Alaska Airlines Changing Elite Status Perks – Adds Restrictions to Airport Lounge Passes

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Alaska Airlines Changing Elite Status Perks – Adds Restrictions to Airport Lounge Passes

AlexAlaska Airlines Changing Elite Status Perks – Adds Restrictions to Airport Lounge PassesMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Alaska Airlines has silently deployed a few tweaks to their Elite Status plan going into 2019 that might come as a shock to the airline’s most loyal flyers.  First, the 4 lounge passes offered to Alaska Airlines’ MVP Gold 75K members (Alaska Airlines’ highest elite status tier) can no longer be gifted.  Second, the in-flight entertainment tablets will no longer be offered on all but a few certain transcontinental flights or those to Hawaii.

This is a bit of a devaluation to Alaska Airlines’ highest elite status tier, the MVP Gold 75K member.  I am a huge fan of Alaska Airlines’ elite status program because it is relatively easy to maintain and offers great perks to improve your flying experience.  Alaska Airlines miles are valuable because they can be used to book award flights with great partners, like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.  Keith just used Alaska Airlines miles to book $30,000+ in Cathay Pacific First Class seats for under $200!

So I was eager to jump in and see how these new changes affect my opinion of the elite status program now.

Will These Changes to Alaska Airlines Elite Status Affect You?

Alaska Airlines Complimentary Lounge Passes Can No Longer Be Gifted

MVP Gold 75K members receive 4 complimentary Alaska Airlines Lounge Passes upon qualifying for that status each year.  The thing is, most flyers who travel frequently enough on Alaska Airlines to qualify for this tier, already have a lounge access through a credit card or by purchasing it outright.

With an Alaska Airlines lounge membership, you can already bring immediate family or 2 guests for free into a lounge with you when traveling together.  So these passes were generally used by elite members to gift lounge access to friends and family when they weren’t traveling together.  But under the new rules, the lounge passes now only work when the member is traveling with the guests who are using the pass.

This is a perplexing change because it makes these complimentary passes much less useful in my opinion.  As a lounge member, I would already be able to bring my travel companions with me into a lounge if we are traveling together.  So the only real use for these now is to use them when I am traveling with more than my family or 2 guests (which is rare).

Bye Bye In-Flight Entertainment Tablets

Alaska Airlines offers WiFi on all of their planes now.  And they use this WiFi for their entertainment system.  Connecting to the WiFi, you can stream (for free) movies and TV shows to a tablet, phone, or computer.

Alaska Airlines has offered In-Flight Entertainment tablets as an alternative to using your own device.  These tablets were previously available on all flights over 3.5 hours in length (and I usually saw them on much shorter flights too, such as my regular Salt Lake City to Seattle flights which are only 2 hours).  They could be rented for a bit extra, but they were offered to First Class seats for free, and to MVP Gold 75K members in all seat classes.

Alaska Airlines seems to be silently phasing out this program, claiming that they want to make room for more beverage and food options.  These tablets will now only be available on “certain transcontinental flights” and flights to/from Hawaii.

Most Folks Who Fly Regularly Probably Already Have a Device They Can Stream Movies On

For MVP Gold 75K members who relied on these tablets, this could come as a major devaluation to their status.   I personally never used these tablets because I always fly with my iPad, which I would prefer to use it anyway.  I enjoy using my active noise-canceling bluetooth headphones with my own device anyway.

These Changes Will Devalue MVP Gold 75K Status

To earn MVP Gold 75K elite status with Alaska Airlines, you must qualify by flying 75,000 miles on Alaska Airlines or 90 flight segments in a calendar year.  This is a significant amount of flying since this equates to flying ~1,443 miles per week, all year long.  So we would expect the payoff for reaching this tier to be significant as well.

The differentiating perks that you earn when you reach MVP Gold 75K over normal MVP Gold includes:

  • 50,000 bonus Alaska Airlines miles upon qualifying
  • 4 Complimentary Alaska Airlines Lounge Passes
  • Faster mile earning (125% bonus miles compared to 100% with MVP Gold)
  • Complimentary in-flight entertainment player
  • Gift someone a complimentary MVP status

With these recent changes, 2 of these 5 perks have been changed.

I am pretty understanding of the tablet removal.  It was probably a huge IT headache to maintain these devices and according to flight attendants, the storage and charging systems for them take up significant amounts of space in the galley.  Plus most travelers already bring phones, computers, and tablets to stream this content already.  So suppling the tablets is a bit redundant.  This change was inevitable.

Removing the ability to gift the complimentary Alaska Airlines lounge passes is a bit more of devaluation of this status tier in my opinion.  Most flyers of this status level will already have Alaska Airline’s lounge membership, allowing them to already bring guests in for free when traveling with them.  Unless you travel with a huge group and want to bring them all in, I can’t see these being very useful anymore and might even go un-used.

Overall, this may put less value on Alaska Air’s highest elite status tier compared to their MVP Gold status which only requires 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles flown during a calendar year (nearly half as many miles).

Do you think these changes will still make MVP Gold 75K worth reaching for?

Ready to learn the secrets to using miles & points to travel for much less?  Then subscribe to our newsletter and get them delivered to you every day!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 33,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels and 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

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! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

5comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Alex, 75K is not worth it. The story is bigger than this. AS Severely Cuts What Was Good and Raises Prices. 75K group most impacted.

75K passes can be gifted, but must be initiated in person (by the 75K member) with a concierge in a Lounge or by emailing Alaska’s lounge admin. This is not an actual change in policy, just implementing the policy already in place, due to abuse of the system.
It’s also worth mentioning Seattle Alaska Lounges no longer have an agreement with Priority Pass. If you plan on getting a credit card with a hefty annual fee keep in mind there must be space available in the room, and the Priority Pass cannot be used in Alaska’s Lounges in Seattle.

For such a sensational title, this is really comprised of one very minor and one non existent reduction.

Why even have them only few rich share holders can use them i think its waste of airport space public can see but dont touch
An most business comes from public that have no access to the lounge only few rich people only 10% of Alaska airlines business comes from who use the lounge

Last few flights @ PDX & SEA Alaska lounge was closed to Priority pass members “due to capacity issues” even late in the evening when few flights were scheduled outbound, at the very least they should allow AS ticketed passengers with Priority Pass membership entrance. Alaska is looking too complete with the lowest ranked US carriers when they used to be at the top pre-Virgin merger.

Just flew AS from HNL – 6hrs and no AC/USB for seats B & C on my row. Couldn’t use laptop or recharge our phones.