|Note: California-based Mileage Plan members who initiate an MVP Gold 75K status challenge between March 9-20, 2023, can receive an Alaska Lounge membership for their 90-day status challenge period. I’ve added a section below to reflect this unique opportunity.|
It’s common for airlines to offer some sort of status challenge or status match program, in order to lure frequent flyers who are loyal to competing airlines, but are considering a switch. In the United States, most major airlines offer some sort of a status match challenge opportunity, including American, Delta, Southwest, and United. In this post I wanted to take a look at the program offered by Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Milage Plan status match as of March 2023
Alaska Mileage Plan has a published status match challenge program. With this program, you can have your status matched from a competing airline for a period of 90 days, and then you can have your status extended by flying a certain amount on Alaska Airlines within that period.
Alaska offers status match challenges for MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K status (though there’s no status match challenge for the MVP Gold 100K tier).
What status will Alaska match?
Alaska Mileage Plan will match status with any of the following major frequent flyer programs:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- American AAdvantage
- Delta SkyMiles
- Frontier Miles
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
As you can see, the major airlines in the markets that Alaska Airlines serves are covered by this status match challenge. Elite tiers map over as you’d expect, all the way up to MVP Gold 75K.
Once you’ve successfully enrolled in an Alaska Mileage Plan status match challenge, your status will be valid for 90 days, and then you can maintain your status with further qualifying activity.
How do you maintain Alaska status?
You can maintain your status with Alaska Airlines beyond the 90 day period based on how much you fly with the airline. Specifically, you can maintain the status by flying the following number of miles on Alaska Airlines:
- Maintain MVP status by flying 5,000 miles
- Maintain MVP Gold status by flying 10,000 miles
- Maintain MVP Gold 75K status by flying 20,000 miles
Only flights on Alaska Airlines qualify toward this requirement, and this is truly based on revenue “butt-in-seat” miles, and not based on elite miles (in other words, you’d still need to fly this number of miles in paid first class).
For context, these status requirements are roughly one-quarter of the standard annual elite requirements, so that makes sense when you consider that you have about one-quarter of a year to complete the flying requirements.
How long is matched Alaska status valid for?
If you successfully complete an Alaska status challenge, how long is the status valid for?
- If a status challenge is initiated between January 1 and June 30 of a year, you only maintain your status through the end of that calendar year
- If a status challenge is initiated between July 1 and December 31 of a year, you maintain your status through the end of the following calendar year
In other words, you’ll maximize the value of an Alaska Airlines status challenge if you initiate it in July or later, since your status will potentially be valid for up to 18 months.
How do you request an Alaska status match?
You can request an Alaska status challenge directly on this webpage. You’ll need to share which status you’re trying to match, along with a screenshot of your online account with that program showing your name, status, and how many miles you flew with that airline the prior year.
A few more important things to note about Alaska status challenges:
- Status match challenges are only offered “once in a lifetime,” so you can’t repeat this if you’ve already taken advantage of it
- Status match challenges 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
- Status match challenges are only available to residents of the United States and Canada
- Allow up to four weeks for verification of your status match challenge request and approval
- The 50,000 bonus miles usually offered as part of qualifying for MVP Gold 75K status aren’t included as part of the status challenge; you earn that only when you qualify “the hard way”
- Gold Guest Upgrades, lounge day passes, and MVP status nominations, will only be available after the status challenge has successfully been completed
What are the benefits of Alaska elite status?
What are Alaska Mileage Plan status perks like?
