Great deal: AA offering free long-haul upgrades to top Alaska Airlines elites
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
When Alaska Airlines joined American’s Oneworld alliance last month, we learned of the two airlines’ plans for reciprocal elite benefits, including lounge access, seat assignments and complimentary upgrades.
For one, Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K members who qualify for status valid through 2022 will receive a Global Upgrade Certificate, which can be used to confirm an upgrade to business or first class on long-haul American Airlines flights.
While we aren’t expecting that particular perk to be available until later this year, American Airlines is extending an incredibly generous benefit to top-tier Alaska elites now.
I earned MVP Gold 75K as part of the airline’s status match last month, and today received an email offering two one-way “space available” upgrades on a handful of long-haul American Airlines flights.
As of now, upgrades are available on the following nonstop American Airlines flights:
- Los Angeles (LAX) and London (LHR)
- Los Angeles (LAX) and Sydney (SYD)
- Los Angeles (LAX) and Tokyo (HND)
- Seattle (SEA) and Bangalore (BLR)
- Seattle (SEA) and London (LHR)
- Seattle (SEA) and Shanghai (PVG)
As always, note that upgrades on flights from London come along with a cash co-pay to cover the additional Air Passenger Duty (APD) for premium-cabin travel. In my experience, the upgrade fee for flights from LHR is typically around $100, though it may vary as part of this promotion.
After booking an eligible flight, Alaska elites can call American Airlines at 1-800-262-7206 and provide their Mileage Plan number and the unique “access code” from their email to upgrade their flights. If an upgrade is available, it’ll be confirmed right away — otherwise, elites will be added to the waitlist.
It’s possible to confirm upgrade availability for American Airlines flights before you book. To start, head over to TPG partner ExpertFlyer and complete your search there — for example, if the “C” fare class is available, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to instantly confirm an upgrade from economy to business class.
Note that you’ll need to specifically search using the “Award & Upgrade” tool — “C” class may appear with the “Flight Availability” option, but that doesn’t necessarily mean an upgrade is available to confirm.
In the case of this particular flight, a one-way economy ticket can be had for $595, compared with $2,835 for business class — that’s a heck of a deal.
Upgrades must be requested by Sept. 30, 2021 for travel through Dec. 31, 2021. You don’t need to use the upgrade yourself — you can call in to bump up another passenger if you prefer. Basic economy, free tickets, military or government fares, “opaque fares,” infant tickets, award flights and purchased extra seats are not eligible.
As always, you’ll earn miles based on the original purchased fare — not your upgraded cabin. Still, this is a fantastic deal if you’re expecting to book one of the six eligible routes above, giving Alaska elites an opportunity to fly business class for the price of coach.
Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.