Alaska Airlines has just adjusted how status in the Mileage Plan program can be earned in 2021. For most people this will make it easier to earn status, but not for everyone.
Alaska Mileage Plan adjusts elite requirements
Alaska Airlines is changing 2021 elite qualification, which applies for those looking to earn status for the 2022 program year. I’d assume there are a few reasons status qualification is being adjusted:
- Alaska Airlines is joining the oneworld alliance as of March 31, 2021, which will change its dynamics with partner airlines
- Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are launching a strategic partnership that will include reciprocal upgrades, so the airline presumably wants to create metal neutrality as much as possible
- Airline loyalty programs in general are reducing elite requirements for 2021, given demand won’t have recovered to pre-coronavirus levels
Alaska Airlines is joining oneworld in 2021
So, how is status qualification changing? Let’s compare 2020 and 2021 elite requirements.
2020 Alaska Mileage Plan elite requirements
For context, up until now Alaska Mileage Plan has has had different qualification thresholds depending on whether you qualify for status exclusively through travel on Alaska, or if you qualify through travel on a combination of Alaska and its partners:
- MVP status has required 20,000 elite miles or 30 segments on Alaska, OR 25,000 elite miles or 30 segments on a combination of Alaska and partners
- MVP Gold status has required 40,000 elite miles or 60 segments on Alaska, OR 50,000 elite miles or 60 segments on a combination of Alaska and partners
- MVP Gold 75K status has required 75,000 elite miles or 90 segments on Alaska, OR 90,000 elite miles or 90 segments on a combination of Alaska and partners
2021 Alaska Mileage Plan elite requirements
For 2021, Alaska Mileage Plan will no longer differentiate between travel on Alaska and travel on partner airlines for the purposes of elite qualification… sort of. Here’s how you can earn 2021 Alaska Mileage Plan status:
- MVP status will require 20,000 elite miles or 30 segments, AND at least two segments on Alaska
- MVP Gold status will require 40,000 elite miles or 60 segments, AND at least four segments on Alaska
- MVP Gold 75K status will require 75,000 elite miles or 90 segments, AND at least six segments on Alaska
Is the new status qualification easier?
With these changes, it’ll be easier to earn status through travel on partner airlines in terms of the number of miles you have to fly, but you’ll also have to fly a minimum number of segments on Alaska, which wasn’t previously the case.
For most people I’d say these changes make it easier to earn Alaska, though at the same time I know some people outside the US who earn status with Mileage Plan without ever flying Alaska (which can be a smart strategy).
For those people this is probably a negative change, though the truth is that I think Alaska is fine if they lose some customers who never actually fly with the airline.
In 2021 you’ll need to fly a minimum number of segments on Alaska
Will these elite requirements stick around?
As of now these are the elite requirements for 2021, though only time will tell if Mileage Plan takes a similar approach in future years. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised to see this hybrid qualification concept stick around, where you can earn status primarily through travel on partner airlines, though still have to fly a certain number of flights on Alaska.
I think this does a good job of encouraging the type of travel that Mileage Plan is looking for.
The number of elite miles required on partner airlines is being reduced
In 2021 Alaska Mileage Plan will be reducing the number of elite miles required to earn status, while at the same time requiring a minimum number of flights on Alaska. This all comes as the Seattle-based airline prepares to join the oneworld alliance in the spring.
Overall I’d consider these changes to be positive. The Mileage Plan program is particularly compelling, and I’m hoping the value proposition doesn’t change too much when Alaska joins the oneworld alliance.
What do you make to these changes to Alaska Mileage Plan elite qualification?