New Alaska Mileage Plan Top Elite Tier

Alaska has announced its new elite tier above MVP Gold, this will be MVP Gold 75K. And it will be earned at the… wait for it… 75,000 qiualifying mile level. At least if you fly 75,000 qualifying miles on Alaska or Horizon. If you include partner miles in your total, it takes 90,000 qualifying miles or 90 segments.

The additional benefits are 50,000 bonus miles (this isn’t actually new, it’s long been a benefit for flying 75,000 miles), nominate a friend for MVP status (c’mon, they could have offered to gift MVP Gold), higher upgrade priority and earlie clearance time, as well as a free DigE Player in coach (hah!), and 4 complimentary lounge passes.

Giving higher priority for upgrades to more frequent flyers makes sense. And Alaska has needed a higher tier, as they’ve added longer-distance flights. No longer a regional airline, and with the ability to credit partner travel from both American and Delta, there are simply way too many MVP Golds for the first class cabin and many wind up in back — especially on long flights. Advance confirmable upgrades have all but disappeared, for instsance, on the DC – Seattle route in my experience. I still find the best way to secure first class to be to travel with a companion, pay for the first seat, and use a $99 companion certificate which comes with the co-branded Bank of America Visa.

But there’s really little new here beyond higher upgrade priority for folks flying more. The threshold bonus miles have long been a perk of the program, and in fact used to be awarded at 75,000 qualifying miles whether those miles were earned flying Alaska or its partners. By bundling this benefit in with the new elite tier, and declaring that it takes 90,000 qualifying miles if including partner flying, this current benefit actually becomes harder to achieve.

It remains to be seen whether Alaska will comp top tier members of other programs to their new top tier. They have long been willing to status match to MVP Gold. Will they match, say, United 1Ks to MVP Gold 75k? (Continental has long been willing to comp to their 75,000 mile flown Platinum level, and Northwest used to comp to Platinum before it was acquired by Delta. Most other programs don’t comp to their top level.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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