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Is It Worth Earning Alaska Airlines Elite Status? Here’s What You Get With Each Tier (2019)

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Is It Worth Earning Alaska Airlines Elite Status? Here’s What You Get With Each Tier (2019)

Ethan SteinbergIs It Worth Earning Alaska Airlines Elite Status? Here’s What You Get With Each Tier (2019)Million Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Alaska Airlines elite members can rack up thousands of miles buying discounted tickets on partner airlines like American and British Airways.

Normally when you’re choosing an airline for which to be loyal, you’d pick the one you fly on most, right?

Wrong. Alaska Airlines offers incredible value, even to people who don’t live in one of its west coast hub cities. I’m currently living in Shanghai, I’ve never once flown on Alaska Airlines, and the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is still my favorite loyalty program in the US by a light year.

Similar to the way Alaska Airlines miles can be used on a wide variety of international partner airlines, Alaska Airlines elite status can be a great way to earn bonus miles when flying on these partners to destinations in Asia, Europe and more. Of course, if you actually do live in a city served by Alaska Airlines, the unlimited complimentary first class upgrades offered to every tier of elite members is a generous perk that other US airlines just don’t have.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know to earn Alaska Airlines elite status and to maximize your benefits.

Flying Alaska Airlines and its partners can open up a world of free travel to just about anywhere. (Photo by pongwan sukpoka/Shutterstock)

Alaska Airlines Elite Status Explained: How To Earn It And What You Get

Alaska Airlines has three different tiers of elite status:

For each tier there are three different ways you can qualify:

  1. Earn enough elite qualifying miles solely from Alaska Airlines flights
  2. Earn slightly more elite qualifying miles through a combination of Alaska Airlines and partner flights
  3. Fly a certain number of segments on Alaska Airlines and eligible partners.

  • MVP: 20,000 elite qualifying miles on Alaska Airlines OR 25,000 elite qualifying miles on Alaska Airlines and eligible partners OR 30 segments on Alaska Airlines and eligible partners
  • MVP Gold: 40,000 elite qualifying miles on Alaska Airlines OR 50,000 elite qualifying miles on Alaska Airlines and eligible partners OR 60 segments on Alaska Airlines and eligible partners
  • MVP Gold 75K:  75,000 elite qualifying miles on Alaska Airlines OR 90,000 elite qualifying miles on Alaska Airlines and eligible partners OR 90 segments on Alaska Airlines and eligible partners

So what exactly do these elite qualifying miles mean? Unlike American Airlines or United Airlines, both of which have a separate number of Elite or Premier Qualifying miles assigned to each fare class, with Alaska Airlines your elite miles are the base flight miles (100% of the distance flown on most fares) and a premium cabin bonus of up to 75% for flights on Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines has no revenue requirement for earning status (you don’t have to spend a certain amount of money with the airline), so you can book the cheapest fares out there and still qualify just as quickly. The downside is that there’s no way to use credit cards to shortcut your quest for elite benefits. While the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card offers an incredibly valuable bonus of 40,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days, it won’t help you qualify for elite status faster.

It’s up to you to decide whether you’re better off qualifying on miles or segments, but given Alaska Airlines’s generous elite qualifying miles earning rate and premium cabin bonuses, most people will be better off qualifying on miles flown rather than flight segments. While the highest class of service bonus you’ll earn on Alaska Airlines operated flights is 75% of the distance flown, that number climbs to 200% for partners like British Airways which offer true long-haul first class seats. You do need to earn more miles to qualify with partner activity, but these massive bonuses can help close the gap.

Now that you know how to earn Alaska Airlines elite status, let’s look at what you get with each level.

1. Alaska Airlines MVP Elite

The lowest tier of Alaska Airlines elite status gets you the following benefits:

  • 50% mileage bonus
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Two free checked bags when flying Alaska Airlines
  • Free preferred seat selection (not available on Alaska Airlines’ new saver fares)
  • Unlimited space available upgrades to Premium Class, which is Alaska Airlines’ version of Economy Plus available on select aircraft
  • Unlimited space available upgrades to First Class

Unfortunately, the biggest determinant of upgrade priority is your level of elite status, so don’t count on sitting at the front of the plane every flight with just MVP status.

