American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have announced reciprocal upgrades for elite customers. The airlines previously announced upgrades were coming with little details of how upgrades would work for each airline elite passengers flying the other airline. Yet with Alaska Airlines officially joining OneWorld today, more details have emerged on how passengers will be upgraded when flying each airline.
Alaska Airline Elites Flying American Airlines
For now, Alaska Airline 75K elites will be upgraded after all American Airline frequent flyers and elites. Alaska Airlines 75K elites can upgrade on the day of departure, at or after check-in. This means only if space is still available. Alaska Airline’s 75K Elite flyers can also upgrade a companion on the same reservation. Granted, this is only if space is available. Which on day of departure is highly unlikely.
Alaska Airlines 75K elites can enjoy upgrades on flights within North America. This includes within the U.S. (including Hawaii) and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America.
Per Alaska Airlines, later in 2021 Alaska Airline 75K flyers will be prioritized after American Airlines Platinum Pros, but before Platinum flyers. This will include elite flyers automatically being added to the upgrade waitlist for eligible American Airlines flights and eligible to clear as soon as 72 hours prior to travel.
Long-haul international upgrades are also coming. In late 2021, MVP Gold 75K members qualifying for status for 2022 will receive an upgrade certificate valid for travel on eligible American Airlines international routes. More details will come fall of 2021. About the same time details of Alaska’s 100K status rolls out.
Other than upgrades on domestic first class, Mileage Plan elite members have complimentary access to select extra legroom seats – known as Main Cabin Extra seating – on American Airlines flights.
- MVP® Gold and MVP Gold 75K members can access these seats at the time of booking.
- MVP members can access Main Cabin Extra seats within 24 hours of travel.
Main cabin extra and Alaska’s Premium class are very similar. Both offer free snack and alcohol.
American Airline Elites Upgrades on Alaska Airlines
American Airlines Executive Platinum elites can enjoy more upgrades on Alaska Airlines and clear the upgrade list before the day of departure. Executive Platinums will be added to upgrade list and clear after Alaska 75Ks, but before Alaska’s Gold elites. Executive Platinum elites when flying Alaska Airlines upgrades may clear at 120 hours prior to departure. Unfortunately, Executive Platinum flyers cannot upgrade companions at this time. In addition, saver fares do not qualify for upgrades.
All of American Airline elites will also have access to Alaska Airlines Premium class for free. Similar to Alaska’s own priority for Premium class, American Elites can select seats at time of purchase.
- Executive platinum’s have access to Premium class for all fares except savers.
- Platinum and Platinum pro who purchase Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fares after ticket purchase. All other fares at 72 hours before departure. This is the same as Alaska Gold Elites
- American Ruby who purchase Y, B or H fares after ticket purchase. All other fares at 48 hours before departure. This is the same as Alaska MVP.
Remember, saver fare tickets never have access to Premium Class seats when flying Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Airline elites will have more access to more First Class seats and possible upgrades than American Airline flyers, but will less likely benefit from this new offering. This is only because American Airlines has a larger network. However, until Alaska elites join the upgrade order, Alaska’s 75Ks will likely not see many upgrades.
Planes are filling up more quickly as more people are being vaccinated and returning to travel after a year of lockdown. Therefore, initially American Airline top tier elites are getting better benefits out of this partnership than Alaska frequent flyers. This will change though once Alaska elites are eligible for upgrades at T-72hours. In addition, more changes are likely to occur to upgrade order once Alaska introduces a 100K top tier elite. Then Alaska and American’s frequent flyer program will have similar requirements per elite level.
Expect more announcements and more changes to this program later this year.