Alaska Mileage Plan Elite Status Changes 2024

Alaska Mileage Plan Elite Status Changes 2024

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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.

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:

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).

Earn elite status from travel on partner airlines

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.

For 2024, Mileage Plan members have the opportunity to earn EQMs for spending on the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card (review) or Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card (review):

  • 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
Earn elite status with 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.

Expect new choice rewards to be introduced later in 2024

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.

Elite mileage bonuses will be reduced in 2025

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.

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (30)
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  1. Brandon Guest

    Absolutely terrible decision for us business travelers in the NW that rely on segments to achieve status. Alaska Airlines is going downhill. Such a shame and switching to Delta.

  2. Dave Guest

    This article is clearly written by someone who doesn't live in the Northwest or Alaska where it takes 2-3 "segments" to get to and from your destination.

  3. Henry Guest

    It's terrible for us Alaskans. You know, where the airline started. It's 1,440 miles to Seattle from Anchorage. So what do they do? The change in the chart has a higher rate at 1,400 miles - not 1,500. Everything else is a round number. Then the distance requirement is ridiculous to anywhere from here. Cant get a decent award. The reality is gong to be much worse than the 'starting at" number. Do it the...

    It's terrible for us Alaskans. You know, where the airline started. It's 1,440 miles to Seattle from Anchorage. So what do they do? The change in the chart has a higher rate at 1,400 miles - not 1,500. Everything else is a round number. Then the distance requirement is ridiculous to anywhere from here. Cant get a decent award. The reality is gong to be much worse than the 'starting at" number. Do it the other way. Give us the max number and have discounts on that. The article is wrong. They have been giving status, much better status, with their co branded credit card. 20,000 miles max is terrible.

  4. SF Guest

    Earning elite via segments is useful for Alaskans, where you may end up on the “milk run” flight that consists of several short segments en route to the main destination. That’s the only way I’ve made elite status I believe.

  5. Kat Guest

    So - do any of these changes do anything for the pecking order of million milers?

  6. Ron Guest

    So AS mangenent is saying you can fly on other airlines and only say one time on Ak and receive status for all your mileage on the other partner airlines. Whats in it for AK..
    Doesn’t seem right to me when I earned my million miler all on Ak. flights.

  7. Srini Guest

    Did anyone notice now that Alaska Airlines is charging up to $128 for the emergency row seat which used to be free even for non elite members. I just booked a trip from Sacramento to Maui via San Diego and the leg from San Diego to Maui is $128 if you pick row 17. This is really disappointing because it used to be free in the past.

  8. Srini Guest

    Can you gift Gold status to anyone? I'm sure there are people willing to pay to get this gift. So it could be an opportunity to monetize this gift. Maybe we will see an eBay kind of bidding for this.

  9. Rob PDX Guest

    I’m a 100K (barely) with Alaska and look forward to the 20k credit card EQM helping me get there again in ‘24. But after that 20k, they give me no incentive to keep using the card, so back to the CSR after that. Seems silly when compared to others. Other than that the changes are manageable but the redemption changes coming up aren’t great.

  10. derek Guest

    $50,000 spend to get silver MVP is not worth it. Of course, you would fly some so maybe no spend is required for silver. Silver is good just for a free checked bag, earlier boarding, and a little earning bonus.

    1. Srini Guest

      I used to be a gold and silver member depending on the year when they used to fly non-stop from Sacramento to Maui but since they discontinued due to competition from Southwest who subsequently stopped flying on a daily basis we just have Hawaiian. Anyhow I used to get upgraded to first class quite often even on silver. and most of the other times I was able to get there extra legroom seats without any issues.

  11. HonestyandRealityGuy Guest

    Used to be, first class to Europe using mileage was 60 000 each way now DOUBLE that. We were saving to go. Sad, some of their changes. No longer the awards can be earned.

    1. Bonnie Guest

      I totally agreed. For those people who used miles for long hauls, it is basically useless anymore. Now I will just put all of my purchases on my debit card and the I won't ever have to pay interest. Maybe it is a win win

  12. Phon Guest

    Now seems almost impossible to find award space in business class from SEA PDX SFO LAX to BKK. (except on StarLux for 350,000 miles -
    which is crazy). Any idea if this situation will
    improve?

