Alaska and American improve reciprocal elite upgrade perks

Nov 9, 2021

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.

Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines made headlines for joining the Oneworld frequent flyer alliance.

Along with the move, the Seattle-based carrier also unveiled a strategic tie-up with American Airlines, offering additional loyalty perks to their best customers, and a codeshare agreement that extended beyond the Oneworld membership. Some of the added benefits include reciprocal upgrades, extra-legroom preferred seating and more.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

Now, the two airlines are working to remove much of the fine print that was included when the tie-up launched.

Namely, Alaska’s MVP Gold 75K members will now automatically be added to the upgrade waitlist starting at 72 hours before departure for American Airlines flights, as confirmed to TPG by a carrier spokesperson.

When the reciprocal upgrade benefits were introduced, those top-tier elites would only enjoy complimentary upgrades starting on the day of departure, at or after check-in.

This represents a big upgrade (no pun intended) for elites who previously needed to wait until the last minute to see if their upgrade cleared.

As a reminder, MVP Gold 75K members are eligible for complimentary upgrades when flying American Airlines within the U.S. (including Hawaii) and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America.

These upgrades are valid from economy and premium economy to the next class of service. MVP Gold 75K elites can also upgrade one companion booked on the same reservation.

Though the waitlist timing is changing, upgrade priority isn’t — MVP Gold 75Ks are prioritized after AAdvantage Platinum Pro elites on the waitlist. It’ll be interesting to see where MVP Gold 100K members land on the American Airlines upgrade list when that new tier is formally launched next year — I’d expect MVP Gold 100Ks to sit below American’s top-tier Executive Platinum members, but above the Platinum Pro level.

Along with the complimentary upgrade policy change, Alaska and American are also rolling out a new Global Upgrade Certificate valid for confirmed upgrades on long-haul American flights. Each MVP Gold 75K member that qualifies for status for 2022 will receive one of these certificates — though the timing is still to be determined. (MVP Gold 100Ks will receive two of these certificates.)

Until now, only American’s Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro elites could use a systemwide upgrade to confirm a higher cabin when flying on AA’s long-haul international flights.

For more about Alaska’s tie-up with American, read our detailed guide here.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, 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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 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®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • 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
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.