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All American and Alaska elites now eligible for reciprocal complimentary upgrades

Jan. 17, 2023
5 min read
Alaska American United LAX
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Alaska Airlines is making considerable changes to first-class upgrades by decreasing the upgrade window for MVP and MVP Gold members. Additionally, all American Airlines AAdvantage elite members will be eligible for first-class upgrades on Alaska-operated flights, while all Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan elite members will be eligible for first-class upgrades on most American Airlines-operated flights.

Over the weekend, Alaska discreetly posted these updates to its website. Let's unpack all the changes you need to know.

American AAdvantage elite upgrades on Alaska

Alaska Airlines first class. ALASKA AIRLINES

American's Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members have been eligible for upgrades to first class on Alaska Airlines for about a year. Now, all AAdvantage elite members are eligible for first-class upgrades on Alaska Airlines.

First class

Here's what you can expect for elite upgrade priority on an Alaska Airlines flight:

  • Alaska MVP Gold 100K.
  • Alaska MVP Gold 75K.
  • American AAdvantage Concierge Key, Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members.
  • Alaska MVP Gold.
  • American AAdvantage Platinum.
  • Alaska MVP.
  • American AAdvantage Gold members.

Premium class

Alaska also has an extra-legroom section in the economy cabin, which it markets as Premium class. In addition to 4 inches of extra legroom, Premium-class passengers enjoy priority boarding and free beer, wine and cocktails on most flights over 350 miles. To select Premium-class seats, head to with your confirmation number.

Here's the Premium-class policy for AAdvantage elite members:

  • Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro: All fares except Saver fares after ticket purchase.
  • Platinum: Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fares after ticket purchase; all other fares at 72 hours before departure.
  • Gold: Y, B or H fares after ticket purchase; all other fares at 24 hours before departure.

Related: Your complete guide to earning and redeeming with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska Mileage Plan elite upgrades on American

American Airlines first class. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Alaska's MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold 100K members currently have first-class waitlist priority on some American Airlines flights. That's how our managing editor for news, Clint Henderson, has had great success scoring American Airlines upgrades as an Alaska MVP Gold 100K.

First class

Now, all Mileage Plan elite members will be eligible for upgrades on American Airlines within the U.S. (including Hawaii) and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America. It appears the Mileage Plan elite complimentary upgrade regions are the same that AAdvantage elite members enjoy when traveling on American. These upgrades are single-cabin upgrades only.

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While there are more nuances behind American's upgrade waitlist, here's what you can expect for upgrade priority on an American Airlines flight at a basic level:

  • American AAdvantage Concierge Key.
  • American AAdvantage Executive Platinum.
  • American AAdvantage Platinum Pro.
  • Alaska MVP Gold 100K and MVP Gold 75K.
  • American AAdvantage Platinum.
  • Alaska MVP Gold.
  • American AAdvantage Gold.
  • Alaska MVP.

Main Cabin Extra

Like Alaska, American offers an extra-legroom section on its planes, sold as Main Cabin Extra. To select Main Cabin Extra seating, head to with your American Airlines record locator.

Here's the Main Cabin Extra policy for Alaska elite members:

  • MVP Gold, Gold 75K, and Gold 100K: All fares after ticket purchase.
  • MVP: You can move to a Main Cabin Extra seat within 24 hours of departure.

Related: American unveils snazzy new business and premium economy cabins at the expense of first class

MVP and MVP Gold upgrade window changes


According to its website, later this year, Alaska will start clearing MVP and MVP Gold upgrades as early as 24 and 48 hours before departure, respectively. Currently, MVP members have upgrade benefits within 48 hours of departure, while MVP Gold members can clear upgrades within 72 hours of departure.

With Alaska lowering each these windows by 24 hours, it brings its lower and mid-tier elite complimentary upgrades in line with American Airlines.

Related: What is Alaska Airlines elite status worth?

Bottom line

Alaska has announced some fairly significant changes to its upgrades. Alaska will prioritize some American elite members ahead of its own MVP elite members, and American will do the same by prioritizing some Alaska elite members ahead of its AAdvantage elite members.

If I were an MVP member with Alaska, I wouldn't be celebrating. After all, American Concierge Key, Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro and Platinum members are now higher on the upgrade list than Alaska MVP members, and MVP upgrades will now clear within 24 hours, as opposed to 48 hours in advance. That will almost certainly mean MVP members will spend less time in first class.

And while upgrade benefits on American Airlines sound nice, MVP members are the last elite members to receive upgrades on American.

We'll keep you apprised of future developments in the Alaska-American elite deal.

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.