With nearly all other major US-based airlines’ frequent flier programs, changes to Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program are not surprising. When I first saw the email with subject “What’s in Store for 2015 Mileage Plan Members”, I thought the worst. I feared a massive devaluation. Alas, this is simply not the case. Some things are getting better, some are not.
All changes are affective for flights on or after January 1, 2015
New Mileage Earning Rates on Alaska
Bonus Miles for MVP Gold 75K Members
Alaska Airlines’ top-tier elite status “only” requires 75,000 miles of flying on Alaska Airlines, or 90,000 miles of flying on Alaska or partner airlines. I put quotes around only because that is a lot of flying on an airline that doesn’t have long-haul flights or destinations outside of North America.
They are bumping up the bonus miles earned from 100% to 125%. 100% is the current earning rate for regular MVP Gold elites – which only have to fly 40,000 miles on Alaska or 50,000 on Alaska or partner airlines. This means that someone, who begins the year without status and flies 75,000 miles on Alaska Airlines, will have a total of 170,000 miles. If you start the year as a MVP Gold 75K member, you’ll have close to 220,000 miles.
Updated Earning Rates for Travel on Delta
Next year, Delta’s SkyMiles program earning rates are based on cost of your flight, not the distance you fly. This is essentially rewarding people who pay more.
With the massive change with Delta’s SkyMiles (not-so-affectionately called SkyPesos), this change is hardly a surprise and is actually better than I thought it would be. The changes were necessary given the changes with SkyMiles. I do think that overall, it is a net positive change for MileagePlan. It gives more earned miles for more expensive fare classes – especially good for people that buy tickets in fare classes with complimentary upgrades.
I also think that the increase of bonus miles for 75K members is good as it gives more benefits to the higher level – as well as a better differentiation with it and the regular MVP Gold status level. Currently, the consensus is that the regular MVP Gold tier gives the best benefits for the requirements needed. I am very happy that Alaska Airlines did not follow suit with Delta and United – both are going to a revenue-based earning program next year. While I’m not sure that they won’t do so in the future, I still think that they know the value of the MileagePlan program. People are very loyal to the airline and making such a massive change would harm this loyalty.
Thank you, Alaska Airlines, for making the bare minimum devaluations while increasing other parts of the program to make up for it.