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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.

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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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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees