Alaska Offering Bonus Miles & Elite Status To College Students Based On Their GPA

Filed Under: Alaska

It’s always great to see airlines thinking outside the box with promotions they offer. While this is narrowly targeted at University of Washington students, Alaska has just come out with a very cool promotion.

Through October 31, 2017, Alaska is offering 5,000 bonus Mileage Plan miles to new or existing Mileage Plan members who are students at the University of Washington and register with a valid school email address.

On top of that, you can receive status with Alaska based on your GPA in the fall 2017 quarter:

  • If your GPA was 3.5-3.9, you get MVP status for 2018
  • If your GPA was 4.0, you get MVP Gold status for 2018

Status will be awarded by January 30, 2018, and will be valid through December 31, 2018.

Interestingly it looks like Alaska and the University of Washington will be sharing information to confirm your GPA, including your name, date of birth, student email address, and GPA range.

Man, if only they had promotions like this when I was in school I might have actually been motivated. šŸ˜‰

The full terms of the promotion are as follows:

* Offer is valid for University of Washington students who register for the promotion by October 31, 2017, with a valid University of Washington email address. By registering for the promotion, you consent to Alaska Airlines and University of Washington sharing information (including your name, date of birth, UW email address, and confirmation of your GPA range) as necessary to provide confirmation to Alaska Airlines of your eligibility for MVP or MVP Gold status based on your autumn quarter 2017 GPA. Students earning a 3.5 – 3.9 GPA will be awarded MVP status by January 30, 2018, valid through December 31, 2018. Students earning a 4.0 GPA will be awarded MVP Gold status by January 30, 2018, valid through December 31, 2018.

GPA qualification is not required for the 5,000 bonus miles. Allow 1-2 weeks after registering for the 5,000 bonus miles to be posted to your Mileage Plan account. An individual may receive the bonus a maximum of one time, even if they hold multiple separate Mileage Plan accounts. Offer is not combinable with other Mileage Plan enrollment or account activation promotions. Mileage Plan terms and conditions apply.

Well done, Alaska!

Are any University of Washington students able to take advantage of this?

(Tip of the hat to Frequent Flyer Bonuses)

  1. Only University of Washington šŸ™
    I clicked in excitement from UF but that splashed quite quickly :/

  2. I graduated from a UW program in 2014, but I still have an active UW email account. I was able to successfully enroll using my address. Now I’ll see if any points post.

  3. Darn, my kid goes to University of Idaho. Heā€™d completely qualify for MVP if they included UI in this promotion. šŸ™

  4. I think this is actually a really good idea for airlines to build up brand loyalty and for universities to differentiate themselves (rather than building a lazy river on campus like some schools). Bravo!

  5. Another perks of being UW student! Instant sign up for this program and I am camping library everyday this quarter!

  6. 1) GREAT idea! 2) Too bad it’s only U-dub . . . too bad it’s only F17. My daughter graduated from a different university in Washington State last May. ;^)

  7. Good Idea?! Well done?! @Lucky, this is the first time I find myself disagreeing with you. I don’t find this as “well done Alaska Airlines” at all.

    This validates everything the loyalty programs have been doing all along – redefining “loyalty.”

    In the good ole days, you could just be loyal, fly often, and earn status. But today, the target is ever moving. Last year it changed to revenue, while diminishing the value of the loyalty programs altogether. Now, its about what school you go to and what your GPA is!

    I guess I just lost my upgrade because Johnny got a 4.0. Perhaps I need to go back to school to get bumped to first?!

    Might sound sweet, nice, and even politically correct on the surface, but give a second thought.
    What will define loyalty tomorrow?

  8. @Jeff Shilling —> It must be difficult to wake up on the wrong side of the bed when one side is up abasing the wall . . . or are you, in fact, just “shilling”?

    This is a BEAUTIFULLY well done (IMHO; YMMV) promotion by Alaska. First of all, “Last year it changed to revenue . . .”? Alaska is one of the only programs left NOT revenue driven, so I’m not sure what you’re on about there. Secondly, “in the gold ole days . . .” airlines competed with each other on service and benefits. Now, all too frequently it seems as if you, the passenger, are serving the airline, and what benefits you provide them — the more services and benefits you provide the airline, in the form of dollars (i.e.: more expensive, and thus more profitable, tickets), the more status you gain . . . but status today is all too often like the proverbial “star” in Kindergarten or “brownie points” — that is, status doesn’t get you $#|+ on most airlines these days. And finally, where did Alaska say ” its (sic) [all] about what school you go to and what your GPA is!” I’ve been out of school for some 40 years and I didn’t even HAVE a GPA (my university had no grades), but I’m MVP Gold with Alaska.

