Virgin America Buy 2 Get 1 Free?!

It appears that Virgin America is getting desperate. Repeat after me . . . MUST-RAISE-CASH.

A friend forwarded me an email that was apparently sent to at least some of Virgin America’s eleVAte frequent flier program members. I’m not sure how many people got it, but this friend has flown them a few times so he isn’t exactly in need of being convinced to fly them further. It is an EXTREMELY generous offer that is not exactly what you’d want to be doing in this cost environment. Here it is.

As an eleVAte Member, you’re entitled to exciting travel privileges, like the opportunity to fly free once in a while.

So we’re extending a special offer to just a few, special eleVAte Members – that would be you.

When you fly two paid roundtrips on Virgin America, we’ll give you a free roundtrip ticket* valid for travel through June 1, 2008.

It’s simple. Book and fly your two paid roundtrips between March 5 and May 4, 2008. After you complete your second paid roundtrip, we’ll automatically send you an email with everything you need to claim your free trip.

Grab a seat at and you’ll be on your way to a free trip before you know it.

San Francisco : Las Vegas : Los Angeles : New York : San Diego : Seattle : Washington, DC

I read through the terms and conditions, and there don’t appear to be too many restrictions. It looks like two quick trips from LAX to SFO and you’ll have a freebie you could use to get to the east coast. No fare restrictions, just make sure you’re in coach. Now that’s a steal.

Did anyone else get this? Are there any eleVAte members out there who didn’t receive it? I wonder how widespread this is.

In case you’re curious, here’s all the mice-type that was in the email.

* To qualify for the promo code for one (1) roundtrip ticket, eleVAte members receiving this FLY2GET1 offer must book and complete four (4) one-way trips (or two (2) round-trips) on Virgin America between March 5, 2008 and May 4, 2008. Promo Code is valid for travel in the Main Cabin; the applicable travel must be completed between March 15, 2008 and June 1, 2008. If travel is changed to a date outside of this window or if itinerary is modified outside of the promo period, promo code discount will become inapplicable, and the guest will be responsible for a $40 change fee and any increase in air fare. Promo code may be used only towards newly-booked travel and may not be applied to prior bookings. Using the promo code will deduct 100% of base fare; the guest will still be responsible for Passenger Facility Charges of up to $9 each way, September 11th Security Fees of up to $5 each way and a Federal Segment Tax of $3.50 per domestic segment. A segment is a takeoff and landing. Promo code may not be redeemed for cash and may not be used towards premium seats (such as exit row seats) or upgrades. Seats are limited, subject to availability, and may not be available on all flights. The start dates for certain non-stop service are as follows: San Francisco (SFO) – Seattle (SEA) on March 18, 2008 and Los Angeles (LAX) – Seattle (SEA) on April 8, 2008. Only one (1) promo code may be used per eleVAte member in connection with this FLY2GET1 offer, even if the member books and completes more than four (4) trips during the qualifying period. If the person booking the four (4) qualifying trips is different from the person actually flying those trips, promo code will be awarded to the person who actually flies those trips. Promo code may only be used for booking via

I don’t like that this is being sent to eleVAte members. You’d think these would be the people who are most likely to be flying the airline already, and this is a very rich offer. Maybe they should start actually defining redemption values for eleVAte members instead of focusing on these offers. That’s right, I haven’t seen anything saying how many flights you need for a free trip in the program. Has anyone else?

This is just one of several cash grabs going on. They’ve had a couple rapid-fire sales lately including one going on right now. You can see where they’re weakest. In coach, everything is cheap. Previous sales have had a premium in JFK over DC, but that’s not the case in this one. Dulles appears to have climbed a little in price. The only strength is in the first class cabin, except for San Diego and Seattle where there are sale fares. Still, with such a small first class cabin, I don’t think that’s going to help them too much.

We’re at around $108 for a barrel of oil and counting. They’ve got to figure something out quickly. Oh, but they aren’t the only ones. ExpressJet announced a big loss this past quarter and for the full year. Those 50 seaters aren’t cheap to run and they’re getting more expensive as oil goes up. They’re going to be feeling more pressure to get out of the branded flying business as this goes on. Consolidation may not be necessary . . . just wait for oil prices to drive airlines out instead.

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