Many people requested status matches to Alaska Airlines this year, and I think that’s great. It’s a good airline and probably the only domestic airline I am excited to fly with. However, requalifying for elite status may be difficult if you don’t live in one of its main markets. Fortunately Alaska is reported to be offering some members the chance to buy up if they fall short of their existing elite tier.
Prices are much more reasonable than the offers from some competing carriers. In the example given by BallardFlyer, a member with MVP Gold 75K status, those who short by less than 500 miles will be bumped up as a complimentary gesture of good will. This is consistent with past reports, though I have never faced this situation myself. If you’re short by 500 to 5,000 EQM you will need to pay:
- 500 to 1,500 EQM = $200 charge
- 1,500 to 3,000 EQM = $400 charge
- 3,000 to 5,000 EQM = $575 charge
In another example by patpatpatme, a member with MVP status, anyone within 500 miles still gets their status for free. However, the allowable shortfall is much narrower:
- 500 to 1,500 EQM = $200
- 1,500 to 2,500 EQM = $400
These are reports by two members, but they are consistent with what I know of Alaska’s past practices. Importantly, the offer is not published online. You’ll need to call within the first week of January if you are truly worried about falling short.
Historically there has not been much difference in benefits between Gold and 75K status aside from better upgrade priority and a bunch of extra miles. Both get free drinks and sometimes chocolate if you’re stuck in coach, although I do have good upgrade odds.
Changes to Alaska’s extra legroom seating next year make MVP Gold 75K status even more important since MVP and MVP Gold members in some fare classes will not be able to secure extra legroom at the time of booking. Still, more extra legroom seats overall mean I’m not very worried as a MVP Gold member myself. In addition, I usually do book the eligible fares since these are the same ones required to use an MVP Gold Guest Upgrade.
How does this compare to other airlines? American is charging as much as $1,199 if you fall 5,000 miles short of its Executive Platinum tier (normally 100K EQM)or $699 if you fall 5,000 miles short of its Platinum tier (normally 50K EQM). So Alaska’s prices are lower, but it’s also offering much less latitude. American will let you buy your way back if you’re short by as much as 15,000 EQM.