Historically Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has offered one of the most generous status match programs of any airline out there. Unfortunately some serious cuts have just been made to the program.
Go figure these changes have been made on what just happens to be the best day of the year for requesting a status match from them (as I’ll explain below).
Alaska’s Elite Status Requirements
Alaska has three elite tiers — MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K. Here are the requirements to qualify for status:
As you can see, there are different requirements depending on whether you’re qualifying exclusively through travel on Alaska, or also through travel on their partner airlines. One of the best things about Alaska is the unique partner airlines they have, and how you can qualify for status with them exclusively through partner airline travel, if you want to.
Alaska Mileage Plan partners include the following:
|Aer Lingus||El Al||Icelandair||Qantas|
|American Airlines||Emirates||Japan Airlines||Ravn Alaska|
|British Airways||Fiji Airways||Korean Air||Singapore Airlines|
|Cathay Pacific||Finnair||LATAM Airlines|
Unfortunately with these changes, you’ll have to do quite a bit of travel on Alaska to actually maintain status long-term.
Alaska Airlines’ New Status Match Challenge
Historically Alaska Mileage Plan has offered status matches to all three of their elite tiers — MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K. They’ve offered pretty much “no strings attached” status matches, where you’d receive status through the end of the qualification period with no flying required.
So, what is changing?
- You can still be matched to MVP, MVP Gold, or MVP Gold 75K, though the status match is only valid for three months
- In order to maintain the status beyond that you need to earn the following elite miles exclusively through travel on Alaska within that 90 day period (travel on partner airlines doesn’t qualify):
- You need to earn 5,000 elite miles to maintain MVP status
- You need to earn 10,000 elite miles to maintain MVP Gold status
- You need to earn 20,000 elite miles to maintain MVP Gold 75K status
- Status matches are only valid for those who have achieved elite status through actual flight miles or segments in another program, and not those who have achieved status through credit card activity, transferred points, or other promotional offers
You’ll now have to do significant flying on Alaska to complete a status challenge
- Status match challenges are only available for legal residents of the US and Canada
- Allow up to four weeks for verification of your status match challenge request and approval
- If a status match challenge is initiated between October 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, then status will be valid through the end of 2020 upon successful completion of the challenge
- If status march challenge is initiated between July 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, then status will be valid through the end of 2021 upon successful completion of the challenge
Alaska Mileage Plan Elite Benefits
Here’s a chart with the benefits of each elite tier:
More big picture, here’s what makes Alaska Mileage Plan special:
- They continue to award miles based on distance flown rather than how much you spend
- They let MVP Gold members and above cancel revenue tickets for free, and the value of the ticket is placed in their “travel bank” and can be applied towards a future ticket
- They have a great same day flight change policy
- All elites get unlimited complimentary upgrades, and MVP Gold members and above receive four upgrade certificates they can use to confirm an upgrade in advance
- They have great mileage bonuses — MVP Gold members earn a 100% mileage bonus, while MVP Gold 75K members earn a 125% mileage bonus, plus 50,000 bonus miles when they requalify; that means if an MVP Gold 75K member flies 90,000 miles to qualify for status, they’ll really earn 252,500 miles, which is ~280% of the distance flown
- Alaska has great airline partners, so it can be lucrative to fly their partner airlines and then credit miles to Alaska
- The number of miles you can earn for travel on some partner airlines is pretty incredible; for example, for discounted British Airways business class you earn 150% elite qualifying miles and 250% redeemable miles, and this doesn’t include the elite mileage bonus, which can be up to an additional 125%
Alaska has great mileage earning rates for travel on partner airlines
How To Request An Alaska Status Match Challenge
Alaska Mileage Plan has a dedicated status match challenge website. There you’ll be asked to select the status you want to match, enter your Alaska Mileage Plan info, and provide proof of your status with a competitor.
Ways To Earn Alaska Airlines Miles
If you’re looking to earn Mileage Plan miles so that you can redeem on their great airline partners, consider the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card (review) and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card (review). These cards are both offering bonuses of 40,000 Mileage Plan miles, plus a $121+ companion certificate, upon completing minimum spending.
These cards also offer valuable long term perks for Alaska frequent flyers, like a first checked bag free, discounted access to Alaska Lounges, savings on inflight purchases, and more.
If you don’t have either of these cards, you can potentially pick them both up, for a total of 80,000 Alaska miles plus two companion certificates. These are excellent cards.
Redeem Alaska miles for travel in Japan Airlines 787 business class
Historically October 1 was the best day of the year for requesting an Alaska status match, since status was valid for the remainder of the year, and the entire following year.
Go figure as of October 1 of this year Alaska has also greatly adjusted their status match program, and it’s not nearly as generous as it used to be.
You’ll get the status for three months, and if you want to maintain it through the end of 2020 you’ll have to earn 5,000-20,000 elite qualifying miles exclusively through travel on Alaska.
What do you make of the changes to Alaska’s status match program? I suspect those who were considering a status match are disappointed, while Alaska loyalists are probably happy to see Alaska no longer “giving away” status.