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Back in 2017 American Airlines and Alaska Airlines announced some significant negative changes to their partnership and it was only October last year that American Airlines removed Alaska Airlines from its list of award partners…but that was then and this is now.
In what has been viewed as a remarkable U-turn by both airlines, Alaska and American are best of friends again and Alaska Airlines is even petitioning to become a member of the oneworld alliance in 2021. As part of this refound friendship, both airlines rolled out reciprocal mileage earnings from 1 April 2020 but while Alaska Airlines’ first earnings chart offered mileage earnings and elite status earnings on American Airlines flights…
…American’s earnings chart only showed mileage earnings – elite status earnings were nowhere to be seen:
This has now changed as American Airlines has updated its earnings charts (HT: Flyertalk):
Comparing the Alaska and American Airlines earnings charts would appear to show that Alaska Airlines is more generous to its elite flyers when it comes to full-fare/flexible bookings but American Airlines rewards its flyers a little better when it comes to elite qualifying miles earned for the cheapest Economy Class bookings.
I don’t think there’s a strong case to say that one chart is better than the other as each chart favors a different type of traveler.
One significant positive aspect of the earnings that American Airlines offers for Alaska Airlines flights is the Elite Qualifying Dollar earnings rate for discounted Business Class fares.
American calculates the number of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) to award for Alaska Airlines flights by using the distance traveled (rather than the price of the fare) so anyone managing to find good discounted First Class deals on Alaska Airlines will earn miles at a rate of 30% of the distance flown and may be able to rack up a significant number of EQD at a very economical cost/EQD.
Routes like Seattle to Honolulu (5,354 miles roundtrip) and Seattle to New York JFK (4.843) will see flyers earning 1,606 EQD and 1,453 EQD respectively if they book into discounted First Class, and with fares expected to be significantly suppressed when we’re finally all allowed to travel again, routes such as these could offer an economical path to elite status.
We always knew that American Airlines would be offering elite status earnings for Alaska Airlines bookings we just didn’t know when that would happen…and it’s happened quicker than some of us anticipated.
There’s nothing amazingly good or amazingly bad about the new American/Alaska earnings charts but it looks like discounted First Class fares on Alaska Airlines may yield economically-earned elite status credits for the AAdvantage program.