The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has historically only agreed to provide status matches to MVP or MVP Gold. Those who wanted MVP Gold 75K — the highest elite tier — still had to earn it the hard way. But One Mile at a Time reports that some people on FlyerTalk have been receiving more accommodating approvals from Mileage Plan representatives in recent weeks.
Some of these responses have been coming from firstname.lastname@example.org but I also suggest using the contact information found on the Alaska Airlines website. Give ’em a call and see what they can do. I generally find their agents to answer quickly, even if you don’t have status at the moment.
How Valuable Is Alaska’s MVP Gold 75K Status?
I’ve talked a lot about Alaska Airlines on this blog partly because they’re headquartered in the same city where I live. I also think they have great service. The product is lacking in a few areas, but this is of lesser concern for me. Their non-stop route network is almost unbeatable in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s pretty good throughout the rest of the West Coast. You can also credit travel on American Airlines and Delta Airlines, two much larger carriers that fill in any of Alaska’s holes.
Learn more about Alaska Airlines and the various perks of Mileage Plan in my presentation from the recent Chicago Seminars.
Alaska Airlines has one really amazing benefit for its MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members: You can cancel any ticket and receive a full credit to use on a future flight. Yes, this applies to paid fares. It allows you to speculatively book tickets that you think you might use, and then either cancel them when plans change or re-book if the fare drops.
Not Much Difference between MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K
MVP Gold is relatively easy to obtain, requiring only 40,000 miles if you fly exclusively on Alaska Airlines (crediting miles from partners raises this requirement to 50,000 miles). You can learn more about the normal qualification requirements and elite benefits online.
While I really like MVP Gold, I don’t see a lot of marginal value in MVP Gold 75K. The biggest perks, as Ben points out, are:
- 50,000 bonus award miles
- Better upgraded priority
- Free MVP status for a friend
Megan will earn her own MVP Gold status this year so there is no need to gift her MVP. The miles are definitely valuable: there are relatively easy ways to purchase 50,000 miles, but it will cost you ~$1,000. I’m not sure it is worth it to mileage run just for MVP Gold 75K as the cost/benefit may balance out, and besides, it’s reported that the bonus miles will not be provided for status matches.
As for upgrades, I have found that my upgrade success is already pretty good as a MVP Gold member. Megan and I even once received a complimentary upgrade from Seattle to Maui, and MVP Gold members receive four codes annually they can use for themselves or others to confirm an upgrade in advance. It’s not that MVP Gold 75K won’t make your upgrade odds even better, but it may not be necessary depending on your route.
Should You Request a Status Match Now?
I think some kind of status with Alaska is important if you live near an airport with frequent service and that you can do just find with MVP Gold. The real question is whether MVP Gold 75K all that big a deal. Probably not. That’s not a knock against MVP Gold 75K but rather a realization that MVP Gold is already pretty good.
But if you are coming from Premier 1K with United, Diamond Medallion with Delta, or Executive Platinum with American, I agree: It kind of stinks to be told that you can only be matched to a mid-tier status that requires less than half as many miles flown.
If you take advantage of Alaska’s newfound laxity, your matched status will last through December 31, 2015. That’s another key point to remember about Mileage Plan: status runs on a calendar year and will not extend a month or two into the early parts of the following year as with many other programs.
What Can You Get from Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan?
As I argued in my Chicago Seminars presentation on Alaska Airlines, which you can download on SlideShare, crediting flights to Mileage Plan makes a lot of sense even if they aren’t a major airline at your local airport. Some people don’t have status, or have very low status that can be replaced with an airline credit card. In that case, you should be more concerned with the value of your miles rather than the elite status that probably isn’t providing much benefit.
Alaska Airlines has a fairly generous program when it comes to earning and redeeming miles. Nearly all flights earn 100% award miles, and you’ll earn at least 500 miles per segment even without any elite status. The award chart can be complicated, with a different table for every airline and every region, but it has a lot of good values.
Alaska Airlines charges the same price for flights to Alaska as it does to the rest of the continental U.S. and provides discounted awards if you fly within the same state.
You can redeem only 140,000 miles to fly round-trip to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific first class. For the same price you can fly all the way to South Africa.
Alaska allows one stopover on one-way awards. That means two stopovers on round-trip awards. You can even include a stopover on domestic awards.
Fiji Airways is one of the few airlines to serve Fiji. Good luck finding award flights since they aren’t a member of any alliance. But they do have a few non-alliance partners, including Alaska Airlines. (I still wonder if I might be living inside my own Truman Show. How would I know for sure?)
So while there are some reasons to think that MVP Gold 75K status is not all that more lucrative than MVP Gold, it is still nice to know that a new status match opportunity appears to be available.
Note that Alaska Airlines only provides one status match in the lifetime of your account, but rules are made to be broken. As I tell many people inquiring about status match opportunities, the best way to figure out what you can get is to ask the program. Tell them what you have and what you want. You may not get what you’re hoping for, but you will get the most official answer to your query. Reports from other members provide encouragement but are no substitute for making your own request.