Some of the most popular benefits of Alaska MVP status include:
- Complimentary upgrades to first class up to 48 hours before departure
- Complimentary upgrades to Premium Class (extra legroom economy) up to 48 hours before departure
- Priority check-in, security, and boarding
- Two complimentary checked bags
- A 50% mileage bonus
Some of the most popular benefits of Alaska MVP Gold status include:
- Complimentary upgrades to first class up to 72 hours before departure, including for companions
- Complimentary upgrades to Premium Class up to 72 hours before departure, including for companions
- Priority check-in, boarding, and security
- Two complimentary checked bags
- A 100% mileage bonus
- oneworld Sapphire status
Some of the most popular benefits of Alaska MVP Gold 75K status include:
- Complimentary upgrades to first class up to 120 hours before departure, including for companions
- Complimentary upgrades to Premium Class at time of booking, including for companions
- Priority check-in, boarding, and security
- Three complimentary checked bags
- A 125% mileage bonus
- A one-way American Airlines international upgrade certificate
- oneworld Emerald status
Upgrades are arguably the most valuable benefit, and those are prioritized by status. The higher your status, the better the odds of those clearing. While it’s route dependent, it’s important to be realistic, as you’re much more likely to clear as an MVP Gold 75K member than an MVP member, for example.
Limited-time promo for California-based members
From March 9-20, 2023, California-based Mileage Plan members who are matching to MVP Gold 75K status will receive an Alaska Lounge membership that’s valid for the 90-day challenge period. This perk should apply automatically if you initiate a 75K status match with an account that has an address in California.
It’s a bit ironic that Alaska Airlines has just tightened lounge access rules, and is now giving away lounge access as part of a status challenge.
Is an Alaska status challenge worth it?
Alaska Mileage Plan is a great frequent flyer program, as it’s the only major program in the United States to still award miles based on distance flown rather than dollars spent. On top of that, with Alaska Airlines now being a member of oneworld, there are more perks from this status when traveling on other airlines. On top of that, Alaska elite members can even receive reciprocal upgrades on American.
Being loyal to Alaska Airlines could make a lot of sense, though before you request a status challenge, just remember that it’s “once in a lifetime.” So you’ll want to be strategic about when you apply for this, since you can’t just take part in a status match challenge every few years. I’d also recommend generally applying in the second half of the year, so that you can take advantage of status perks for the longest time possible.
Alaska Airlines offers a lucrative status match challenge program, whereby you can receive status for a period of 90 days, and can then extend that status based on flying a certain number of miles on Alaska within that period. The biggest catch is that a status match challenge is only available to each member once, so you’ll want to save it for when you can really use it.
Have any OMAAT readers taken part in an Alaska status challenge? If so, what was your experience like?
One of the airlines not on your list is Westjet. It surprises me that Alaska doesn't status match against Westjet as they have a much more impact and competition against Alaska out west compared to Air Canada. I was in Peurto Vallarta the other day and there was 6 Westjet planes and only 1 Alaska at the time. And it got me thinking that Westjet has really stolen some of Alaska's Canadian customers in many...
One of the airlines not on your list is Westjet. It surprises me that Alaska doesn't status match against Westjet as they have a much more impact and competition against Alaska out west compared to Air Canada. I was in Peurto Vallarta the other day and there was 6 Westjet planes and only 1 Alaska at the time. And it got me thinking that Westjet has really stolen some of Alaska's Canadian customers in many markets. I look at Victoria where there once was 6 daily flights now 1 daily, Kelowna similar and Vancouver who used to have flights to Anchorage, SFO, Los Angeles and multiple Portland. Also lost out west is Calgary, Edmonton etc
Partner flights do count for mileage between January 13 and April 13. From Alaska’s FAQ - “ Do partner flights count toward the Fast Track?
Both partner and Alaska base miles flown count toward the Fast Track (excluding Ravn and Mokulele flights, which do not count toward status). However, you can’t qualify based on partner flights alone. A minimum of two segments must be on Alaska marketed and operated flights.”
I'm EXP with American through a mix of paid flights, credit card spend, shopping portals, and just miscellaneous. How would that affect a status match?
During a status challenge: can you use an Alaska Visa credit card companion certificate (either as primary main fare or the discounted companion) and still count as a paid revenue fare for the purposes of meeting the challenge?