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Briefs: Virgin offers AA, UA elite status match; Delta downsizes at MEM

In news of U.S. airlines, Virgin America is offering gold or silver status in its Elevate frequent flyer program to elite flyers on American and United; Delta plans to eliminate even more service at its rapidly shrinking Memphis hub; and travelers whose companies use the popular Sabre booking system can now book US Airways’ ChoiceSeats.

  • Virgin America Airlines said on its website that elite members of American’s AAdvantage or United’s MileagePlus programs can obtain equivalent status in Virgin’s Elevate plan through April 30, 2013. The carrier is offering Elevate Silver status to AAdvantage Gold and Platinum members and to MileagePlus Premier Gold and Premier Silver members; and Elevate Gold status to AAdvantage Executive Platinums and MileagePlus Premier Platinums and Premier 1Ks. To qualify, travelers must email their Elevate account number and a copy of their most recent mileage summary or membership card showing elite status in the other carriers’ programs to statusmatch@virginamerica.com. For details on the offer, go to www.virginamerica.com/vx/statusmatch.

  • Delta plans to slash another 21 daily departures from its Memphis schedule effective January 3, according to local media in that Tennessee city. The plan calls for Delta to terminate its Memphis-Jacksonville and Memphis-Birmingham service and to reduce frequencies between MEM and Nashville, Knoxville, Jackson (Miss.), Little Rock, St. Louis, Kansas City, Raleigh-Durham and Tulsa. It’s just the latest in an ongoing series of service cuts at Memphis, a hub that Delta inherited from Northwest, and it will reduce Delta’s schedule there from 115 flights a day to 94. Just before Delta’s merger with Northwest, the two airlines had a combined total of 238 flights a day at Memphis. In other news, the U.S. Transportation Department has approved Delta’s request to move its Detroit-Tokyo Haneda service to Seattle.

  • Sabre Travel Network, a global distribution system used by a large percentage of corporate travel management companies and travel agencies, said that its system can now be used to book and purchase US Airways’ ChoiceSeats. The airline’s ChoiceSeats— which also come with early boarding privileges—are located along the aisle, next to a window and toward the front of the economy cabin.

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