While Alaska Airlines isn’t one of the “big three” US airlines, the Seattle-based carrier has quite a robust loyalty program, which many people are loyal to. In particular, Alaska Mileage Plan is the only major US frequent flyer program that still awards miles based on how far you fly rather than how much you spend.
In this post I wanted to take a look at Alaska MVP Gold 100K status for 2024, especially in light of the (minor) program changes that have been rolled out. MVP Gold 100K is Alaska’s top-tier elite status, and might just be the best published elite tier in the United States. How do you earn MVP Gold 100K status, what are the perks, and is it worth it? In separate posts I’ll cover MVP Gold 75K, MVP Gold, and MVP status.
In this post:
How to earn Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K status
Alaska Mileage Plan elite status can be earned exclusively based on how many elite qualifying miles (EQMs) you rack up in a year. Status is no longer based on how many segments you fly, and there’s no requirement for any amount of flying to be on Alaska (rather than partner airlines). Here are the requirements for the four Mileage Plan elite tiers for 2024, from the lowest to the highest tier:
- Mileage Plan MVP status requires 20,000 elite qualifying miles
- Mileage Plan MVP Gold status requires 40,000 elite qualifying miles
- Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K status requires 75,000 elite qualifying miles
- Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K status requires 100,000 elite qualifying miles
One of the things that makes Mileage Plan great is that you can not only rack up elite miles on Alaska and its oneworld partners, but also on other partner airlines, ranging from Air Tahiti Nui, to Condor, to Icelandair, to Singapore Airlines, opening up lots of opportunities to earn status by flying with other airlines.
- You earn 4,000 EQMs for every $10,000 spent on an Alaska credit card
- Mileage Plan members can earn at most 20,000 EQMs per year this way, which you’d unlock after $50,000 of eligible credit card spending
Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K status benefits
Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K status comes with a variety of perks, ranging from complimentary upgrades, to oneworld elite status, to Choice Benefits, to extra legroom seating. The sheer number of perks is more or less in a league of its own. Let’s go over the details of each of these perks, roughly in the order that I value them.
Complimentary first class upgrades
MVP Gold 100K members receive unlimited complimentary space available upgrades on all Alaska Airlines flights. These upgrades are even valid for one companion on the same reservation. Complimentary elite upgrades can start clearing up to 120 hours before departure, and MVP Gold 100K members have priority over other elite tiers.
Within each elite tier, the tie-breaker to scoring an upgrade is what fare class you’ve booked, with the higher fare classes getting priority for upgrades. The only other restriction is that if you’re traveling on a Saver fare, you’re only eligible for a same-day upgrade, and will be notified of whether you’ve cleared within two hours of departure.
How often should you expect upgrades to clear as an MVP Gold 100K member? It really depends on the routes you fly, the days of the week you fly, what kind of fares you book, etc. Nowadays a lot more people are paying for first class than several years ago, so don’t expect that upgrades will always clear. However, I’d expect upgrades to clear a majority of the time as an MVP Gold 100K member.
oneworld Emerald status (including lounge access)
MVP Gold 100K status automatically gets you oneworld Emerald status, which I’d consider to be the most valuable alliance-wide status out there. This offers various benefits when traveling on any of the over dozen oneworld airlines, including priority check-in, priority boarding, and more.
As a oneworld Emerald member you’ll also get access to most oneworld first & business class lounges when traveling on long haul international flights. This includes some amazing lounges, including everything from American Flagship Lounges, to the Qantas First Lounge LAX.
Mileage Plan Choice Benefits
Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K members have the option of selecting a Choice Benefit, with a few different options. These include 50,000 bonus Mileage Plan miles, an Alaska Lounge+ membership, the ability to gift MVP Gold status to someone else, or complimentary Wi-Fi every time you fly with Alaska.
These are some pretty substantial perks, each of which I’d value at $500+ annually. This creates quite an incremental incentive to qualify for MVP Gold 100K status. Mileage Plan intends to refresh these rewards later in 2024 with more options, though further details about that haven’t yet been revealed.
50,000 Alaska Mileage Plan bonus miles
While this isn’t specifically a benefit of MVP Gold 100K status, it’s an important thing to keep in mind in terms of the overall value proposition of going for the status. When you pass MVP Gold 75K status (which you’d do every year if earning 100K status), you receive a bonus of 50,000 Alaska miles.
This is separate from the MVP Gold 100K Choice Benefits. You can also select the 50,000 Alaska miles as a perk when qualifying for MVP Gold 100K status, in which case you’d earn a total of 100,000 Alaska bonus miles.
Complimentary Premium Class seating
Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K members receive complimentary Premium Class seating for them and up to one companion on the same reservation at the time of booking, subject to availability. The only exception is that if you’re on a Saver fare (Alaska’s basic economy), you’re only eligible to assign a Premium Class seat on the day of departure.
Premium Class is Alaska’s extra legroom economy seating, typically in the front of the economy cabin and at exit rows, and it generally offers several extra inches of legroom. Furthermore, Premium Class offers complimentary alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine, and cocktails.
