A few weeks ago, Alaska Mileage Plan announced some program changes for 2024. With it now being the new year, I wanted to recap the details of these changes, as people start thinking about their travel plans and elite status goals for the year. For the most part, I’d say these updates are quite positive. This follows the recently announced changes to Mileage Plan award redemptions, which will be implemented in March 2024.
In this post:
Alaska Mileage Plan simplifies earning elite status
For the 2024 program year, Alaska Mileage Plan status can exclusively be earned based on how many elite qualifying miles (EQMs) you accrue, with no change to those thresholds. Specifically:
- MVP status requires 20,000 EQMs
- MVP Gold status requires 40,000 EQMs
- MVP Gold 75K status requires 75,000 EQMs
- MVP Gold 100K status requires 100,000 EQMs
You earn EQMs at the same rate as before, though two major things have changed as of 2024:
- You’re no longer able to qualify for Mileage Plan status based on the number of segments flown; previously this required anywhere from 30 segments for MVP status, to 140 segments for MVP Gold 100K status
- You no longer have to fly a minimum number of segments on Alaska to earn Mileage Plan status, so you’re able to earn Mileage Plan status purely based on travel on partner airlines, if you want to
Objectively I think this makes earning elite status easier for most, especially those who frequently fly with partner airlines. I am a bit puzzled about why Alaska would eliminate the ability to qualify based on segments, though, since I tend to think that’s the more difficult way to earn status (I certainly feel bad for people flying that many segments, given all the things that can go wrong).
Alaska Mileage Plan counts credit card spending toward elite status
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a trend whereby airlines have increasingly counted credit card spending toward elite status (just look at American’s Loyalty Points program). In 2023, Alaska dabbled with counting credit card spending toward elite status, and the airline is taking that a step further in 2024.
- 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, which you’d unlock after $50,000 of eligible credit card spending
Alaska Mileage Plan adds limited time rollover miles
Exclusively for Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K members, the program is rolling over any EQMs beyond 100,000 from 2023 toward the 2024 program year. This is a one-time offer, and it’s stated that there are no plans to offer this in the future. So if you ended 2023 with 200,000 EQMs, you’d already requalify for MVP Gold 100K for 2024 as well.
Alaska Mileage Plan introducing new choice rewards
While details are limited as of now, Alaska Mileage Plan is promising that new choice rewards will be introduced later in 2024. This is intended to allow members to pick the benefits that matter most to them, like bonus miles, status accelerators, experiences, day-of-travel perks, and more.
For example, MVP Gold 100K members currently 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.
It’s my understanding that we’ll see these opportunities rolled out at much lower thresholds than before. I’ll reserve my judgment until we see the details of what that looks like. More choices are good, but only if it doesn’t lead to a significant reduction in the richness of the options.
Alaska Mileage Plan reducing elite mileage bonuses in 2025
Don’t let the headline fool you, this probably won’t be as bad as it sounds. Starting in the 2025 program year, members of three of four of Alaska’s elite tiers will earn significantly smaller mileage bonuses, at least on an automatic basis:
- MVP members will have their elite mileage bonus reduced from 50% to 25%
- MVP Gold members will have their elite mileage bonus reduced from 100% to 50%
- MVP Gold 75K members will have their elite mileage bonus reduced from 125% to 100%
- MVP Gold 100K members will maintain their 150% elite mileage bonus
The good news is that with Alaska’s new choice rewards, there will reportedly be options to select the difference in elite bonus miles percentage as one of the perks. In other words, you can still maintain the same elite bonus miles, but it’ll just come at an opportunity cost. That sounds totally fair to me, as it should give members more flexibility.
My take on these Alaska Mileage Plan changes
After the recently announced Delta SkyMiles changes, I think we’re all a bit skeptical when we see an airline loyalty program announce elite status changes. With that in mind, I’d say that this announcement from Alaska Mileage Plan is pretty positive on balance.
I think by most accounts, earning elite status in 2024 is getting easier. You’re able to earn elite status exclusively through travel on partner airlines, you’re able to earn more elite qualification through credit card spending, and MVP Gold 100K members get rollover EQMs from 2023. The only negative change is that you’re no longer able to earn status based on segments, but that has long been the harder way to earn status anyway.
The reduction in elite bonuses in 2025 sounds disappointing on the surface, though members will still have the option of earning the current amounts. It’ll just come at the opportunity cost of some new perks that will be announced in the future. I appreciate the amount of advance notice being given here, even if this isn’t a negative change.
I’m curious to see what other Mileage Plan changes come in 2025. I have to imagine that Alaska will increasingly want to reward credit card spending, given how lucrative that is for airlines. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cap of only being able to earn 20,000 EQMs with credit card spending in 2024 is just a test.
Alaska Mileage Plan has implemented some significant program changes for 2024. Earning status has been simplified, and you now earn status exclusively based on how many EQMs you rack up, with segments no longer being considered. On top of that, credit card spending now counts toward status in a meaningful way.
It’s nice to see a program continue to focus on offering value for members, and I’d say most Mileage Plan members should be happy about these changes.
What do you make of these Alaska Mileage Plan changes?