11-17||$340||21,582 + $10||$0.015|
|FLL to PDX||Direct||Feb 11-17||$361||24,606 + $10||$0.014|
|JFK to LAS||Direct||Apr 11-17||$367||16,511 + $5||$0.021|
|JFK to LAX||Direct||Apr 11-17||$323||16,558 + $5||$0.019|
|JFK to SFO||Direct||Apr 11-17||$318||13,766 + $5||$0.023|
|JFK to SEA||1 stop||Apr 11-17||$308||14,606 + $10||$0.020|
|PHL to SAN||1 stop||Apr 11-17||$288||13,674 + $10||$0.020|
|PHL to LAX||Direct||Apr 11-17||$318||13,766 + $5||$0.023|
|PHL to SFO||Direct||Apr 11-17||$318||13,766 + $5||$0.023|
|PHL to SEA||1 stop||Apr 11-17||$261||16,047 + $10||$0.016|
|IAD to SAN||1 stop||Apr 11-17||$359||14,651 + $10||$0.024|
|IAD to LAX||Direct||Apr 11-17||$298||12,838 + $5||$0.023|
|IAD to SFO||Direct||Apr 11-17||$298||12,838 + $5||$0.023|
|IAD to SEA||1 stop||Apr 11-17||$329||13,674 + $10||$0.023|
GetDebit’s Concluding Thoughts on The Value of Virgin America Elevate Points
While we feel that the Elevate program gives you top value relative to other loyalty programs, that shouldn’t be the only factor in deciding which loyalty program(s) to focus on. Of course, you need to match up your needs to that of the airline. If you need to primarily fly to Europe or Asia, for example, then I can safely say you can do better than the Virgin America program. But if you plan to do some US East Coast to West Coast (or vice versa) flying, then VA may be the right one!