Yesterday Alex wrote about some changes that Alaska Airlines announced to their mileage earnings structure for the 2015 Mileage Plan program.
The changes were both positive and negative. Most significantly:
Decreased mileage earning on Delta
The negative change was that Alaska devalued their mileage earning structure for travel on Delta.
This is hardly surprising, given the revenue based 2015 SkyMiles program, as well as the ongoing battle between Alaska and Delta over the Seattle market. Alaska Mileage Plan is already a great program for crediting Delta flights, so it’s hardly surprising that they’re not leaving this huge arbitrage opportunity open.
Increased mileage earning for MVP Gold 75K members
What I’m personally most interested in is that in 2015 Alaska is raising the mileage bonus for their MVP Gold 75K members from 100% to 125%. That’s amazing, because it’s in addition to MVP Gold 75K members getting 50,000 bonus miles upon qualifying for status.
Alaska introduced MVP Gold 75K status a few years back, and the differences between it and MVP Gold are marginal — I’d say higher upgrade priority and the 50,000 bonus miles are the two biggest benefits. So it’s nice to see them add another point of differentiation.
But let’s be clear about what this means. MVP Gold 75K status can be earned by accruing at least 75,000 elite qualifying miles from travel on Alaska, or 90,000 elite qualifying miles from travel on Alaska and their partners.
Let’s assume you qualify the latter way, given that I think one of the best aspects of the Mileage Plan program is the wide range of partner flights you can credit to them.
Factoring in a 125% mileage bonus and the 50,000 mile bonus for qualifying for status, you’d earn a total of 252,500 redeemable Mileage Plan miles for 90,000 miles of flying. That’s like earning ~280% of flown miles.
I’d argue Alaska Mileage Plan miles are the single most valuable mileage currency (and I’m talking about a specific mileage currency, not a transferable points currency), given their wide range of airline partners, lucrative award chart, and generous routing/stopover rules.
Time to go out of my way to earn MVP Gold 75K again
I won’t requalify for MVP Gold 75K this year. I don’t live in Seattle anymore, and had only a handful of flights on Alaska this year. A bulk of my elite status requalification with Alaska came from American flights. So I’m not actually benefiting much from the status as such, though I sure am benefiting from the redeemable miles.
That being said, between a marginal 25% mileage bonus plus 50,000 bonus miles, I do think it’s worth going out of my way again next year to qualify for MVP Gold 75K.
Put another way, if I “just” qualify for MVP Gold I’d earn ~100,000 redeemable miles (the status requires 50,000 elite qualifying miles, plus you get a 100% mileage bonus). If I qualify for MVP Gold 75K I’d earn ~252,500 redeemable miles (factoring in the 125% bonus plus 50,000 bonus miles).
For those 40,000 miles of marginal flying I’d be earning an additional 152,500 miles — that’s 380%+ of flown miles!
Alaska already arguably offered the best mileage earnings rates for top tier status, and they just one upped themselves. Between their mileage earnings rates and lucrative award chart, I love Mileage Plan as much as ever.
If you’re not currently an elite member with Mileage Plan, keep in mind that they’re status matching all the way to MVP Gold 75K status.
Is anyone else more tempted by Alaska Mileage Plan than ever before?