Overview of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan Program

by Brian on June 10, 2012

in Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air

Mileage Plan: Alaska Airlines’ ® Frequent Flyer Program

Mileage Plan ® is Alaska Airlines’  frequent flyer program. Members earn miles on Alaska’s flights throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Miles can also be earned for travel on Alaska’s partner airlines (which includes Horizon Air, American, Delta, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Korean Air, and British Airways) as well through its extensive hotel, car rental, shopping, and dining partnerships. Membership in Mileage Plan is free.

Alaska Airlines’ Route Network

From its hubs in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), and Los Angeles, Alaska operates an extensive route network focused on Alaska, the West Coast, and Hawaii markets with Boeing 737 aircraft.  The company also serves numerous cities in the Midwest, Texas, and on the East Coast. Internationally, Alaska flies to British Columbia, Canada, and nine destinations in Mexico.

Alaska Airlines / Horizon Air Regional Partnership

One of Horizon Air’s Q400s.

Horizon Air ®, Alaska’s sister airline, operates hubs in Seattle, Portland, and Boise using Bombardier Q400 and CRJ-700 aircraft.  The company operates flights to smaller destinations in the Western United States, allowing Alaska Airlines to use Horizon Air to expand its route network.  Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are both subsidiaries of the Alaska Air Group.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Elite Levels and Qualification Requirements

Alaska has a generous Mileage Plan elite program to reward members for their loyalty. Although Alaska is not part of an airline alliance like Star Alliance, SkyTeam, or oneworld, members of Mileage Plan enjoy elite frequent flyer benefits on numerous partners, including U.S. carriers Delta and American. Mileage Plan has three elite levels: MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75.

MVP:  To achieve MVP status, you must fly a minimum of 20,000 elite qualifying miles on Alaska (or 25,000 including select partner airlines) or 30 qualifying segments in a calendar year. MVP members enjoy:

  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades on Alaska on certain fares, or 48 hours prior to departure on other fares;
  • Complimentary upgrades on Delta flights in the United States (excluding Hawaii), Canada, Mexico, and select Caribbean destinations;
  • Priority boarding on Alaska, American, and Delta;
  • Two free checked bags on Alaska and America, one free checked bag on Delta;
  • Priority AAccess check-in and security lines at select airports when traveling on American;
  • Preferred seating on Alaska, American, and Delta;
  • 50% bonus flight miles on Alaska, Air France, American, Delta, Emirates, KLM, and LAN;
  • 50% discount on Board Room club membership; and
  • Dedicated phone lines and staff for Alaska reservations and Mileage Plan customer service.

MVP Gold:  To achieve MVP Gold status, you must fly a minimum of 40,000 elite qualifying miles on Alaska (or 50,000 including select partner airlines) or 60 qualifying segments in a calendar year. MVP Gold members enjoy:

  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades on certain fares, or 72 hours prior to departure on other fares;
  • Complimentary upgrades on Delta flights in the United States (excluding Hawaii), Canada, Mexico, and select Caribbean destinations;
  • Unlimited ability to upgrade one traveling companion into first class;
  • Four one-way complimentary electronic guest upgrades awarded annually  upon reaching MVP Gold status;
  • First class check-in privileges at Alaska and Delta;
  • Priority AAccess check-in and security lines at select airports when traveling on American;
  • Express security lines at select airports;
  • Priority board on Alaska, American, and Delta;
  • Two free checked bags on Alaska, American, and Delta;
  • Preferred seating on Alaska, American, and Delta;
  • 100% bonus miles on Alaska, Air France, American, Delta, Emirates, KLM, and LAN;
  • Initiation fee waived for Board Room club membership; and
  • One complimentary premium beverage when traveling in the main cabin.

MVP Gold 75: To achieve Alaska’s top tier elite MVP Gold 75 status, you must fly a minimum of 75,000 elite qualifying miles (or 90,000 when including select partner airlines) or 90 qualifying segments in a calendar year.  MVP Gold 75 members enjoy all the benefits of MVP Gold plus:

  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades on certain fares, or 120 hours prior to departure on other fares;
  • Top priority on the first class wait list for qualifying fares;
  • Opportunity to nominate a friend or family member to MVP status;
  • 50,ooo bonus miles when you attain MVP Gold 75 status;
  • Complimentary “digEplayer” personal entertainment device when traveling in the main cabin; and
  • Four complimentary Board Room club day passes.

