I’ve been an MVP Gold with Alaska for a few years now, and though the relationship has been rocky at times, the elite program has treated me very well over time and provided me with thousands of dollars worth of benefits including flight changes and seat upgrades for my trouble.

Alaska adapted during COVID-19, and was one of the last airlines to stop restricting middle seats to promote social distancing during the height of the pandemic. They were also creative in giving customers options to redeem their unused flight credits as miles at the end of 2020.

Lounges

The airline then announced changes to its lounge program last Spring. While existing members were grandfathered in to the old program for a few months following the announcement, those hoping to retain their lounge access going forward will see a sharp increase in fees effective October 2021. If you’re an elite member with unused airline incidental credits, the lounges could still be a good option as they offer an all-inclusive experience through a well stocked bar, snacks and coffee. We recently enjoyed a visit to the newly opened location at SFO during a trip.

Elite Status

Alaska’s most recent announcement came in September 2021 when it announced that it had made some changes to its elite status program. First, that if you had not yet earned your 2019 status (which was carried through 2020) in 2021, you would be given four additional months (January – April, 2022) to do so. Second, if you were an Alaska Airlines Visa Card holder, you could now earn elite qualifying miles (EQM) through spend for the first time ever: Every $2,500 in spend (up to $20,000) would net you 2,500 EQM through November 15, 2021. Third, the 50% bonus on EQM had been extended through December 31, 2021 allowing you to capitalize on any flights you took in the 2021 calendar year. And finally, that a new elite status, MVP Gold 100K had been added.

MVP Gold 100K

As you may expect, this new peak of elite status with Alaska Airlines is earned after earning 100,000 EQM in a calendar year. This exceeds the requirements for MVP (20,000 EQM), MVP Gold (40,000 EQM) and MVP Gold 75K (75,000 EQM). EQM’s are among the remaining, legitimate, measures of miles flown. While most airlines now multiple (or reduce) these miles in accordance with how much you paid for the ticket, Alaska will still give you one EQM for every mile you fly regardless of how much you spent for the ticket. If you earn 100,000 EQM, you can expect to receive the highest priority for upgrades, a free fruit and cheese platter when you aren’t in first class, and a 150% bonus (up from 125% with Gold 75K) on elite miles. In short, the real benefit with this new elite level is your spot on the upgrade waitlist.

Looking Ahead

It’s been a rough couple of years for travelers, but with hope on the horizon, Alaska is taking steps to ensure you can pickup where you left off, and if you haven’t let up, that you’ll be rewarded for your loyalty.