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Matching Status to My New Airline — TPG Reader Success Story

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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives — the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.

I want to share these success stories with all of you more often to help inspire you the way you inspire me! So every other week or so I select a story that catches my eye and post it here for everyone to enjoy. Two weeks ago I posted a story from TPG reader Peter, who only recently got into award travel, and just booked a trip to Australia (including airfare and hotels) with the points he has earned.

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Eli, who took advantage of a status match opportunity to make his holiday travel plans a bit more comfortable. Here’s what he had to say:

Alaska Airlines now matches up to top-tier MVP Gold 75k status.

This summer I took interest in one of your articles that discussed how airlines will match elite status granted by one of their competitors. As a somewhat frequent traveler (for work and pleasure), I’ve earned Premier Silver status with United Airlines and Bronze status with British Airways. After living in London for quite some time, these were the two airlines that could get me back to the States frequently for all the weddings, bachelor parties and holidays.

Now that I’ve moved to Hawaii, my preferred airlines for interisland flights and travel back to the mainland are Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines, respectively. Your article mentioned that I should wait until October to match with Alaska Airlines (so I’d retain status through the end of 2016), and that the process could take as long as four to six weeks. That worked out well for me, since I have upcoming flights around Thanksgiving.

I set a reminder in my Google Calendar, and on October 2nd I sent Alaska Airlines a photo of my drivers license, both sides of my United Premier card, and my most recent United MileagePlus online statement. While I had expected to wait for a while, my request was approved within one week, and I was granted MVP status with Alaska Airlines.

After receiving the e-mail confirmation, I immediately accessed my upcoming flight using the Alaska Airlines app, and was able to secure an exit row for both legs of the flight. It’s a small victory, but the extra legroom will be much appreciated. Thanks!

While Eli’s story isn’t the most glamorous, taking advantage of a status match opportunity is a great way to ease the shift to a new carrier. MVP status offers perks like mileage bonuses, free checked bags and (as Eli experienced) complimentary access to Alaska’s Preferred Plus seating. You can also enjoy certain benefits on Delta and American, which helps when you need to fly outside of Alaska’s route network. By waiting until October to request a match, you can earn status through the entire following year.

Alaska is my latest airline crush, not only because of the quality of service, but also because of the great value offered by the Mileage Plan program. Alaska miles are great for booking Emirates First Class awards, American Airlines off-peak awards and more. If you have to switch airlines, you could certainly do a lot worse!

A little extra legroom is a welcome perk, especially on longer flights between Hawaii and the mainland.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Eli for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on his travels, and I’d like to do the same for you.

If the tips and strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me (and the whole TPG team) with your own award travel success stories by emailing and putting “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, you’ll have our utmost appreciation, and a gift card to jump-start your next adventure (purchased from Office Depot with my Chase Ink Plus, of course).

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

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