150% status mileage bonus
Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K members receive a massive 150% mileage bonus on flights, so miles really add up. In other words, if a flight covers a distance of 1,000 miles and you booked a fare that earns 100% elite miles, you’d end up earning 2,500 miles for the flight. If you find a low enough fare with Alaska, mileage running may just still be a thing with the airline.
Alaska first class guest upgrades
While MVP Gold 100K members receive unlimited complimentary upgrades on Alaska, they also receive four guest upgrades per year. These can be used to confirm an upgrade on an eligible fare for any Alaska flight at the time of booking, subject to upgrade space being available. This can be used either for the MVP Gold 100K member, or for a friend or family member, as these can be transfered to others.
Alaska isn’t great about making confirmable upgrade seats available in advance, but when you can find a use for these, it’s great.
American Airlines upgrade certificates
Alaska and American have a partnership, and as part of that, MVP Gold 100K members receive two complimentary confirmed American upgrades per year. Think of these as being like American systemwide upgrades, except with a different name. These can come in handy to confirm an upgrade, whether it’s a domestic or international flight.
Priority check-in, security, and boarding
Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K members receive a variety of priority services at the airport, including:
- Priority check-in, with first class
- Priority security screening
- Priority boarding, with first class
Generally I think priority boarding is the most valuable of those benefits. Most people check-in online, and nowadays TSA PreCheck and CLEAR will typically save you the most time at security, rather than a priority security line.
Same day flight changes & priority standby
Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K members can make complimentary same day flight changes to another flight in the same market. There are capacity controls to this, so don’t expect that it will always be possible, even if there are seats available.
Beyond that, MVP Gold 100K members receive priority standby, as the standby list is prioritized based on elite status. As an MVP Gold 100K member, you should typically be near the top of the standby list.
Three complimentary checked bags
Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K members can check three bags free of charge on all itineraries. This applies to the member and any companion traveling on the same reservation. Checking bags with Alaska Airlines is pretty painless, thanks to the carrier’s 20-minute baggage guarantee.
With this, you’re promised that your bag will arrive within 20 minutes of your arrival, or you can claim 2,500 bonus Alaska miles or a $25 Alaska discount voucher.
Complimentary drink & meal in economy
To make the travel experience a bit more pleasant when upgrades don’t clear, MVP Gold 100K members receive some free drinks and nibbles when traveling in economy. As mentioned above, Premium Class passengers get unlimited free alcoholic drinks, so that’s not necessarily going to be an incremental benefit. So, how does this work?
- Receive a complimentary premium beverage or chocolate on most flights of over 350 miles
- On flights of over 790 miles, receive a free snack, or you can even pre-order a fresh meal for free, which could include a fruit & cheese platter, a protein platter, a sandwich, a salad, or a picnic pack
Four Alaska Lounge day passes
Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K members receive four lounge day passes per year, which will be electronically deposited in your Mileage Plan account. These can either be used for yourself, or shared with friends and family.
Also keep in mind that you can select an Alaska Lounge+ membership as your Choice Benefits selection, if you want a full membership. Regardless, this can come in handy for others.
Reciprocal elite perks on American
In addition to the two international upgrades you receive on American, there’s also a larger reciprocal upgrade agreement between Alaska and American. Specifically, you can potentially be eligible for first class upgrades on American, as well as Main Cabin Extra seating. The value of this obviously depends based on how much you fly with American.
Is Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K status worth it?
Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K status is incredibly valuable, and I’d say that’s even more the case with Alaska Airlines having joined oneworld.
For one, the mileage earning opportunities are huge — you receive a 150% mileage bonus, you receive 50,000 bonus miles for earning MVP Gold 75K, and you then can select a Choice Benefits perk when earning MVP Gold 100K (potentially getting you another 50,000 miles).
On top of that, the upgrade perks are very strong. You get unlimited space available upgrades, four guest upgrades per year, and two American systemwide upgrades. Furthermore, you receive reciprocal upgrades on American, which can also come in handy.
The oneworld Emerald recognition you’ll receive when flying with partner airlines is great as well.
I think the only real catch with MVP Gold 100K status is that Alaska is obviously a much smaller airline than the “big three” US carriers, so this requires a lot of flying. Fortunately Alaska has lots of partner airlines, making miles easy to rack up. However, you’ll generally find that you get stronger perks when you’re actually flying with the airline you have status with.
I think MVP Gold 100K status is amazing if you fly Alaska frequently. Meanwhile if you only fly with the airline a small percentage of the time and otherwise credit partner flights to Mileage Plan, it might not necessarily be the best option, and as rewarding.
Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K status is incredibly valuable. Personally I’d argue it’s the all around most rewarding published elite tier you’ll find in the United States. The catch is that Alaska isn’t as big of an airline as the US global carriers, so it takes some work to be loyal to the airline.
If you do fly Alaska frequently, MVP Gold 100K is exceptionally rewarding, from the upgrades, to the bonus miles, to the oneworld Emerald perks.
If you’re an Alaska MVP Gold 100K member, what has your experience been?