  13. Davisson Guest

    Oh man, why do I feel they gonna eliminate sweet spots on partner earnings. I mean this year I got 50k EQM from just one round trip in first class in BA to South Africa around 4.5k USD. Talk about super effective with time spent and not to mention I got over 100k in redeemable miles… they gonna need this won’t they… sigh….

  14. Eric Guest

    I recall a flight out of Hawaii on Alaska where 2/3 of the passengers were on the upgrade list…. Status only works when no one else has it.

  15. Jeff Guest

    I feel like I read back in the day Alaska was super focused on segments to help out people who constantly have to take the short puddle jumper flights within Alaska

  16. Jw Guest

    Well with only 20,000 credits from cc purchases we will switch to a card that gives cash back

  17. Sammy Guest

    The elite qualification via Segments was a benefit for PNW regional flyers back in the day. Think SEAPDX or SEAGEG weekly kind of flyers that would never really qualify otherwise as fast since the flights were 500 min. miles.

  18. EthaninSF Gold

    It has been my experience in the past 6 years or so that CC spending will get you AS status. I have achieved MVP and even MVP Gold status based on credit card spending for several years. Back when AS was partners with EK (and F awards were obtainable) - I eagerly directing spending to my Alaska cards. If I recall correctly, that in 2019 I qualified for MVP based on flying and the CC...

    It has been my experience in the past 6 years or so that CC spending will get you AS status. I have achieved MVP and even MVP Gold status based on credit card spending for several years. Back when AS was partners with EK (and F awards were obtainable) - I eagerly directing spending to my Alaska cards. If I recall correctly, that in 2019 I qualified for MVP based on flying and the CC spend (most likely) boosted me to MVP Gold. Since I had a large mileage cache, I would routinely use Alaska miles to fly (on AS metal, sometimes partners), so am not sure if that played into their internal calculations. I still routinely use my business Alaska card for ~$20k per month in business spending (because I always seem to have a use for AS miles). The only catch is that there is a bit of a lag before they decide to move me to MVP, so some Januarys I am without status.

  19. Steve from LA Member

    It will be a lot easier to earn top tier status with AS. The problem: "When everyone is elite, no one is." The delta status match opened the flood gates. I hear AS 75K members complaining of being 14 or 15 on the upgrade waitlist now. God only know what it will be like in 2025.

    Also, I have no doubt that there will be more of us competing for partner award redemptions. It...

    It will be a lot easier to earn top tier status with AS. The problem: "When everyone is elite, no one is." The delta status match opened the flood gates. I hear AS 75K members complaining of being 14 or 15 on the upgrade waitlist now. God only know what it will be like in 2025.

    Also, I have no doubt that there will be more of us competing for partner award redemptions. It has gotten difficult enough trying to find a reasonable business class or first class redemption for oversea travel. The changes are not going to make it any easier.

    1. eaci Guest

      As a data point, my wife (75K) was 12th on the list on Monday (SEA-DFW). I was surprised; when booking, I thought she'd be a lock. I'd probably have booked her in first had I realized her upgrade chances were as low as they were.

      That said, the plural of anecdote is not data, and that's the only upgrade she hasn't gotten all year.

  20. beyounged Guest

    Another potential consequence of eliminating required segments on Alaska is the floodgate opening for overseas folks who have never set foot onto an AS plane. They can easily dump their trips into AS MileagePlan instead of the lackluster Asian programs or others that do not earn status well at all, and that ranges from KE to SQ to JX. This can create a bunch of AS elites who just use their OWS or OWE for...

    Another potential consequence of eliminating required segments on Alaska is the floodgate opening for overseas folks who have never set foot onto an AS plane. They can easily dump their trips into AS MileagePlan instead of the lackluster Asian programs or others that do not earn status well at all, and that ranges from KE to SQ to JX. This can create a bunch of AS elites who just use their OWS or OWE for lounge hopping in Asia and will not generate AS any revenue. I personally know a few people who would easily qualify for MVPG100k with their flying pattern but now are stuck in their own program's mid-tier elites, and I bet they will not hesitate to switch and compete with regular AS flyers for award availability.

