Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Hidden Gem of the Emerald City
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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Hidden Gem of the Emerald City

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Learn about a unique frequent flyer program that goes unnoticed by millions of Americans. Though Alaska Airlines has a relatively small network of its own, it partners with Delta Air Lines and ...

Learn about a unique frequent flyer program that goes unnoticed by millions of Americans. Though Alaska Airlines has a relatively small network of its own, it partners with Delta Air Lines and American Airlines -- as well as many leading international carriers -- to offer one of the easiest programs to earn miles and elite status with a single carrier. Even less frequent flyers will find themselves rewarded with unique benefits like lower qualification requirements, confirmed upgrades, free drinks in economy class, and the ability to cancel tickets with no penalty.

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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Hidden Gem of the Emerald City Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Hidden Gem of the Emerald City Presentation Transcript

  • Hidden Gem of the Emerald City: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Scott Mackenzie | HackMyTrip.com Frequent Traveler University — April 27, 2014
  • Network & Partners
  • Route Map “Alaska Airlines dominates the West Coast and Pacific Northwest…” • Hubs in PDX, SEA, and ANC • Multiple daily flights to every Hawaiian island • Award flights to Alaska for the same cost as the Lower 48 • Several non-stop routes to the Midwest and East Coast • Expanding to CUN, BWI, DTW, MSY, and TPA
  • Partners Delta Air Lines American Airlines
  • Elite Status
  • Elite Status MVP MVP Gold MVP Gold 75K Miles on Alaska Airlines 20,000 40,000 75,000 Miles on Alaska Airlines + Partners 25,000 50,000 90,000 Segments 30 60 90 • Fewer miles than most programs require • Can achieve status while flying multiple carriers – Need lots of miles from partners before it makes sense • MVP Gold has unique flight cancellation benefits
  • Elite Status: MVP • 50% bonus miles • 2 free checked bags • Priority check-in • Preferred seating • 48-hour upgrade window
  • Elite Status: MVP Gold • 100% bonus miles • 2 free checked bags • Priority check-in • Preferred seating • 72-hour upgrade window • Various fee waivers • Priority security line • Standby on full flights • Free same-day flight changes • Free flight cancellations • Free drink on board
  • Elite Status: MVP Gold 75K • 100% bonus miles • 2 free checked bags • Priority check-in • Preferred seating • 120-hour upgrade window • Various fee waivers • Priority security line • Standby on full flights • Free same-day flight changes • Free flight cancellations • Free drink on board • 50K bonus miles • Free MVP status for a friend • 4 Board Room day passes • Free digEplayer
  • MVP Gold Is the Sweet Spot Alaska Gold Delta Gold America n Platinum United Gold Miles required 40,000 50,000 50,000 50,000 Bonus award miles 100% 100% 100% 50% Free checked bags 2 2 2 3 Confirmed upgrades 4 No No No Same day change fee No No $75 No Ticket cancellation fee No Award cancellation fee No $150 $150 $100 • Cancel up to 60 days before departure and use your credit for a future flight • MVP Gold/75K can cancel at any time
  • Getting Upgrades with Status • ―U‖ fare class must be available for upgrade • All elite members can get free upgrades at booking – MVP Gold/75K: Y, S, B, M, H – MVP: Y, S, B
  • Getting Upgrades with Status • Four MVP Gold Guest Upgrades for MVP Gold 75K – Can use for anyone, even if not traveling with elite member – Some fares excluded: G, R, T • Avios awards can also be upgraded and earn miles – Must have Mileage Plan number in the reservation
  • Getting Upgrades without Status • Use 15,000 miles – Fare class purchased must still be Y, S, B, M, H • Upgrades at the gate range from $50-200 • Upgrade as a Delta Sky Miles elite member – Priority after all Mileage Plan elites
  • American Airlines • 1-2 free checked bags • Priority AAccess check-in • Priority AAccess boarding • Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seating Delta Air Lines • 1-2 free checked bags • Priority check-in • Zone 1 priority boarding • Preferred seating • Complimentary upgrades – Excluding JFK transcons Reciprocal Elite Benefits