    Not sure what leads you to conclude you’ve lost an upgrade “because Johnny got a 4.0,” but the point of this entire thing is — in the fiercely competitive market that is SEA, with Delta doing all they can to bring Alaska to its knees, Alaska is giving status to students at U-dub who have a high GPA. Good for Alaska! The student gets an extra benefit of having a rock solid GPA and owes Alaska nothing for getting it. Certainly Alaska HOPES that — once the student gets into the habit of flying Alaska (as opposed to [e.g.] Southwest or Delta), they’ll STAY with Alaska even beyond college.

    Whatever marketing person came of with this deserves a bonus!

  9. @Jason Braqndt, I have no comments on your opening question. This really is hardly the place for such. However, if there was any concern that I was being disrespectful to Lucky by disagreeing with him, nothing could be further from the truth. I find his analysis and comments to generally be spot-on, perhaps more so than I would expect from any friend or person I respect.

    Jason, your absolutely correct, this is a great marketing decision for Alaska! The hopes that upper ranking students an UW will start and continue their airline loyalty with Alaska is a true corporate-focused strong and smart decision for Alaska! Charity and politically correct community involvement is a great thing. I actually think its a wonderful decision to reward students! While at it, they should open it to all universities, and perhaps other colleges and institutions. Wait, lets include the teachers too! Let’s throw in police, fire, and first-responders. But don’t forget the military! They more than deserve it!

    My comment about revenue based was focused on the industry as a whole, and so are my comments here. To limit this to Alaska would be a very narrow view (IMO). So many times, one airline will copy or slightly modify an idea or action of another and role out a near similar change. Whether it is change to revenue, a devaluation on awards, making it more difficult to attain status, or redefining loyalty, this is a slippery slope. The correlation of GPA and airline Loyalty I (just my humble and possibly minority view) simply cannot connect the dots. Doesn’t mean I don’t like students or reaching out to select demographics with an act of kindness or generosity. But the loyalty programs, diminished as they may be, have limited benefits, just as you suggest. A sub-set of those benefits the actual elite community must compete for, one of which is the availability and capacity of upgrades. And, while today it has become harder to attain and retain those status levels (by flying alone), I have mixed feelings about simply giving the status away, even if it is a great marketing decision to hopefully help the airline. Just me, as a top tier on two major airlines, this action puts another nail in the coffin…that the definition of airline loyalty will be ever changing. However, I can be happy that despite my flying and spending, my upgrade may be lost a few times to “Johnny,” whether it is because he happened to attend the University that appealed to the marketing geniuses at Alaska (or another airline). Or because whatever airline deemed Johnny to be as eligible or more eligible than I. The fact that this isolated case is just Alaska and UW is beside the point. Who will it be next? And, what will be the motive and action required to attain status next year? It might not involve flying at all. I don’t pretend to answer the question, but I pose, “is this acceptable?”

  10. @Jeff, the question of whether this is acceptable depends, I should think, upon one’s specific point-of-view. For the airline, of course, it’s perfectly acceptable because they are the ones controlling the status. For us mere mortals, it’s a different question.

    Now, I’m 63 and retired in all but name; working in the wine trade for 40+ years did require for some travel, both domestic and international, but such were my jobs that an overwhelming majority of my travel over the years was for personal, not business, reasons. As such, I do *not* hold elite status in two major airlines — indeed I only have status with one airline, Virgin America, where I am Elevate Gold based on the number of flight segments flownĀ¹. This year, that mean I was MVP Gold with Alaska as well, but it remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to keep MVP Gold status for 2018 (despite re-qualifying with VS, again based on segments)Ā². For 2019, it’s a given: I will NOT be MVPGold, and I may not even be MVP, as the prospect of my flying 30x on AS next yer is somewhat dubious. Good-bye status . . . I’ll miss you, but c’est la vie.

    Were I “invested” with seeking to get and/or maintain status with one or more of the three legacy carriers, I think I would have surrendered by now. They are seemingly united (no pun intended) in their efforts to screw their elites with endless devaluations and diminishing benefits.

    Tangentially to all this is hotel status, which bears a mention for one reason — I earn status in one program and it’s given to me “free” by another (as AS is giving status to UW students). That is, I meet the minimum stay requirements to be SPG Gold, but I get “instant” Gold status with Hilton merely by having a credit card (I *do* pay the AF). Is that fair? Well, I’m fine with that; someone else may wince at the thought of staying x number of nights (or flying x number of miles and/or spending x amount of money) to achieve the same level of status, but for better or worse, that’s how the “game is played.”

    Ā¹ VX awards status one of two ways, through the number of flight segments OR through Status Points, which are revenue-based. I’ve always qualified on segments. Elevate Silver = 15; Gold = 30.

    Ā² I know that I *won’t* in 2019, if only because AS thresholds are doubled: MVP = 30; MVP Gold = 60; and top-tier MVP Gold 75k = 90 flights in a calendar year. I took 34 flights on VX in 2016, and will have 31 for the end of this year. No way I’ll ever get close to 60 flights/year to keep MVP Gold in the future.

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