Here’s why Alaska’s new status challenge is great for frequent flyers

Introduction
Benefits of Alaska Elite status
Alaska’s new status match challenge
The easiest strategy for renewing Elite status

Introduction

Alaska Airlines has turned into somewhat of a refuge for frequent fliers who have abandoned the big three (American, United, and Delta) after years of devaluations to loyalty programs and a general decline in customer service. As we approach the end of 2019, we wanted to review why now is the perfect time for many to change their allegiance to Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan.

For the past few years, Alaska Airlines has offered a status match. This year, they’ve introduced a twist to the status match which turns it more into a challenge. While this means it is now more work to keep your nearly minted Mileage Plan status, we believe the value proposition for frequent flyers certainly warrants it. And quite honestly, completing the challenge is not only easy, but very affordable– especially if you live near an Alaska hub.

Valuing Alaska’s Elite status benefits

Alaska Airlines has 3 Elite status tiers, which can be achieved by flying on both Alaska Airlines and elite-qualifying partners.

Alaska Airlines Elite status earning requirements

All status tiers include these basic benefits:

Mileage bonuses for paid fares (based on distance flown, not $$$ spent!)
Priority check-in and boarding, and express security lines at select airports
Two free checked bags for you and companions on the same reservation
Free seat upgrades, based on availability (except on Saver fares)

However, the real value is in MVP Gold 75K status, which offers incredible value that, quite frankly, other domestic carriers don’t come close to competing with. Benefits include:

A 125% mileage bonus for flights flown on Alaska Airlines and its partners
Free same-day flight changes regardless of difference in fare
Waived fees for ticket changes and service fees, which includes partner award tickets
Top priority for unlimited First Class upgrades, and for standby and waitlists
Complementary inflight premium beverages
Status nomination to gift MVP Elite status to a friend or family member
Four free Alaska Lounge day passes and First Class guest upgrades

To put the value of MVP Gold 75K status into perspective, we’ve been upgraded to First Class on 80% of our Alaska Airlines flights in 2019. While I’m sure the odds won’t be nearly that good for Seattle-based flyers, upgrades in and out of LAX and SFO have been almost guaranteed this year. MVP Gold and Gold 75K status also offer the flexibility of same-day flight changes, which we’ve done more than a handful of times on both paid and award fares, saving at least $125 each time.

The status match challenge

It’s important to note that a status match with Alaska Airlines can only be completed once over the lifetime of a Mileage Plan account. So before you status match, make sure you have upcoming travel plans to benefit from matching and a chance at renewing status for the following year.

In the past, Alaska has status matched all the way up to MVP Gold 75K upon verification of your status with an eligible airline. Elite status has typically been granted for the remainder of the calendar year, or even through the following year for applications between October 1 – December 31st. With the introduction of the status match challenge this month, that is no longer the case. But the good news is: the challenge is easy to complete, and the process is particularly rewarding.

The new language for Alaska’s challenge is below:

To receive a status match, simply submit proof of Elite status with an eligible airline from this list:

Once approved, you’ll need to fly between 5,000 to 20,000 miles on Alaska Airlines to renew one of MVP, MVP Gold, or MVP Gold 75K status. Of course there’s a caveat — you’ll only have 3 months to complete the challenge.

While this challenge hasn’t been a requirement in the past, flying 20,000 miles is a pretty low bar to renew top tier Elite status. It can easily be achieved with just 4 round trip coast-to-coast flights.

How to easily renew Elite status

If you’ve followed our travels over the last few months, you may have seen how we took advantage of an Alaska double mileage promo on our Hainan Airlines mileage runs to earn serious RDM (redeemable miles).

The good news for status match challengers is Alaska is running a similar double mileage promotion called Coast2Coast, which doubles earnings for all nonstop flights between California and select East coast cities. A full list of destinations is below:

Earn double miles for coast to coast flights between these destinations

So if you’ve got a few weekends open between now and end of year, you could easily book 4 round trip flights from San Francisco to New York for $258 round trip (or $218 for Saver fares). Fares between Los Angeles and New York are currently the same price, and we’ve seen both drop as low as $99!

In doing so, you’ll earn over 5,000 EQMs and 17,000 RDMs per roundtrip as an MVP Gold 75K status holder. Not a bad way to renew status through the end of 2020 and collect a cool 70,000 Mileage Plan miles in the process! That’s enough for a First Class trip to Asia on Cathay Pacific, so just make sure to think of us while you’re cruising at 35,000 feet on your next trip to Japan.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2019-09-03-at-7.04.13-pm.png
Redeem 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for a First Class ticket to Asia

Are you planning to take on Alaska’s status match challenge or take advantage of the double mileage promo? Let us know how your challenge is going and what strategies you’re using to maximize your Elite status benefits.

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