Alaska Elites Now Get American Upgrade Certificates

Alaska Elites Now Get American Upgrade Certificates

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Not only has Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance, but American Airlines and Alaska Airlines also have a close new partnership, which includes complimentary reciprocal upgrades on select flights.

Higher tier Alaska Mileage Plan elite members are also getting international upgrade certificates for travel on American, and we’re finally now seeing that functionality rolled out.

Alaska MVP Gold 75K & 100K members get international American upgrades

New as of 2022 (for those who qualified for elite status in 2021), Alaska Mileage Plan elite members are getting international upgrade certificates on American:

  • MVP Gold 75K members get one one-way international American upgrade certificate
  • MVP Gold 100K members get two one-way international American upgrade certificates

This is based on the status that was qualified for in 2021. Alaska had been promising that this would be rolled out as of mid-2022, and sure enough eligible elite members should have just received an email with upgrade codes.

Note that this is only for members who meet the published qualification criteria for an eligible tier, and those who earned status via nomination, a status match promotion, or special offer, aren’t eligible.

In early 2021, select Alaska elites were also granted American international upgrades, though these came with more restrictions, including restrictions on eligible routes. These new certificates offer a lot more flexibility.

Alaska elites now get international upgrades on American

How can Alaska elites use American international upgrades?

While they’re named differently, for all practical purposes Alaska Mileage Plan elite members are being given systemwide upgrades. How do you go about redeeming these?

  • These need to be redeemed by phone with American Airlines, by sharing your unique upgrade code
  • Each upgrade can be used for a one-way journey with a maximum of three segments
  • Upgrades need to be requested by December 31, 2022; travel doesn’t need to be completed by then, but rather the upgrade just needs to be confirmed by then
  • Upgrades are subjected to capacity controls, and availability is the same as it would be for American’s confirmed upgrades; if an upgrade doesn’t clear immediately, it will be waitlisted
  • Flights must be marketed and operated by American Airlines, and codeshare flights aren’t eligible
  • Upgrades are not eligible on basic economy tickets or award tickets
  • You can use the upgrades from economy or premium economy to business class, or from business class to first class

So while you can maximize these upgrade certificates by using them for international flights, you could also use them for a domestic flight if you’d like.

Confirm an American upgrade with these certificates

The irony of Alaska elites getting international American upgrades

When the enhanced cooperation between American and Alaska was launched, the logic made a lot of sense:

  • American planned to build up an international long haul gateway in Seattle, and Alaska would provide the regional feed for those flights; American announced plans to fly from Seattle to Bangalore, London, and Shanghai, with more routes to come
  • American had a huge long haul presence in Los Angeles, and Alaska also has a big presence there, so Alaska could provide significant feed for those long haul flights

The concept of strongly incentivizing Alaska flyers to take long haul American flights made sense, especially with Delta also being strong in Seattle.

However, a lot has changed since then:

  • American has suspended or scrapped all of its long haul flights out of Seattle, at least for now
  • American has cut most long haul routes out of Los Angeles, so the airline really isn’t global out of that airport anymore
  • At this point American is all about its JetBlue partnership, and expanding out of New York

It just shows you how quickly strategy can change in the airline industry.

You’d think JetBlue elites would now get upgrades on American

Bottom line

Eligible Alaska Mileage Plan elite members who earned status in 2021 should have finally received an email with codes for American Airlines long haul upgrade certificates. These work similarly to American systemwide upgrades, so that’s a nice perk.

However, with American having given up on its Seattle base for now, and greatly scaling back long haul international flights, Alaska elites will have to travel out of their way to use these.

To Alaska elites, do you plan on using your American upgrade certificates?

Conversations (15)
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  1. Kim Guest

    I called AA for the upgrade with my code. They had no idea what I was talking about and said they couldn’t help me. They even suggested the email I received was a scam.

