Alaska’s Mileage Plan status match policy gets even less generous…

I’m seriously considering moving to Seattle, and as an American flyer that inevitably means one thing — switching at least some business to Alaska Airlines. They do a ton of code sharing and many American itineraries out of Seattle involve travel on Alaska, so I’m all for it. While Alaska and American do offer some reciprocal elite benefits, upgrades aren’t among them, so I was planning on status matching to Alaska. It’s my goal to requalify for MVP Gold with them, which would take a reasonable 40,000 miles per year of travel on Alaska. My plan is to credit my Alaska segments to Alaska and my American segments to American, even if they’re on the same itinerary, to maximize elite benefits in both cases.

So it was my plan to status match to Alaska this year. Most airlines have a status match program whereby you can match status from another program, which is a great way to win over someone’s business. In most cases if you status match in the second half of the year, your status is good for the remainder of the year and the entire following year. After all, the logic is that you can’t requalify for status in just a couple of months, so they want to give you the full year to experience the status and requalify.

Earlier in the year American offered status matches to United 1Ks, which seemed smart given their financial situation. What they did which was really smart, in my opinion, is later tell the matched 1Ks that they needed to fly just 55,000 miles to requalify. After all, the goal of status matching is to win someone’s long term business, so pro-rating the required flying makes perfect sense to me.

And then there’s Alaska. Their policy for years has been that any status match before October 1 was valid just for the remainder of the year, and not for the following year. That’s plain dumb business, in my opinion. If you’re going to status match someone to a tier that requires 40,000 miles per year of flying, you can’t possibly expect them to requalify for that status in a period of three months. Well, their match policy got even less generous, because as of this year they’re only matching for the entire following year as of November 1. So if you were to status match on October 29 they’d expect you to fly the full 40,000 miles in two months.

Anyway, at the end of the day a status match is a privilege and not a right, so they’re perfectly within their rights to do that. I’ll simply be avoiding them till November 1 on routes where I have the option to book with Alaska or another carrier.

Filed Under: Alaska
  1. You won’t regret moving to Seattle, yes it rains but life goes on, it is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, there is something special and relaxing about been in a city and still having nature all around you. Everyone is really relaxed and green. I one day I’m hoping I will be able to move there.

  2. It doesn’t really rain that much in Seattle. It’s just always cloudy, and that keeps things from drying out. Plus when the sun does appear in the summer, you’ve been deprived for so long that even 72 degrees and partly cloudy seems amazing šŸ˜‰

    Given that I’m currently in hot and humid Singapore, I’m really missing the Seattle weather.

  3. You might want to reconsider Portland on your list. It has a very livable downtown area – river instead of Sound. Better weather than Seattle. No sales tax. Great public transportation including light rail access to the airport. Much easier access to airport than getting to Seatac. Airport is like a satellite hub to Seatac for Alaska. Regarding Alaska airlines, I’ve been very disappointed with them over the last couple of years. The charges now charge fees for every considerable thing and the have been devaluing their mileage program and credit card perks – loss of 1st class travel on companion fair and reduced points bonuses. Things to consider…

  4. I’m originally from Seattle… it’s a great choice if you do decide to move there. I miss it and want to move back. Yes it is cloudy most of the year but it’s never too hot and never too cold. You have one of the greatest landscapes in all of the US in my opinion- with the mountains all all sides.

  5. Another vote for Seattle – once your living in the northwest you’ll understand its attraction!
    However, have to agree with others here – AS has really gone downhill lately with all the devaluations. Management is on a cost cutting drive and it is causing the airline to lose its appeal for many. The staff are always great though, but their Boardroom in Seattle is really pathetic and tattered looking – very poor for a main hub lounge!

  6. From seattle originally and is MUCH better than pdx, i would never consider pdx over seattle. Look at the downtown/capitol hill/east lake neighborhoods. You’ll probably really like them all. Also SEA is on the light rail, so easy connections to/from the Seattle. Furthermore the scene in Seattle will be perfect for you!

    Don’t worry to much about the AS boardroom, they a building a new one that will be open in 2014:

    Also find it odd they they didn’t match you through next year. I did a status match with them in 2009 and they matched me for all of 2009 and 2010 to GOLD MVP, which at their time was their highest tier. Alaska is awesome for the award program and west coast travel. Free upgrades when I was gold cleared about 99% of the time. Only ever missed it once, and my companion was upgraded with me about 80% of the time.

    Finally when are you looking to move? I have a 1 bedroom top of the line condo for rent come Jan 1 in Eastlake. No lake view, but across the street from the lake.

  7. As a SF Bay Area native who moved to Seattle 6yrs ago, I think there’s a greater appreciation for sunny days here. When the sun comes out, it seems as if the entire city comes out to play. As for those numerous overcast days, that’s what the coffee’s for, right? =)

  8. To Adrian: Seatac airport is connected via light rail all the way to downtown Seattle. For only $2.75 one way, it’s a super convenient and affordable way to get to the airport. And regarding the fees that AS charges, all airlines do the same.

    The AS mileage plan is still superior than most, with change/cancellation fees waived at the mid-tier MVP Gold level and 100% bonus miles.

  9. If you’re going to bother with Alaska status, you should go for 75k and get the bonus miles that come with qualification

  10. @ james — Hah, that appears to be the Coke address?

    @ gba — On one hand I’m tempted to, but on the other hand I just don’t see myself flying 75K on Alaska. Their Seattle Board Room is WAY over crowded, their first class seats rival those found on regional airlines, and their meal service seems to be the worst in the industry. Add that to the fact that flying 75K on Alaska is the probably the equivalent of flying double that on another carrier (given the lack of connections and longhaul flights), and it’s definitely a stretch.

    Then again, the 50K bonus miles is essentially the equivalent of earning ~270% RDMs on all flights…

  11. @Lucky, where did you find their new policy “as of this year theyā€™re only matching for the entire following year as of November 1”? I was planning to do a status match with Alaska on Oct 1st this year, if the new policy is true I will have to wait..

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