The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program is among my favorite frequent flyer programs out there:
- They continue to award miles based on distance flown rather than dollars spent
- They have a unique array of airline partners with exceptional mileage earning rates
- Their award redemption rates are excellent, and they even allow stopovers on one-way awards
Alaska is also a useful airline up and down the West Coast, as well as to Mexico, and I’d say I probably fly them 10,000 miles per year on average. If I’m trying to upgrade I usually fly American, but sometimes Alaska works out better. That’s obviously not a lot of flying with them, though at the same time it is nice to have status for those times that I do fly with them given that I almost always get upgraded.
I always have status with Alaska, but it’s never consistent
I’ve had Alaska status for many years, though the status I qualify for is all over the place. A couple of years I had MVP Gold status, last year I had MVP Gold 75K status, and this year I have MVP status. It all depends on how many partner airline flights I credit to Mileage Plan, given what a great product it is.
For those of you not familiar with the program, here are the elite tiers (and I have to qualify based on the second metric, which includes earning on partner airlines).
So far this year I have 44,126 elite qualifying miles with Alaska Mileage Plan. This is thanks to:
- A paid Emirates first class fare from Colombo to Dubai to Brussels earlier this year
- A paid Emirates first class fare from Los Angeles to Dubai to Milan and back a couple of weeks ago
- A couple of random domestic trips on Alaska
Over the coming months I already have the following booked:
- New York to Los Angeles on Alaska (2,475 elite qualifying miles)
- Frankfurt to Whitehorse on Condor in paid business class (9,080 elite qualifying miles)
That means I’m already booked to be at 55,681 elite qualifying miles for the year, which means I’ll requalify for MVP Gold.
That’s more than enough for me, and certainly covers any needs I have for flying Alaska.
Is it worth mileage running for MVP Gold 75K?
It’s not like I’m super close to earning MVP Gold 75K status, as I’d need 90,000 elite qualifying miles, or just under 35,000 additional elite qualifying miles. The reason I’m seriously considering this is because you earn 50,000 bonus redeemable miles when you earn MVP Gold 75K status. I value Alaska miles at close to two cents each, so that’s almost $1,000 worth of miles right there. That’s on top of Alaska’s normally very high mileage earning rates.
To prorate the 50,000 bonus miles across 35,000 miles of flying, that’s basically the equivalent of a further 150% mileage bonus.
For example, for flying Condor business class you earn 200% elite qualifying miles, 300% redeemable miles, a 100% MVP Gold mileage bonus, plus this prorated 150% mileage bonus. So for my incremental flying in Condor business class I’d be earning the equivalent of 550% of flown miles. That’s crazy generous.
Mileage earning rates are similarly good on other airline partners.
Not even half of the year is over, so realistically I could shift some domestic flying to Alaska, and I imagine I’d then only need maybe 20,000 elite qualifying miles, which I could easily knock out with one international trip on a partner airline.
For those of you who are Alaska loyalists, I’m curious how you decide whether to go for MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K, assuming you don’t actually need to fly 90,000 revenue miles per year with them and their partners? Given the 50,000 mile bonus for earning MVP Gold 75K status, do you go so far as to take a mileage run to earn the status?
I’m sure I’m not the only one in a situation like this…