Should You Credit American Flights To Alaska?

Reader Keith asked the following question on a post I wrote last month about Alaska status matching to MVP Gold 75K:

Hi Lucky,

Based on what AA recently did with it’s lack of milesAAver award space on international travel, Glitch or no Glitch, I’m thinking of crediting all my EXP miles earned in 2015 to my MVP Gold75K acct. Having taken advantage of this status match. I’m confused by the bonus mileage earning on the AS website. Will I earn 100% bonus MVP Gold75K miles no matter what class of service I travel on AA metal? I’m solely interested in the award redemption ability. There seems to be better international award availability redeeming with AS partners then with AA and it’s partners on the AA site. Do you think this is a wise strategy? If not, why?

American and Alaska are the two airlines I’m most loyal to. I think American AAdvantage offers the most valuable top tier status of any airline, while Alaska Mileage Plan is a really cool niche program. Not only is Mileage Plan incredibly generous for travel on Alaska (in terms of their change and cancellation policy), but they also have some great airline partners for redeeming miles. That being said, since I no longer live in Seattle, I don’t get to fly them quite as much as I’d like to. I still go out of my way to earn status on them, though.

So given that American has literally stopped releasing saver level award space (which may or may not be a glitch), could it make sense to status match to Alaska MVP Gold 75K and credit miles for American flights to them instead?

In general I’d say no:

You can still redeem American miles on partner airlines

First and foremost I’d assume the current award situation is a glitch, and that AAdvantage will again release saver award space soon. That being said, even if it were to stick around, it doesn’t change the value of the program much for me. I’ve never redeemed American miles for international travel on American metal, but rather for travel on their partner airlines, like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, etc. And the value of those redemptions hasn’t gone down yet.

So unless you redeem miles primarily for international travel on American, the current “situation” shouldn’t change your decision making process too much, in my opinion.

You won’t receive Executive Platinum benefits if crediting to Alaska

This is probably the biggest caveat. If you use a systemwide upgrade you can credit a flight to Alaska. This is actually what I did with my mileage run to Hong Kong a couple of months ago.

AS-AA-Flights

However, a lot of the other Executive Platinum benefits wouldn’t apply, including complimentary domestic upgrades. As an Executive Platinum member my domestic upgrades almost always clear, so I’d hate to give those up in order to credit miles to another airline.

American-737-Economy-Class

Earn ~256% flown miles when crediting to Alaska

Here’s one reason you should consider crediting American flights to Alaska. Alaska’s top tier MVP Gold 75K status requires 90,000 elite qualifying miles if crediting partner flights. You earn a 100% bonus on all flights, plus you earn a 50,000 mile bonus upon achieving the status. In other words, crediting 90,000 miles worth of American flying to Alaska would net you 230,000 redeemable miles — that’s ~256% of flown miles. That’s better than you’d get directly through American.

Mileage-Plan

Bottom line

I’m a big proponent of crediting excess flights to Alaska Mileage Plan, especially in conjunction with systemwide upgrades. That being said, if you primarily fly American I don’t think it’s worth forgoing many benefits just to earn a different mileage currency… at least for now.

Does anyone primarily fly American but credit miles to Alaska?

Comments

  1. Lucky, A different tangent – not sure if you have noticed: US Airways has been promoting folks with over a 100 segments to Chairman’s Preferred.

    https://www.usairways.com/en-US/dividendmiles/preferred/howtoqualify.html
    **Chairman’s Preferred status normally requires 100,000 miles or 120 segments. However, in anticipation of combining Dividend Miles with the AAdvantage program in the second quarter of 2015, we are lowering the segment requirement for 2014 to 100 segments to align with the 2014 AAdvantage Executive Platinum threshold. In 2015, 120 segments will be required for both Chairman’s Preferred and AAdvantage Executive Platinum status.

    Great news for folks who were stuck between 100-119, gives them no reason to do a MR.

  2. this is different from Keith’s situation… but in my situation, i know i don’t fly enough revenue tickets on AA to achieve any status… so i always credit the flights to Alaska simply because those miles are much more valuable.

  3. ‘As an Executive Platinum member my domestic upgrades almost always clear, so I’d hate to give those up in order to credit miles to another airline.’ Liar !! Who was joking about the Main Cabin experience while appreciating complimentary drinks for EXPs a couple of weeks ago? lol

  4. Plat for life so starting today everything is going to AS!

    No more saver awards might as well.

    EXP those miles are worthless

  5. Hi Ben, here’s an update on the award space with American. I was looking for award space for this week a last minute trip either to Shanghai, SYD, etc and I was able to find some milesAAver award space on the dates I selected even business and first was open on a few of the destinations I had in mind. It could have been a glitch because from the routes I searched last minute for this week space was open.

  6. @ Lucky. Would your advice be different for someone who is a casual flier and it not going to be earning status with any airline? Would you credit AA (or for that matter other oneworld flights) to AS or to AA? FWIW, I am also SEA based.

