You probably already know that Alaska Airlines is purchasing Virgin America if you fly using either of the two airlines frequently. It's anticipated that the powers behind the merger will spend the better part of 2017 working to seamlessly merge the two carriers together without diminishing the travel experience for passengers. It makes sense that loyal customers of Virgin America will have more changes to deal with than loyal customers of Alaska Airlines during and after the transition.

What do you need to know about the changes coming in 2017 if Virgin America happens to be your preferred carrier? It is particularly important to know what the big changes coming in the year ahead mean for your loyalty points. Ahead, we at share with you more on what you need to know.

Changes To The Virgin America Loyalty Program

The biggest changes will be felt when it comes to Virgin America's Elevate program. The loyalty program will be winding down slowly throughout the year. The first big change occurred when Virgin America disappeared from the list of transfer partners in the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program. The good news is that members can take advantage of Alaska's award-winning Mileage Plan to plan trips using Starwood accommodations going forward.

Along the same line of things, Citi ThankYou points will no longer be transferrable to Virgin America starting January 22.

How Elevate Members Can Continue To Enjoy Perks

The official deadline to transfer points between Virgin America and Starwood has passed on Jan. 6. However, that doesn't mean that members of Virgin America's Elevate program will not be able to enjoy some great perks and rewards in 2017.

Ears up: Members can now transfer points from Starwood to Alaska. They can then link their accounts to utilize those points. This move is designed to create a smoother transition for existing customers that doesn't require them to completely shut down their accounts.

What Members Need To Know About The Changes Coming In 2017

The one thing that is pretty consistent among mergers in the airline world is that carriers aren't exactly forthcoming when it comes to final dates and completion deadlines. This is largely due to the fact that executives are really testing the waters as they go.

There are many variables that go into finalizing a merger. The uncertain legal, financial and logistical aspects of completing a merger make it difficult for airlines to produce deadlines regarding when certain programs will expire or when procedural changes will be put in place.

What we do know so far about the merger between Virgin America and Alaska is that Virgin America's Elevate program is likely going to disappear before 2018. Acting quickly to transfer any existing points you have is essential because members may soon be left without any transfer partners or options for using accrued miles.

The silver lining is that Alaska's Mileage Plan is a highly acclaimed program that customers are quite satisfied with in general. This program is likely going to replace every aspect of the Elevate program when all is said and done. While the merger process may create some frustrations for Virgin America's loyal customers, there will possibly be many more perks to enjoy in the long run.