Alaska’s well-known tail design.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Awards

Miles earned for travel on Alaska and through its extensive hotel, car rental, shopping, and dining partnerships can be redeemed for Super Saver, Choice, and Full Flex Awards for travel on Alaska Airlines. Additionally, miles can be used for award travel on Alaska’s partner airlines. Award tickets for travel on Alaska can be booked through alaskaair.com or the company’s telephone customer service agents.  Miles earned do not expire as long as members earn or spend at least one mile every 24 months. The four award types are:

  • Super Saver: Coach or first class travel at lower mileage levels, subject to seating limitations, and may not be available on all flights.
  • Choice Awards: Coach travel at slightly higher mileage levels, but with much greater availability than Super Saver Awards.
  • Full Flex:  Maximum flexibility for coach or first class and allow travel without seating or date limitations.
  • Miles and Money Awards: Only available on alaskaair.com and offer up to a 50% discount on most coach or First Class fares.  Maximum discount is $100 off of the base fare for 10,000 miles, or $200 off of the base fare for 20,000 Miles. Earn 100% of the Mileage Plan miles flown when traveling on this award. Complimentary upgrades are not allowed with these awards.

Alaska Airlines has fairly mediocre award seat availability. Based on a recent study conducted by Switchfly, about 59% of Alaska Air flights had award seats available when customers tried to redeem miles. By comparison, Southwest was tops at 100%, United had about 87% availability, and Delta was last at 27% availability.

The breakdown of mileage awards:

In addition, the airline also offers intra-state awards for round-trip tickets within one individual state, including Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington. They are also available for one-way travel. The miles needed are:

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Members Enjoy Great Benefits When Traveling on Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Other Partners

Delta Air LinesWhen traveling on Delta, Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K elite members have access to priority check-in, boarding, express security lines, preferred seating, complimentary domestic upgrades, and two free checked bags.  Mileage Plan MVP members have access to priority check-in, boarding, preferred seating, and one free checked bag. Miles flown, as well as premium cabin bonuses earned on Delta, count towards elite status. Mileage Plan MVP members earn 50% elite bonuses and MVP Gold and Gold 75K level members earn 100% elite bonuses on miles flown. Elite bonus miles do not count toward elite qualification.

American AirlinesFor travel on American, Alaska Mileage Plan elite-level members have access to priority check-in, boarding, express security lines, preferred seating, plus 2 free checked bags. Flown miles, as well as premium cabin bonuses earned on American, count towards elite status. Mileage Plan MVP members earn 50% elite bonus and MVP Gold and Gold 75K level members earn 100% elite bonus on miles flown. Elite bonus miles do not count toward elite qualification.

Alaska Airlines’ Other Airline Partners

Earn Mileage Plan miles when traveling on certain flights operated by Alaska’s additional partner airlines. Mileage Plan numbers should be provided at the time of booking and when checking in at the airport. Partners include:

  • Air France
  • Air Pacific
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Emirates
  • Era Alaska
  • Icelandair
  • Kenmore Air
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • LAN
  • PanAir
  • Qantas

Alaska Airlines’ Car Rental Partners

Earn miles for qualifying car rentals. To earn mileage credit, Mileage Plan numbers should be provided when making reservations and at the car rental counter. The car rental partners include:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Thrifty

Alaska Airlines’ Hotel Partners

Earn miles for qualifying stays at participating hotels. To earn mileage credit, Mileage Plan numbers should be provided when making reservations and checking into hotels. The hotel partners include:

  • Aston Hotels & Resorts
  • Best Western
  • Choice Hotels
  • Coast Hotels
  • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
  • Fiesta Americana Hilton Worldwide
  • La Quinta Inns & Suites
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels
  • Preferred Hotel Group Priority Club Rewards
  • Red Lion
  • Shilo Inns
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Westmark Hotels

Alaska Airlines’ Specialty Partners

In addition to airline, car rental, and hotel partners, Alaska has an extensive list of specialty partners to allow Mileage Plan members to earn miles for non-travel related transactions such as dining out, buying groceries, and ordering flowers, to name a few.

One of Alaska Airlines’ 737-800s.

Please share your thoughts on Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan Program, as well as any tips for traveling on Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air.

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