  • Alaska Airlines Board Room • Only a handful of Board Room locations – ANC, SEA, PDX, LAX (SFO closing soon) • Many partnerships with other airport lounges – All Delta Sky Clubs – Many other lounges depending on location • Affordable renewals and discounts for elite members – $450/$375/$295 new membership – $350/$325/$295 renewals • Free access with Priority Pass Select (via Amex Platinum)
  • Alaska Airlines Board Room
  • Miles
  • Earning Miles • Alaska generally awards the same number of award and elite-qualifying miles • 100% miles for most fares • 125% miles for Y economy class fares • 150% miles for F and P first class fares • 500-mile minimum even without elite status • Earn 100-150% miles on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and most partners
  • Redeeming Miles • Five award levels: – Coach (high and low) – Refundable coach – First – Refundable first
  • Great Values on Cathay Pacific One-Way Award Fares Coach Business First North America to Asia 30,000 50,000 70,000 North America to Australia/New Zealand 40,000 60,000 80,000 North America to Africa/India/Middle East 50,000 62,500 70,000 Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – © Karl L. Swartz
  • Great Values on Emirates One-Way Award Fares Coach Business First North America to Asia 52,500 75,000 100,000 North America to India/Middle East 42,500 72,500 90,000 North America to Africa 47,500 77,500 100,000
  • Great Values on Fiji Airways Round-Trip Award Fares Coach Business North America to S. Pacific/Australia/New Zealand 80,000 110,000 Hawaii to S. Pacific/Australia/New Zealand 55,000 90,000 Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – © Karl L. Swartz
  • Strategic Opportunities
  • Saving Money with Alaska Airlines • Companion fare costs about $118 – Applies to any itinerary in economy class on Alaska Airlines – Both passengers earn miles and qualify for upgrades – Earned after signing up for Alaska Airlines Visa and at each account anniversary • 5% discount on weekly fare specials – Must sign up for newsletters • Cheap upgrades at the gate, from $50-200
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature • 3X on Alaska Airlines and 1X on everything else • $79 annual fee • Typically 25,000-mile sign-up bonus upon approval • No free checked bag or priority boarding/check-in! Major benefit of card is the annual companion fare.
  • Companion Fare • Deposited as a coupon in your Mileage Plan account • May be used for round-trip, one-way, or multi-city travel • Can’t book first class, but flights are eligible for upgrades and to earn miles • TIP: Bank of America has a reputation for offering customers multiple credit cards
  • How Alaska Helps You Save Miles • Cheaper awards to Alaska – Considered part of the continental U.S. • Cheaper intra-state awards • Cheaper Avios awards to Hawaii – All Alaska Airlines flights to the islands are 12,500 points • Free stopovers on domestic one-way awards
  • Using Avios to Book on Alaska Airlines • Avios is a distance-based award chart – Greatest value in short, non-stop flights with no fuel surcharges
  • Using Avios to Fly to Hawaii • Only 12,500 points each way to Hawaii • Connect in BLI, PDX for 9,000 more • Connect in California for 15,000 more • Compare to 40,000 miles for most other airline programs Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – © Karl L. Swartz
  • Using Avios to Fly to Hawaii • You must call to book! Phone in by 4 PM to be secure a spot in the queue.
  • Using Avios to Fly to Hawaii
  • Finding Alaska’s Award Space • Three economy class award levels, two for first class – Only the cheapest will be available to partners
  • Finding Alaska’s Award Space • Confirm partner award availability using American Airlines
  • Stopovers on One-Way Awards • Stopovers allow you to book a single award ticket for multiple future uses • Can fill in remaining itinerary with Avios awards or revenue tickets 20,000 Mileage Plan miles or 25,000 Avios points?
  • 52,500 vs. 90,000 Miles • EWR – SEA // SEA – OGG = 20,000 miles + $5 • OGG – SEA // SEA – SFO = 20,000 miles + $5 • SFO – SEA // SEA – DCA = 12,500 miles + $5 Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – © Karl L. Swartz
  • Summary • Alaska Airlines’ own network is limited …but it is great if you happen to live or travel on the West Coast • Great partner relationships help Alaska fill any gaps – Knowing how to exploit partners is key to maximizing value – American Airlines and Delta Air Lines – British Airways, Emirates, Cathay, and Fiji • Earning elite status is relatively easy and more rewarding than with many competitors