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Last year, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines announced that they would be taking their relationship to the next level by offering each other’s elite flyers reciprocal upgrades. These upgrades have now been available to AAdvantage and Mileage Plan members for a couple of months so this is a roundup of what is currently being offered, what we’re told will be on the way, and how the upgrades work.
Alaska Airlines Flyers Upgrading On American Airlines
Extra Legroom Seating
- Alaska Airlines MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K elites can now select Main Cabin Extra seats at the time of booking.
- Alaska Airlines MVP elites can select Main Cabin Extra seats in the 24 hours leading up to their scheduled departure time.
- Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K elites are eligible for complimentary upgrades to First Class on American Airlines on routes within the United States and on routes from the United States to Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda, and Central America.
- The ‘space available upgrades’ available to MVP Gold 75K elites are only offered on the day of travel via the airport upgrade list (there is no upgrade window in the days leading up to travel). MVP Gold 75K elites are added to the airport upgrade list when they check in.
- Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K elites come after AAdvantage Platinum Pro and ahead of AAdvantage Platinum members in the priority order for complimentary upgrades. Within their priority level, elites are ordered by the fare class they have booked and then by the time they booked their fare.
- One companion traveling on the same booking as an MVP Gold 75K elite is also eligible for a complimentary upgrade to First Class.
- Bookings in Basic Economy are not upgradeable for MVP Gold 75k elites.
Coming Later In 2021
This is just the first part of the reciprocal upgrade rollout and Alaska Airlines has confirmed that more can be expected “later this year”.
- Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K elites will be automatically added to the American Airlines upgrade waitlists and will be eligible to upgrade to First Class starting from 72 hours before their scheduled departure time.
- All Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members who qualify for MVP Gold 75K status this year (for status through 2022) will be given an international upgrade certificate (presumably similar to an American Airlines Systemwide Upgrade).
Further changes may also be on their way but the airlines have not given any further details.
American Airlines Flyers Upgrading On Alaska Airlines
Extra Legroom Seating
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum elites are able to select Premium Class seats at the time of booking.
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro and Platinum elites are able to select Premium Class seats at the time of booking when booking Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S, or N fare classes. All other fare classes only entitle Platinum Pro and Platinum elites to select Premium Class seats in the 72 hours leading up to their scheduled departure time.
- AAdvantage Gold members can select Premium Class seats at the time of booking when booking Y, B, or H fare classes. All other fare classes only entitle Gold elites to select Premium Class seats in the 48 hours leading up to the scheduled departure time.
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum elites are eligible for upgrades to First Class on Alaska Airlines with upgrades being confirmable in the 120 hours leading up to their departure time.
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum elites sit between MVP Gold 75k and MVP Gold elites when it comes to priority on Alaska’s upgrade waitlists. Priority is decided first on the fare class booked and then by the time and date their upgrade request was made.
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum elites booking Alaska’s “saver” fares (Basic Economy) are not eligible to upgrade to First Class.
- Traveling companions are not currently eligible for complimentary upgrades even if traveling on the same booking.
Coming Later In 2021
As part of future improvements to the rules set out above, one companion traveling on the same booking as an AAdvantage Executive Platinum elite will be eligible for a complimentary upgrade to First Class but no indication has been given to say when this improvement will be implemented.
American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have now been offering elite flyers reciprocal upgrades for approximately two months so we have had a reasonable amount of time to see the upgrades working in the real world. So far, so good if most reports are to be believed.
More changes can be expected as the year progresses and I suspect that Alaska’s introduction of its new 100K status tier will play a big role in how upgrades are handled going forward.
What do you think of the reciprocal upgrades at this point? Is there anything you’d like to see added to the rules or changed?