This morning, Alaska Airlines announced a major enhancement to their Frequent Flyer program, Mileage Plan, by announcing that all international airline partners would be eligible for earning elite qualifying miles towards Alaska Airlines MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP 75K starting January 15, 2014. In the past, only Aeromexico, Air France, American, Delta, Emirates, KLM, & LAN earned elite qualifying miles. (Since then, Aeromexico, Air France/KLM, and Delta have ended their partnerships with Alaska Airlines while other partners like JAL and Singapore Airlines have been added.) Yet with 14 airline partners, the majority of their international partners only earned redeemable miles, making it hard to earn elite status when flying over seas on Alaska’s partners.
This is GREAT news for Alaska Airline flyers and truly makes the Alaska Airline Mileage Plan program a whole lot better. Alaska already offers some amazing deals when it comes to using frequent flyer miles and now I believe people will be more likely to credit their miles towards Alaska Airline instead of American because they are not restricted by airline alliances. As Alaska breaks alliance barriers and code shares and has reciprocal earning benefits with airlines from both OneWorld and SkyTeam, along with non-aligned partners such as Emirates & Fiji Airline. In addition, I suspect that all flights, regardless of class of service will earn the same amount of elite miles as redeemable miles.
The 14 Airlines that Mileage Plan members will be able to earn both elite miles and segments on starting January 1 include the following:
Again, I stress how great this is for Mileage Plan members because even Delta, American, and other major airlines do not allow frequent flyers to earn elite qualifying miles on partners. For example, Delta recently made it nearly impossible to earn EQM on Korean Air, yet now if you choose to credit the KE flight to Alaska Airline, their frequent flyers will be able to earn elite miles on Korean, one upping the Delta SkyMiles program! Not to mention even American does not offer 100% earning rates on most Qantas flights, making Alaska again the ONLY airline to do so!
Many airlines are currently devaluing their programs, but Alaska instead is making enhancements we all want and need. I hope that this enhancement will not be an excuse for Alaska to raise their award chart prices. When I lived in Seattle I used to be Alaska MVP Gold and my upgrade percentage on Alaska was nearly 100%. My travel companion upgrades were nearly 95%. Elite status on Alaska is truly unlike other programs (details to come in a future post), but with easier earning opportunities this may increase the number of MVPs and make upgrades more difficult for elites.
Stay tuned for more information on this as it develops.