Alaska Airlines’ New Status Match Challenge

Filed Under: Alaska
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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 LingusEl AlIcelandairQantas
American AirlinesEmiratesJapan AirlinesRavn Alaska
British AirwaysFiji AirwaysKorean AirSingapore Airlines
Cathay PacificFinnairLATAM Airlines
CondorHainan AirlinesPenAir

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

Furthermore:

  • 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.

See this post for everything you need to know on the best credit cards for earning Alaska miles.

Redeem Alaska miles for travel in Japan Airlines 787 business class

Bottom Line

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.

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Comments
  1. So any other good choices for folks losing AA ex Plat status? Even though I’m not keeping my status, I’m ticketed through year end.

  2. As a 75k I love it. Even though I only got into AS when fleeing UAL/1K via this match program several years ago. Some life rafts are single use only 🙂

    Just keep the rest of the mileage plan program intact… It’s perhaps the only thing that keeps me with AS versus DL.

  3. Times like this that I hate basing on the east coast. I keep hoping for an Alaska merger with JetBlue. But that will probably lead them to a new program that is crap like everyone else..

  4. @Abe – very similar sentiments! I moved over from UA 1K last year when I relocated to Seattle. The match to 75K was very nice! That said, I would have easily hit the 3 month challenge, anyhow. Funny thing is that I’m doing a Platinum challenge on Delta right now. I’ve had some bad luck with my weekly SEA-ORD route (too many delays to count), so I figured I would try DL. So far I feel like it’s kind of a wash (service, hard product, etc.) Where Alaska really still shines is Mileage Plan – so please keep that intact!

  5. I am MVP Gold 75k (acchieved by crediting a few LHR-SYD QF returns), and I just flew my very first AS segment a couple of weeks ago, it was SEA-OAK on domestic first. It was really dissapointing. The seat was not comfortable at all, no predeparture drink (only a Dasani at the seat), and no meal service, just a snack basket with the lower quality ones (no KIND bars, beef jerky, etc).

    I’ll have a transcon with them later, hope it will be better.

    Their FF program is a gem though.

  6. Does anyone know if the lifetime rules reset with this change? I matched to gold two years ago but was unable to keep it and it would be nice to know I could match when a better time comes.

  7. Can I participate as an existing 75k? I’m definitely going to fly 20k miles in the next three months, but won’t otherwise requalify.

    Asking partially in jest…

  8. Really happy that I status matched from AA earlier this year. 4/4 on transcon upgrades, really nice crews, cleaner planes and better food than AA, and mostly on time.

  9. “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”

    @Lucky

    You didn’t include MVP; Elite Bonus RDM for MVP is 50%.

    MVPG75K is achieved with 75K EQM on AS or 90K EQM on AS+Partners. It is whatever threshold you pass first. If you earn less than 15K EQM on Partners you still need to fly 75K on AS to attain MVPG 75K. Any Partner EQM is meaningless unless it is over 15K.

    Be careful in saying that flying 90,000 miles on Partners will attain MVPG 75K. A mile flown on a Partner flight does not always equate to 1 EQM. EQM earnings on Partners are based on the fare bucket purchased on the Partner flight. At one end is QF that earns 100% EQM on all fare buckets while at the other end discounted Y on SQ earns Zilch, Nada, Nothing. In between, FJ earns 100% on most Y fare buckets with the 3 lowest discount buckets still earning 50%. Flying CX in S class would require 360,000 miles of flight (25% EQM). The Elite bonuses are calculated on the EQM base, not the miles flown.

    Of course, in premium cabins that have a Class of Service Bonus, the COS is also EQM so flying fewer miles is also possible. Your BA J example applies to R & I fare buckets. Fare buckets J, C & D MP earns 350% before Elite bonuses so 400%, 450% & 475% respectively with. You would only need to fly 36,000 miles in BA J in any of those fare buckets to attain MVPG 75K in Mileage Plan. As a 75K you would earn 221,000 RDM with the 50K bonus;

    Overall, the best FF by a long shot. I requalified for MVPG 75K in mid-May on 80K+ Partner and 13K on AS.

    James

  10. E30st – no domestic carrier serves a meal on Bay Area – SEA flights (or any other less-than-two-hours-in-the-air route I can think of). Not sure why that was a surprise.

    PDBs are hit or miss, but I’m generally offered them more often on AS than on UA.

  11. @Shza
    I am based in Europe, that was my first domestic flight in the US west coast. The flight was blocked at 2h 10mins, so I thought they might have something, if they call it “first class”.
    Here we get a lot of criticism for intra-europe bizclass, even lucky always starts his reviews as “it’s nothing to get excited about”. But even sub-1hour flights on most carriers include a full meal.

  12. So the EQDs and EQMs earned from the Aviator Silver mean I can’t match my AA EXP to 75k? Do they call AA to confirm this? If I try to match to 75k and it isn’t valid do they match to MVP Gold or just reject the request and I have to apply again? Do you have to earn those miles 3 months after you request the match or 3 months after they approve it? Aka if I have travel this weekend but they take 4 weeks to reply, will my flight count towards the miles needed? Are the miles needed actual miles flown or EQMs such that buying first class tickets could make the 20k doable based on my EOY travel? So many unanswered questions.

  13. @Matt

    If you purchase into First Class, you earn a 75% Class of service bonus. For a MVPG 75K challenge, you need 20K EQM. With the COS bonus, you would need ~11,500 Miles in paid F.

    The 3 months will be from the date the challenge is approved. Not sure if a prior flight would count. This is the first year for a status challenge so there is going to be a lot of questions that nobody has experience with yet.

    James

  14. My wife was gifted AA plat pro this year for three months from American. She has flown 10k miles this year on American. Do you think the status match will go through? The app home screen could make it seem like she had the status last year and isn’t Requalifying this year

  15. @James — Thanks for the info! Initially I didn’t realize Alaska’s COS bonus was only 75%, I’d assumed it was 100%.

    @Nathan — I earned AA EXP really only because of the EQDs and EQMs I earned with the Aviator Silver card. Knowing I was leaving AA I moved my business around this year and in the screenshot I sent to Alaska I wasn’t remotely close to re-qualifying for EXP this year. Neither of these seemed to factor into the decision and they matched me fully to MVP Gold 75k (thankfully). So your wife *may* be able to status match, but I certainly couldn’t tell you for sure. Keep in mind that earned AA status expires Jan 31, 2020; if that is not your wife’s expiration date then it’s possible they would know she only earned temporary status.

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