Alaska Airlines Extends Elite Status & Certificate Expirations


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The dominos are starting to fall. Delta led the way, United quickly followed and now Alaska Airlines has become the third major US airline to announce some very positive measures for its frequent flyers and to offer hope of further positive announcements in the weeks ahead.

Alaska Mileage Plan Status Extensions

All Alaska Mileage Plan members who currently hold elite status with the program will now keep that status through to 31 December 2021.

Even if an elite member doesn’t credit another flight to the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program in 2020, they will still enjoy all the benefits of their current status for another full year after this one….with one exception.

Alaska’s 75k elites will not be receiving the 50,000 bonus miles that they usually receive when hitting the required status thresholds (unless they somehow hit the 75k elite status requirements this year.)

Alaska Airlines Will Roll Over Elite Qualifying Miles

This isn’t something that I can find on the Alaska Airlines website but Travel Codex has reported that Mileage Plan members are receiving emails in which the airline states that any Elite Qualifying Miles that have been earned by 30 April 2020 will be rolled over into the 2021 qualification year.

Status Match Statuses Extended

Customers who were looking to move their business over to Alaska Airlines and who therefore requested a status match challenge between 1 December 2019 and 31 March 2020 will have their trial status extended to 31 December 2021.

Alaska’s Companion Certificates Extended

Holders of various Alaska Airlines co-branded credit cards can earn a companion fare voucher which entitles them to purchase a second ticket (for a companion) for just $99 + taxes/fees as long as they have already purchased a regular-price main cabin fare for the same flight.

All certificates set to expire this year will have their expiration date set to 31 December 2020 which will give certificate holders the opportunity to book travel (with the voucher) through 26 November 2021.

Alaska Lounge Memberships Extended

All but one of Alaska’s lounges are currently closed so it’s not surprising that the airline has announced an extension for purchased lounge memberships.

All lounge memberships that were active as of 1 April 2020 will have their membership period extended by 6 months.

Suggestions Of Future Positive Moves

Per the airline:

Tier qualification requirements are not being adjusted at this time, but look for more information over the coming weeks on ways you can earn additional elite-qualifying miles this year.

This would seem to suggest that the airline isn’t considering reducing elite thresholds for this year (like United has already done) but that it may bring back an offer similar to the one we saw earlier in the year where flyers can earn bonus elite qualifying miles.

Thoughts

There are a lot of very positive announcements here but there’s also one significant omission.

The fact that Mileage Plan statuses have been extended by a year and that lounge memberships have been extended too is very good news for flyers but not really a surprise – Alaska couldn’t really offer anything less considering what we have already seen Delta and United offer.

The decision to extend the statuses of those enrolled in a status challenge is a very generous move by the airline and is probably the biggest surprise out of all the things mentioned in Alaska’s latest announcement.

The rolling over of elite qualifying miles earned by 30 April 2020 is a nice gesture (it means that flights credited to Mileage Plan in the first quarter of the year will still count for something) but it would have been nice if Alaska had allowed all EQM earned in 2020 to roll over – it would be one way to encourage flyers to stick with the airline when (if) the skies reopen later this year.

The one obvious thing that Alaska continues to ignore is the subject of expiring miles. Delta, United and even airlines that have shown little interest in helping out their frequent flyers (like American Airlines) have said that they will not be expiring miles in the coming months…but Alaska Airlines has made no such promise. That’s not great.

Alaska Airlines First Class

Bottom Line

Given what we have seen Delta and United announce it’s unsurprising to see Alaska Airlines announcing a raft of measures to keep frequent flyers happy…but it’s still good to see.

This move also adds to the brightness of the spotlight that American Airlines finds itself in as we continue to wait and see if “the world’s largest airline” can summon up the inner strength to go against its usual nature and actually do something positive for flyers.

Featured image courtesy of Alaska Airlines

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