One of my favorite features of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program are its generous upgrades. MVP Gold members who fly 40,000 miles each year with Alaska (or 50,000 miles with Alaska and its partners) get four upgrade certificates that they can use on any flight. A few limitations exist, but many fare classes are eligible. Even better, you can apply them to tickets purchased with the Alaska credit card companion fare.
But what happens if you change or cancel a ticket? Or if you move up your flight to get home earlier? These are easy things to do with MVP Gold elite status since there are no change fees.
Asking for Upgrades to Be Returned
In fact, you can send a quick email to Alaska Airlines (or call them) with the information about the flight in question and ask that the upgrade be returned to you. You could cite the exact upgrade code if you have it, but I usually just provide the original confirmation code and flight number.
Alaska has a pretty dire sounding warning that suggests you won’t get your upgrade back. Something along the lines of “if you cancel this flight, the upgrade will not be returned to you.” That’s actually intended as a warning to non-elite members; they are called Gold Guest Upgrades, after all. The upgrade will not be returned to the guest, but it can be requested by the member who originally earned it. The code will be redeposited after a manual request to be used again (either by the elite member or by another of their guests).
Upgrade Expiration May Be Extended
In the past, some of my upgrades that were returned were submitted with an extended expiration date. For example, here is a screenshot of some 2015 upgrades that were returned near the end of the year. The new upgrade codes had an expiration date of 12/31/2016. They were extended for a full year.
You do not need to remain an MVP Gold member to use upgrade codes, either for yourself or others. They are just coupon codes, like a discount or a companion fare, and can be used at any time as long as they haven’t expired.
I’m not quite sure why upgrades are being returned with an extra year of validity, why they can still be used after status expires, or why it’s so complicated to request that an upgrade be returned. But it works, gosh darn it, and I’m definitely thankful. Hopefully it works for you too!