2. Alaska Airlines MVP Gold Elite

If you reach the middle tier of Alaska Airlines status you’ll earn the following perks:

  • 100% mileage bonus
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Express security lines (where available) when flying Alaska Airlines
  • Two free checked bags when flying Alaska Airlines
  • Free preferred seat selection (not available on Alaska Airlines’ new saver fares)
  • Unlimited space available upgrades to Premium Class
  • Unlimited space available upgrades to First Class
  • Free drink in the main cabin
  • Partner lounge access
  • Waived fees for: phone ticketing, same day confirmed changes and ticket change/cancellation fees
  • 4 Gold Guest upgrade certificates to upgrade you or a friend or family member on Alaska Airlines operated flights. Note that you’ll need to find a flight with “U” upgrade inventory in order to use these certificates, but Alaska Airlines makes it very easy to search for those flights on its website:

3. Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K Elite

The highest level of Alaska Airlines Elite status comes with even richer benefits:

  • 125% mileage bonus
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Express security lines (where available) when flying Alaska Airlines
  • Two free checked bags when flying Alaska Airlines
  • Free preferred seat selection
  • Unlimited space available upgrades to Premium Class
  • Unlimited space available upgrades to First Class
  • 4 Gold Guest Upgrade certificates (you won’t receive any addition ones for qualifying for MVP 75K status)
  • Free drink in the main cabin
  • 50,000 bonus miles, which is enough for a one-way business class award flight to Asia with a free stopover in Hong Kong. (WOW!)
  • Gift MVP status to a friend or family member
  • Four Alaska Airlines lounge day passes
  • Partner lounge access
  • Fee waivers, similar to MVP Gold elites

In addition to being near the top of the upgrade list, the biggest benefit of MVP Gold 75K status in my opinion is that 50,000 mile bonus. Many airlines offer some type of upgrade certificate, but try and name one other airline that gives you enough miles to fly in business class on one of the world’s best airlines for free.

Is Alaska Airlines Elite Status Worth It?

Earning status with any airline or hotel is a highly personal decision, and only you can decide if it’s right for you. Many people fall into the trap of chasing status and spending hundreds or thousands of dollars they wouldn’t have otherwise spent just to get some incremental benefits.

So I’ll ask a slightly different question: If you travel enough to earn elite status with an airline, is it worth choosing Alaska Airlines?

My answer to that is a resounding “YES!” Alaska Airlines miles are arguably the single most valuable loyalty currency out there, and you’ll rack them up at a much faster rate with elite status. If you’re able to earn top tier status (which doesn’t require as much flying or spending as top tier with United Airlines or American Airlines), you’re in for some nice treats. I seriously can’t overstate the value of that 50,000 mile bonus, not to mention the 125% mileage bonus you’ll earn whether you’re flying Alaska Airlines or a partner like British Airways or American.

Bottom Line

Alaska Airlines is very generous with its elite status, offering three different routes to earn it. The unlimited complimentary upgrades at every level are a nice perk as well, though obviously you’ll get more use out of them if you hold a higher tier of status. Given Alaska Airlines’ extensive network of partners, this might be the most valuable elite status for you to pursue, even if you never plan to actually fly with Alaska Airlines.

For the latest on how to unlock free travel without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

  • Now - 40,000 Bonus Mile + Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ Offer.
  • Get 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Save with a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation.
  • Get Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ every year! Each year on your account anniversary get a companion fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska flights booked on alaskaair.com with no blackout dates.
  • Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. And, your miles don't expire on active accounts.
  • New! Enjoy 50% off day passes at the Alaska Lounge and 20% back on all Alaska Airlines inflight purchases when you pay with your new card.
  • Redeem miles with no blackout dates on any of Alaska's 1,200 daily flights or choose from over 900+ destinations with more than a dozen global airline partners. Plus, get exclusive access to discounted redemption levels when you redeem miles for hotel stays at over 400,000 properties using Alaska Airlines Hotels.
  • Plus, no foreign transaction fees and a low $75 annual fee.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I made a handy little Google Sheet to Track your Alaska Airlines MVP status. All you do is enter your flights miles, airline, and segments, and it’ll let you know where you’ll be in MVP Status.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1EeynwH0rCzOuO2nH0fQqm8S1pjQU21Yvq8vXWVRmRn0/edit?usp=sharing