Alaska Mileage Plan Adds EQMs For All International Partner Airlines

Alaska announced a pretty big improvement to their Mileage Plan program today, which will be great news for those that credit partner flights to Alaska. While Alaska has over a dozen airline partners across the alliances, they’re not all eligible for elite qualifying mileage accrual.

Alaska-Mileage-Plan

As of now, only the following partner airlines are eligible for elite qualifying mileage accrual through Mileage Plan:

Alaska-Mileage-Plan1

However, as of January 15, 2014, all international Mileage Plan partners will be eligible not just for redeemable mileage accrual, but also for elite qualifying mileage accrual. This means the following five airlines are being added as partners eligible for elite mileage accrual:

  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Qantas
  • Fiji Airways

Elite qualifying mileage accrual rates will match current redeemable mileage accrual rates for these partner airlines. You can find those earnings rates by partner here.

Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is interesting to begin with since they have different thresholds for elite status based on whether you’re just flying Alaska Airlines or whether you’re also crediting miles to them from partner airlines. For example, I’m an MVP Gold 75K, which can be earned either by racking up 75,000 elite qualifying miles earned solely on Alaska, or 90,000 elite qualifying miles on a combination of Alaska and partner airlines. Since I credited flights from American, Delta, and Emirates to Alaska, I qualified through the latter method. I actually only flew about 15,000 miles on Alaska this year.

Alaska-Mileage-Plan2

My guess is that Alaska’s motivation here is to get even less dependent on Delta. Delta is one of the current partners on which you can earn Alaska EQMs, so really they’re just driving passengers away from Delta and on to other partners with this move.

Anyway, this is a huge improvement, though I do also think every improvement is negative for some. For example, when an airline adds the functionality to book award tickets on more partner airlines online, it’s objectively a positive change, while at the same time it adds competition for those award seats.

Similarly, this will further swell the elite ranks at Alaska, which isn’t a bad thing, since it’s a logical change. But there are only so many first class seats to upgrade into. Then again I’m not really one to talk, given that a vast majority of my Alaska mileage activity comes from partner airlines. 😉

Comments

  1. Can you utilize Alaska FF benefits on oneworld and sky alliance airlines..for example lounge access, baggage?

  2. @ Kumar — That’s the one downside to Alaska, they don’t belong to an alliance so you don’t get lounge access based on your status when flying partner airlines.

  3. @Lucky and @Kumar – If you purchase an Alaska Board Room membership (lounge) they enjoy reciprocal benefits with partner lounges, FWIW.

  4. I think the Alaska flyers can thank Delta for this. It makes the Alaska program look pretty good to Seattle based flyers especially those that do some overseas travel.

    Offering EQM’s on Cathay and Korean when Delta is starting to fly competitive routes from Seattle pretty much signals their partnership is over.

    Seattle residents should benefit greatly as this plays out.

  5. As a Delta flyer with 100K EQMs this year. Does it make sense to hit Platinum 75K and bank the rest to Alaska? Elite on two airlines, allows flexibility.

  6. @ Andy — Well the issue is you wouldn’t have the same upgrade priority, so if it’s a Delta flight where you’re hoping to upgrade you’re probably better off continuing to credit to them.

  7. Hey, Lucky, EVA is finally changing their Seattle route to 777-300ER starting Aug 6th, 2014!!! God has finally answered my prayer,lol…….

  8. This is probably a topic for another day, but as an Execplat on AA who is not going to requalify, I was wondering what you think is the best strategy for a status match as of July 1, 2014.

    Alaska? Delta? United?

    I figure if I status match on July 1, I’d be X through Feb 2016 with the new airline. Just wondering which of the three would match American Executive Platinum the best for an LAX-bound flyer. Thanks!

    Which

  9. Help!! I try to check on using alaska miles for traveling sfo to han on cathay pacific but alaska rep said it can’t be done because they do not partner with dragonair which will fly out of hong kong. They can only get me to hong kong? Thanks in advance

  10. @ leslie — Unfortunately that’s correct, as they don’t partner with DragonAir. Kind of ridiculous, I know.

    While not ideal, Cathay Pacific does fly to Ho Chi Minh City.

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