Alaska Airlines offers a fantastic loyalty program, arguably the best of any US carrier. The issue is Alaska’s limited route network, as they operate primarily from the west coast. Even when their takeover of Virgin America is complete, their strength will still only be to/from the west coast. So status with Alaska isn’t useful for everyone.
Still, the program is worth knowing about, and it’s also worth being aware of the status match opportunities they have.
Alaska’s elite status requirements
Alaska has three elite tiers — MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K. Here are the requirements to qualify for status:
As you can see, there are different requirements depending on whether you’re qualifying exclusively through travel on Alaska, or also through travel on their partner airlines. One of the best things about Alaska is the unique partner airlines they have, and how you can qualify for status with them exclusively through partner airline travel, if you want to.
Alaska’s elite benefits
Here’s a chart with the benefits of each elite tier:
The way I see it, here’s what makes Alaska Mileage Plan special:
- They continue to award miles based on distance flown rather than how much you spend (though that could always change in the future)
- They let MVP Gold members and above cancel revenue tickets for free, and the value of the ticket is placed in their “travel bank” and can be applied towards a future ticket
- They have a great same day flight change policy
- All elites get unlimited complimentary upgrades, and MVP Gold members and above receive four upgrade certificates they can use to confirm an upgrade in advance
- They have great mileage bonuses — MVP Gold members earn a 100% mileage bonus, while MVP Gold 75K members earn a 125% mileage bonus, plus 50,000 bonus miles when they requalify; that means if an MVP Gold member flies 90,000 miles to qualify for status, they’ll really earn 252,500 miles, which is ~280% of the distance flown
- Alaska has great airline partners, so it can be lucrative to fly their partner airlines and then credit miles to Alaska
Why now is a good time to status match to Alaska
Alaska Mileage Plan has a great status match program, as they’ll match people all the way up to their top tier MVP Gold level. Alaska will match elite members with Aeromexico, Air Canada, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and Virgin America.
In general you can expect that they’ll match American Executive Platinum, Delta Diamond, and United Premier 1K, to MVP Gold 75K. Meanwhile mid-tier status levels generally match to MVP Gold, and so on.
To request a status match, email email@example.com with a scan of your drivers license or passport, both sides of your current elite card, and a screenshot of your online account showing your name, current status, and YTD miles flown.
The reason this is a great time to match is because it’s now October, which means if you status match now status will be valid for all of next year, through December 31, 2017.
If you status matched before October, status would only be valid through the end of this year.
So this is a great way to get ~15 months of status with Alaska.
While Alaska and Virgin America don’t yet offer reciprocal elite benefits, keep in mind that Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America is expected to close any day now, and I imagine shortly thereafter they’ll begin offering some sort of reciprocal benefits. So this match could be useful for eventually getting perks on Virgin America as well, I imagine.
Alaska Mileage Plan is a really quirky frequent flyer program that I quite like. Status matches are once in a lifetime so I wouldn’t recommend matching if you don’t plan on using the status. That being said, if status with Alaska could be useful, this is the ideal time to match.
Alaska can be a great program for collecting miles for travel on other airlines. For example, Hainan has consistently had cheap business class fares between Los Angeles and Changsha, and those flights earn 200% miles with Mileage Plan. If you’re MVP Gold 75K you’d earn a total of 200% elite qualifying miles and 325% redeemable miles, which is incredible.
Has anyone status matched to Alaska lately, or plan on doing so soon?
(Tip of the hat to No Mas Coach)