    1. eaci Guest

      I expect AS management has a pretty good handle on this, given that they only had the AS segment requirement for ~3 years. (Before that, they just had slightly higher thresholds if partner travel was included.)

    2. AlaskaFlyer1 Member

      By far the most underrated comment. I knew multiple people who struggled making the segments that were previously required in '23 to hit their status tier... All of them will easily hit 100k this year and will barely step foot on AS metal.
      I just don't understand how this benefits Alaska Airlines in any way - would love if someone could explain.

  21. BeachBoy Guest

    I wonder if the segment change and elimination of the AS flight requirements have something to do w/ their pending merger w/ HA.

    I've never liked the name Mileage Plan. I'm hoping they come up with something that better reflects the airline.

    1. VX_Flier Guest

      Absolutely. AS likely got rid of the segment earning because of its pending purchase of HA. A LOT of HA elite members got their status from lots of inter-island flights, which will be upsetting to many once it’s gone.

  22. Will Guest

    I like the fact that in the US, you can earn OneWorld Status in two total different ways!

    To an extreme, with Alaska, you can fly your way without any spending requirement to earn OneWorld Emerald status all by distance flown without BS elite qualifying dollars. (Of course, you can also put some spend on Alaska credit card without flying at all, $50,000 spent yield to Alaska MVP OW Ruby)

    To another extreme, with American,...

    I like the fact that in the US, you can earn OneWorld Status in two total different ways!

    To an extreme, with Alaska, you can fly your way without any spending requirement to earn OneWorld Emerald status all by distance flown without BS elite qualifying dollars. (Of course, you can also put some spend on Alaska credit card without flying at all, $50,000 spent yield to Alaska MVP OW Ruby)

    To another extreme, with American, you can spend your way to the top Executive Platinum (or even Concierge Key) by AA shopping, hotel, Simply Miles and Credit Card spent.

  23. Sam Guest

    Your comment about it being more difficult to earn status on segments is interesting; I'd like to provide my perspective. When I was first starting out in consulting and was going on two work-related trips per month, the majority of folks in my office got their status from segments alone. Most of our flights were 500 miles or less, so if you earned four segments per month, that would yield ~48 per year, but only...

    Your comment about it being more difficult to earn status on segments is interesting; I'd like to provide my perspective. When I was first starting out in consulting and was going on two work-related trips per month, the majority of folks in my office got their status from segments alone. Most of our flights were 500 miles or less, so if you earned four segments per month, that would yield ~48 per year, but only 24,000 MQM's per year. This was especially felt by the new people where one wouldn't even get the 500 minimum per flight because they had no status at all. A lot of us would go out of our way to get segments (DCA-CLT-SDF instead of flying DCA-SDF direct, for example) and that would get most of us to the second or even third status tier while still earning (much much) less than 50k MQM's. I personally am happy that most airlines have removed segment and mileage minimums and switched over to dollars spent. Now I am incentivized to take the quickest, shortest, most direct routing and usually am getting to status faster as I"m spending more on tickets.

    1. Lanny Guest

      In the past I have gained status upgrades from segments in the PNW. I can see why AS is doing it to reduce the wasted trips just to gain segments, especially around the end of the year. I needed 20 segments in DEC2023 to maintain 75k status. I flew 10 more segments than needed to get to my destinations.
      Supposedly the airports & airplanes will be less crowded.

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eaci Guest

I expect AS management has a pretty good handle on this, given that they only had the AS segment requirement for ~3 years. (Before that, they just had slightly higher thresholds if partner travel was included.)

1
Brandon Guest

Absolutely terrible decision for us business travelers in the NW that rely on segments to achieve status. Alaska Airlines is going downhill. Such a shame and switching to Delta.

0
Dave Guest

This article is clearly written by someone who doesn't live in the Northwest or Alaska where it takes 2-3 "segments" to get to and from your destination.

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