  2. James S Guest

    Let me fix the headline for you:
    "Alaska Airlines elites now eligible to be placed on AA systemwide upgrade waitlist"

    I'm old enough to remember when SWUs could be redeemed at booking, with a phone call, 95% of the time. The benefit to the elite was the upgrade AND the certainty that it could be used.

  3. Michael S Ryan Guest

    I called today to use one JFK-SCL and one SCL-MIA. The woman was very nice but my request was new to her. As of now I am waitlisted for an upgrade on both flights for July.

  4. Daniel Guest

    They can get these certificates and then have bugs in the salad

  5. digital_notmad Member

    Sure would be nice if they could get companion upgrades to work for AA elites flying AS...

    1. Dempseyzdad Member

      I'm not understanding the details as described. Alaska "elite" are being given free upgrades on AA without having to spend miles? I don't even get that as a PlatPro *ON* AA.

    2. John Roddy New Member

      Hmm here are my thoughts. Either:

      1. You are not PlatPro *ON* AA.
      2. You are and have no idea what the benefits are.
      3. You qualified for the first time earlier this year and have not flown 30 eligible segments.

    3. S_LEE New Member

      I'm PlatPro on AA and I've flown Alaska over 20 times this year. I've never been upgraded on AS flight and have never been on the upgrade standby list. I wonder if Alaska ever upgrades AA elites.

    4. Thomas Guest

      A couple of comments:

      First, something's up - you should be making the upgrade list.

      I'm an AS 75k, and upgrades on any longer flight out of SEA are tough right now. Upgrades are prioritized by fare code - so if you buy cheap seats (like I do) you're not likely to get an upgrade. And as a PlatPro, you're behind AS 100k/75k members and ExPlats in the upgrade order.

    5. Manonvacation Guest

      They definitely do, and as a Gold 75k flyer on AS I have been "bumped" by them multiple times and not received an upgrade. Conversely, flying on AA my Emerald Elite status it puts me on the bottom on the upgrade list after AA Gold status ! So I'm not happy about the upgrade benefits on AA this far.

    6. Jason Brandt Lewis Guest

      I'm AS MVP. Period. NOT MVP Gold, and certainly not MVP Gold 75K. Even I get upgraded to First upon occasion. I agree with Thomas; something doesn't add up.

    7. Jef Guest

      Platinum Pro have the choice to select SWU certs with their elite rewards.

    8. digital_notmad Member

      @Thomas - not sure if that was directed at me or Dempseyzdad, but I'm talking about complimentary domestic upgrades (not instrument upgrades) for myself and a companion. AA honors companion upgrades for AS elites, but the reverse is still not true, which has been very frustrating (I've had to pass up a number of available upgrades in order to sit with my wife, who was on the same itin and would have been eligible to...

      @Thomas - not sure if that was directed at me or Dempseyzdad, but I'm talking about complimentary domestic upgrades (not instrument upgrades) for myself and a companion. AA honors companion upgrades for AS elites, but the reverse is still not true, which has been very frustrating (I've had to pass up a number of available upgrades in order to sit with my wife, who was on the same itin and would have been eligible to get the upgrade if the situation were reversed and I were an AS elite traveling with her on AA).

  6. Alex S. Guest

    In AA's defense it's hard to focus on Asia Pacific when it's mostly still closed

  7. Chase Guest

    In my snarkiest [AA Executive Platinum] voice: Yeah, good luck using those!

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John Roddy New Member

Hmm here are my thoughts. Either: 1. You are not PlatPro *ON* AA. 2. You are and have no idea what the benefits are. 3. You qualified for the first time earlier this year and have not flown 30 eligible segments.

3
Thomas Guest

A couple of comments: First, something's up - you should be making the upgrade list. I'm an AS 75k, and upgrades on any longer flight out of SEA are tough right now. Upgrades are prioritized by fare code - so if you buy cheap seats (like I do) you're not likely to get an upgrade. And as a PlatPro, you're behind AS 100k/75k members and ExPlats in the upgrade order.

2
Alex S. Guest

In AA's defense it's hard to focus on Asia Pacific when it's mostly still closed

2
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