Bad Deal – Gilt City Virgin America 3’fer offer

Today Virgin America in conjunction with Gilt City is offer 3 flights for up to $1,205. The offer is here:

A quick analysis of the deal reveals it to be a BAD DEAL.

Since I am NYC based — Virgin America only has three long haul options from JFK (LAX, SFO, LAS). At $1,205, it is $401.67 per roundtrip. On America, Delta and United, you can usually find JFK to these locations for approximately $300 round trip. So that’s a $100 premium over the legacy carriers. The Virgin America product is good and you do get 6″ in their Select cabin vs regular coach on legacy carriers (if you have elite status on Delta & United, you would be in the equivalent cabin as VA Select for free) , but is it worth a $100 difference? I do not believe so.

Second, frequent flyer miles accumulation. Frequent flyer miles can take you to many places and is essentially a rebate for your purchase. For a flight from JFK-SFO roundtrip, you accumulate a 20% rebate on American, Delta, and United (25,000 miles for a free ticket, JFK-SFO RT is 5,086 miles). Virgin America is a dollar based frequent flyer program and they give you 5 points for every dollar spent. In general, dollar based frequent flyer program rewards high spenders. For this offer, you would receive 6,025 Virgin America Elevate points. How does this compare to flying on one of the legacy airlines? 3 flights on AA for example would’ve netted you ~15,000 miles. A one way redemption on American or United is 12,500 miles. So you would have gotten a one way reward ticket and still had some miles leftover. In contrast, the 6,025 points on Virgin America would not have gotten you a one way reward ticket back to California. The cheapest option would’ve cost you 7,450 points.

Summary: Virgin America cost more and give you less miles for future travel. Bad deal.


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