Alaska Introduces Elite Rollover Miles (Targeted)

Usually I don’t write about targeted offers, since you’re not eligible if you didn’t receive this offer by email. I’m writing about a targeted offer in this instance because it represents an interesting development for a program as a whole.

Alaska Airlines sent out an email to select Mileage Plan members today offering them elite rollover miles. Here’s the webpage explaining the new feature:

When you travel on Alaska Airlines flights in 2016, each elite-qualifying mile you earn on Alaska Airlines flights beyond the tier requirement for your highest elite status attained will roll over towards next year’s elite status requirement.

Alaska-Elite-Rollover-Miles

And here are the terms of Alaska’s rollover miles promotion:

Only Mileage Plan™ members who receive this offer directly from Alaska Airlines via email are eligible to participate.The difference, if any, between the number of miles flown by an eligible member on flights operated and marketed by Alaska Airlines (AS1-999, 2000-2999 or 3300-3499) in 2016 and the number of miles required for the highest 2017 elite status level achieved by the eligible member as of December 31, 2016, will be applied towards 2018 elite status qualification.

Mileage for all segments accrued toward this promotion must be flown by December 31, 2016 and credited to your Mileage Plan account by January 15, 2017. Elite-qualifying miles will post to the member’s account no later than February, 2017. Award or free travel is not valid for this offer. Miles flown on other airlines (including elite qualifying partner airlines) in 2016 are not eligible to be rolled over toward elite status qualification in 2017. Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan program apply.

Alaska-Rebrand

For a few years Delta SkyMiles has offered rollover miles, where whatever elite qualifying miles you earn in excess of the tier you qualified for roll over to the next year. Alaska and Delta are fiercely competitive in Seattle, so we’ve seen the two airlines match policies in many instances.

There are a couple of things which make this promotion on the part of Alaska especially interesting, though:

  • How did Alaska target Mileage Plan members for this promotion? Since it’s a move which is clearly intended to be competitive with Delta, perhaps they targeted Mileage Plan members with some Delta flights credited to their accounts? That would seem most logical to me, but who knows.
  • Rollover miles apply exclusively to elite qualifying miles earned on Alaska Airlines. This means elite qualifying miles earned through travel on partner airlines wouldn’t be eligible to be rolled over.

While we see a lot of targeted promotions as such, this is fundamentally a shift in the benefits of a program, so I’m surprised to see it introduced on a targeted basis. I do think we’ll see some major changes to Mileage Plan in the coming year, and if I had to guess, I’d say that perhaps rollover miles will be introduced as a permanent feature when the new program is announced, and Alaska is just testing out the functionality on a targeted basis.

Bottom line

I think the concept behind rollover miles makes perfect sense. If an airline sets certain qualification tiers and a customer over-qualifies, why not let that activity rollover to the next qualification period? And I think Alaska is especially smart for offering them only on Alaska flights, which further incentivizes people to fly Alaska over their partners.

At the same time, I get why most airlines don’t offer rollover miles — much like everything else in the industry, the reason is simply “because they can.”

The targeted nature of Alaska introducing rollover miles is peculiar, and I’m curious to see what their “big picture” plan is. I’m sure we’ll find out in the coming months.

What do you make of Alaska introducing rollover miles on a targeted basis, and do you think it’ll be expanded?

Comments

  1. Are you thinking a devaluation in award chart coming? They do run their airline quite different than the other three for sure. After the tough to stomach changes to AA international awards let’s just say I fly and credit as many flights to Alaska as I can. But…time will tell if all good things come to an end.

    All in favor of allowing ME3 into the US domestic routes to shake things up again? ….

  2. Competition is always good for consumers! I cannot remember Alaska making so many efforts to please fliers before Delta came in.

  3. I was 3k short of Gold on Alaska this year. I need to go back to my email and see if I was targeted so I don’t repeat this again next year.

  4. I agree with your opinion it would make sense to be targeted toward those who credited Delta flights to Alaska. Last year 2015 I had over 90,000 EQM on my mileage plan account. Approximately 65,000 of those miles were credited from Delta flights. This year as of today I will be at 13,000 EQM with just over 6,000 of those miles flown on Alaska metal. I have yet not received the offer, so who knows how this was targeted? Like you I am also interested to see what their plan is. Thanks for the post. FYI I mostly fly between MSP , SEA-TAC, and MSO . And I really enjoy the benefits and service of Alaska.

  5. The ‘rollover’ concept is a great idea, although not exactly a eureka! moment. I have often had many QFF status credits go to waste (although they add up for Lifetime Silver/Gold in the distant future if you are young enough) at the end of most Membership years. However Qantas might think that idea is way too generous, and we all know that that wouldn’t do!

  6. I think it will be eventually expanded.
    I recall Delta starting the rollover mile concept back in 2010, and AF/KL also implementing the same concept two years later in 2012. I think it’s been quite effective as I know friends who still fly Delta after they requalify for Diamond.

  7. My wife and I are both MVPs, similar flying patterns and exclusively AS flights credited to our accounts – she received the offer, I didn’t.

    The only major difference is that she barely made it to MVP whereas I was just 6K short of Gold. Maybe they’re assuming she didn’t fly AS as much because she had made it to MVP anyway and was way too far from Gold to make it count?

  8. Perhaps my family’s experience props up Fred’s theory. We tuned my husband’s flying just right, and with only one small mileage run, he was 137 miles over status qualification and those 137 EQM were offered as rollover. I was almost 10k over status qualification and they all disappeared with 2016.

    On the other hand, he did fly Delta while I didn’t, though he didn’t book with Delta. He had a connection in Seattle and there was ice at SEA, so when he showed up at the airport, Alaska put him on a DL flight through SLC instead.

  9. A year later – did anything permanent ever come of this policy wise?

    I can see Alaska wanting to keep their best flyers once they have attained 75K and not have them fly with the enemy for additional status.

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