Posts from me are going to be a bit lighter over the next week as I travel to the Maldives. As you may (or may not) know, I also have a points consulting service, whereby we help people redeem their airline miles. I have several colleagues working with me, and they’re some of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know in this hobby. They’ve offered to pitch in and write a few posts to give me a bit more time off while I’m traveling, so hopefully you’ll enjoy the additional unique perspectives. This post is from my friend Alex, who is even more of an airline nut than I am.
While checking my email this morning, I noticed a little tidbit at the bottom of my Alaska Airlines E-Statement:
Presumably, this email only went out to MVP Gold and Gold 75K members who opt into these emails. I rarely open them, so I wonder how many people missed this.
MVP Golds and Gold 75Ks to board after first class
Alaska’s mid-tier and top-tier elites will no longer board with first class as of April 15, 2015. Delta recently made changes to their boarding priority, allowing Diamond Medallions to board with first class in the “PREM” zone. Previously, they boarded after first or business class.
Alaska’s current first boarding call is messy, given that they board first class, MVP Golds and Gold 75Ks, and top tier elites from American and Delta all at once. This should improve the boarding experience for first class passengers (of which many are Golds and 75Ks), but it adds yet another step to a process that needs clarification. Alaska doesn’t use zoned boarding like other major US carriers, but I imagine they could benefit from it.
Alaska is also guilty of boarding way prior to posted times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve showed up to the gate 40 minutes prior to departure, only to find the gate area deserted.
Alaska gate at LAX with no passengers – they all boarded early
Also, don’t you love the way they try to sell the changes in the email? They’re making this change because “at the heart of our service, we’re committed to taking the time to provide personal attention to all our travelers.”
Widening the gap between MVP Gold and Gold 75K
At the very least, I can’t understand why Alaska won’t allow 75Ks to board with first class, especially with the recent change over at Delta. I’ve never been on a flight with more than a handful of 75Ks, and it would be a free way to better distinguish between their two Gold tiers.
I remember when Gold 75K was introduced in 2010, Alaska didn’t want to create too much separation between tiers to avoid pissing off Golds who were once top tier elites. It’s now 2015 with a much different playing field (cough… Delta in Seattle… cough). I find myself wanting to credit my flying to American after qualifying for MVP Gold, rather than shooting for 75K. I can’t imagine I’m alone in this thinking.
When Ben posted about Alaska status matching to MVP Gold 75K last October, he mentioned there’s marginal difference between the two tiers. Reiterating what he wrote, the major incremental benefits of MVP Gold 75K over MVP Gold are:
- 50,000 bonus redeemable miles upon requalifying for status every year
- Higher upgrade priority (75Ks clear 120 hours out, vs. Golds at 72 hours out)
- Ability to nominate someone to MVP status
Alaska introduced a higher elite mileage bonus for 75Ks this year, and this would be yet another benefit over Gold.
At the end of the day, we’re talking about an airline that only flies 737s and likes to board their flights a day early. Honestly, I think an entirely new boarding process is what Alaska should focus on. They could even call it Boarding Beyond. 😉
I’m really curious to see if this sticks. There will definitely be some resistance to change, especially from elites who like to line up to board an hour prior to departure.
If you’re an MVP Gold or Gold 75K, what are your thoughts on this change?