Alaska Airlines is expanding the number of partner airlines that earn elite qualifying miles toward status with Mileage Plan. The difference between redeemable (award) miles and elite qualifying miles is that only EQMs earn status, and only award miles can be used for booking tickets.
In the past, only select partners like American and Delta earned EQMs as well as award miles when credited to Alaska’s Mileage Plan. A few international carriers such as Emirates and AeroMexico also credited toward elite status. Others such as British Airways did not. These remaining carriers will begin crediting to elite status with Mileage Plan for travel on or after January 15, 2014. All partners will now earn credit toward elite status and reduce confusion that may have existed in the past.
Existing carriers earning Award and Elite-Qualifying Miles:
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Air France
Carriers earning Award and Elite-Qualifying Miles beginning January 15:
- British Airways
- Korean Air
- Cathay Pacific
- Fiji Airways
I’ve written before why I think most travelers should consider Alaska’s Mileage Plan as their loyalty program of choice. Not necessarily the most frequent travelers, but certain most travelers, from the twice-a-month business traveler to Ma and Pa who only fly twice a year.
- Mileage Plan offers several key benefits that you won’t find at most other carriers:
- The ability to cancel a ticket 60 days in advance and retain the credit for a future trip (coming early 2014)
- For MVP Gold members, the ability to cancel a ticket up to day of departure (already a benefit)
- Lower status requirements, such as only 40,000 EQMs for MVP Gold if you limit your travel to Alaska Airlines
- The option to earn and redeem miles with an eclectic mix of partners, including American, Delta, British Airways, and Emirates
In fact, it’s that last point that has lead me to recommend Mileage Plan even to people who never fly on Alaska Airlines. If you live in the Southeast, for example. you might book travel on a mix of American Airlines and Delta but never have enough miles on a single carrier to earn elite status. Credit your trips on both carriers to Alaska Airlines, however, and you might earn MVP or MVP Gold. You will probably never get an upgrade on Delta (and it’s not an option on American), but the checked baggage benefits and bonus miles are better than nothing.
You do need to earn a few extra miles when you credit miles from partner carriers (25,000 with partners for MVP vs. 20,000 for travel on Alaska only), but the option to include flights with more than one airline is a big help. And now you have even more help to draw upon when trying to reach the next level in Mileage Plan.