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Alaska and American improve reciprocal elite upgrade perks

Nov. 09, 2021
3 min read
Alaska Airlines Airbus A321
Alaska and American improve reciprocal elite upgrade perks
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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.

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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 image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases