Alaska’s Awesome MVP Gold 75K Mileage Bonus

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.

Mileage-Plan-3

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.

Mileage-Plan-2

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.

Mileage-Plan-1

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.

Alaska-Airline-Partners

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!

Bottom line

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?

Comments

  1. If you have no status, but then flew enough to obtain MVP Gold 75k, would you earn the 125% elite bonus for flights flown before you qualified for MVP Gold 75k?

  2. Which international (I know there are no domestic!) airlines will match AS status? My MVP Gold expires next month, and I want to make a play, preferably OW or ST. Thanks–and Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Are you going to post sometime in the future an updated list of your values of airlines and hotels currency?

  4. He’s a question…and one I imagine you’ve thought about. If booking an AA revenue ticket can you book it with your AAdvantage number; use an EVIP for the reservation – then at check in flip it to Alaska. It’s an interesting approach for those who aren’t convinced they’ll hit EXP in 2015 but are likely to do 90K on a combination of carriers.

  5. The timing on this went from awesome to poor. Got 75k and booked a ton of Delta flights with the last go at wideroe. Went from earning nearly 85k to 45k over night, and in EQMs went from 40k to 20k. Was going to be a good start to the year. :-/
    Great change if you hadn’t just booked multiple Delta tickets.

  6. That’s some serious voodoo math going on…

    Assume 0 Alaska flights, and no current status then:

    Miles 1 – 25,000: 25,000 (General Member, 100%)
    Miles 25,001 – 50,000: 32,500 (MVP, 150%)
    Miles 50,001 – 90,000: 80,000 (Gold, 200%)
    Mile 90,000 – 50,000 (Gold 75 Bonus miles)
    Total = 50+80+32.5+25 = 187,500 miles

    If you have status at the beginning of the year, that changes, but… that’s not what you’re arguing in your post.

  7. “For those 40,000 miles of marginal flying I’d be earning an additional 152,500 miles — that’s 380%+ of flown miles!”

    I can’t say your math is correct. Were you assuming bonus can be earned for flights prior to becoming an elite?

  8. Ben

    How would you take use of EXP upgrades if you are crediting to MP? Switching the FFN at check in?

    It’s an amazing offer but 90k miles is a lot of mileage running.

  9. Very tempting but Alaska does not have anywhere near the frequency and timing a business flier needs. It seems they just take the leftover slots. I am stuck with United.

  10. @ rick — You can apply systemwides and then change your frequent flyer number at anytime. You can’t credit to Alaska when getting comp upgrades on American, though.

  11. @ zhuo — Sorry, realize how that could be interpreted that way. It wasn’t my intent. I was trying to (not very well) explain the decision making process for requalifying for MVP Gold 75K and doing that marginal 40K flying, as opposed to going for it “from scratch.”

  12. @ Steve — Yeah, realize I didn’t make it clear, but I was trying to convey this from the perspective of someone that’s already MVP Gold 75K, or starts off by status matching to it.

  13. @ Mike — Yes, you sure can use SWUs and still credit to Alaska. You can change frequent flyer numbers at any time.

  14. @lucky In your post you don’t mention status matching, and you say that you’ll assume qualifying based on partner miles. BTW, you can only status match to Alaska Airlines *once* during the life of your account (unless they’ve changed/relaxed that in last few years).

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