  7. I am an ATL-based flyer who has maintained Gold with Delta, but with the new changes (and frankly, even the existing program), it no longer makes sense for it to be my primary airline anymore. So I am switching over to American.

    I status-matched to Alaska so that I could keep my Gold-tier status through 2015 on Alaska, American, and Delta. I won’t get many of the same perks on every airline, but being Gold in Atlanta meant I almost never got anything beyond the free bag, and extra mile accrual anyway – everyone is a Delta Medallion in ATL.

    With that in mind, I know I won’t hit an elite tier for American, so I’m banking everything to Alaska right now. I’ll still keep my key perks like the boarding and the mileage accrual bonus. In the cases where I *have* to fly Delta, I can bank those to Alaska, too, and keep the miles in the same place. Since Alaska’s international partners are the ones I use most for redemption, it really works out.

    Delta made it really easy to jump ship, and the Alaska-American combo made it easy to land elsewhere. I still have the Skymiles DEBIT card, too, so I’ll continue to earn those miles in case I need them in the future.

  8. John Carter look into 2015 no space!

    Just looked again June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2015 nothing to PVG NRT ICN HKG PEK

    Nothing!

  9. I remember saying the same thing on this blog a couple of years ago “AA is no longer opening up award space”. Lucky reassured me that AA typically releases space in clumps, with long spaces in between. Probably what’s happening here; they will eventually open space up. Which drives me crazy, since it means you have to search every day for months in order to be able to grab it when it does open up.

    But it’s also true that AA has been doing a stealth devaluation for the past two or three years, in that they are opening up progressively less and less Saver space. Three years ago, by searching daily, I was able to find 2 R/T FC TATL awards in our preferred time in August.

    Last Summer we had to fly in over in July on Saver awards, and we only found one Saver award for the return, so I had to book one return ticket Anytime.

    Booking nearly a year out for 2015, we were only able to find two outbound days in Saver, one the last week of June, and one the first week of July. And even then the only destination they opened was FRA.So we are going the first week of July, and we are going to FRA, since that’s the only thing I could get. Then we are coming back with LH, using Miles and More miles, because AA didn’t offer us anything at all for the return at the Saver level.

    Progressively less and less available space, year over year. A Stealth Devaluation in progress… 🙁

  10. I’ve been crediting pretty much all my flights on DL and AA to AS. It definitely benefits me on a lot of award flights. Since I’ve been using Emirates lately to travel to DXB. Pretty nice redemption rates too. 🙂

  11. As noted, AA O-class fares don’t earn anything in the AS program, and the A-class fare indicator which does is a bit of a misnomer as I discovered earlier this month. Having requalified for ExecPlat in October, I decided to put some AA flights into my AS account (MVPGold75K). All three flights had been upgraded with SWUs (no more international flying until March so needed to use up my Feb15 expiring SWUs) and showed A-class. However, I forgot the original booking was in O-class, so none of the flights posted to my AS account. So upgraded A-class does not earn either. (BTW, scanned original ticket and boarding passes last night, emailed them AA customer service with an explanation and requested the flights be credited to my AA account. A few hours ago I received an email back indicating the miles had been posted to my AA account.)

  12. Because the AS mileage program is so great, I ONLY credit my DL and AA flights to AS even though I am on the east coast now. My priority is earning miles and cashing them out for free trips, rather than getting regular upgrades because of my status.

    Why I am so loyal to AS:
    1) AS rounds the credited miles for each flight up to a minimum of 500 miles. I take a lot of short hops, so my BOS – JFK shuttle rounds up a lot. Plus with my MVP status 100% bonus, that’s 2000 miles per trip!

    2) Great availability for ticket redemption to Europe. (Need to get one of these Cathy Pacific seats I hear so much about…:) )

    3) I’ve always found their staff to be super awesome and that counts for something in my book.

    4) Until recently Delta honored AS status and gave you a free checked bag. I think this just changed so I’ll be riding AA more now.

  13. I also found some differences in miles credited. I’m adding to my AA balance because of the credit card signup miles I got this year. My wife does not have any miles in AA and has been adding to her AS balance by crediting her DL and AA flying to AS. I’ve found that crediting miles to AS has other advantages.

    1) Flew MCO-MIA-EYW. AA only credited exact mileage flown while AS credited 500 miles per segment.
    2) Credited Qantas flight in coach CNS-AYQ to respective accounts. AA only gave me 50% mileage flown but AS gave her full credit.

  14. “Plat for Life”—ha-ha-ha–that’s a good one. Just like “Flying Colonel” for LIFE earns access to Delta Sky Club. All that means is—Plat for Life until we change the”terms and conditions” of the program. Which we’ve been known to do with regularity when it is in our benefit. Don’t bank on “anything” for life.

  15. @ turgutbey — If you fly both Delta and American along with a bit of Alaska, I think Alaska’s Mileage Plan is tough to beat.

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