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Alaska Airlines changes how you earn elite status with partners

Dec. 10, 2020
4 min read
Alaska Airlines changes how you earn elite status with partners
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As 2021 approaches, airlines and hotels are in the midst of updating their elite-status requirements for next year.

On Thursday, Alaska Airlines became the latest carrier to modify its thresholds for those hoping to earn Mileage Plan status in 2021 for the 2022 program year, per an update to the carrier's dedicated webpage.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that Alaska isn't actually lowering the thresholds to earning status in 2021, despite demand that's predicted to remain at historic lows. However, the carrier is making changes to how you earn status via partner flying.

Earning one of Alaska's three elite levels in 2021 for 2022 will require the following number of miles or segments:

MVPMVP GoldMVP Gold 75K
Miles earning on Alaska and partners20,00040,00075,000
Segments flown on Alaska and partners306090

Alaska's annual qualification period is between Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, so any flights taken between those dates will help you towards earning Mileage Plan status.

Interestingly, in 2021, earning Alaska status from partner flying will require the same number of miles as if you exclusively flew with Alaska. However, as part of the move, the carrier is adding a new minimum number of segments flown on Alaska to earn to requalify for status, as follows:

MVPMVP GoldMVP Gold 75K
Minimum number of Alaska flights to earn status246

Alaska's new model for earning status from partner flying is quite different than in years past. Previously, you could exclusively fly partners, credit your flights to Alaska and enjoy the perks of elite status — all without ever flying an Alaska flight.

Going forward, that won't be possible. Even if you hit the qualifications through partner flying, you'll need to fly two (or more) Alaska flights to earn status.

The carrier is making these changes as it gears up to join the Oneworld alliance on March 31, 2021.

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In preparation for the big day, Alaska and American Airlines have already unveiled an even deeper integration of their elite status perks.

Related: Alaska frequent flyers have a lot to look forward to in 2021

Once the partnership launches, Alaska’s top-tier MVP Gold 75K members will have access to international long-haul upgrades on AA – though specific details of how that will work have not yet been revealed. Additionally, MVP Gold 75K and Gold members will enjoy complimentary extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra seats for free at the time of booking. (All Alaska elites will be eligible for complimentary Preferred seats positioned at favorable locations within the cabin.)

On Thursday, Alaska also announced the new Oneworld tier mapping for its three levels: MVP will become Oneworld Ruby, MVP Gold will become Oneworld Sapphire and MVP Gold 75K will become Oneworld Emerald. It also recently announced new earning opportunities with Qatar Airways — with more news likely on the way soon.

On a whole, Alaska is taking a different approach to its elite status tracks for 2021. Both American and United have already announced reduced qualifying thresholds to hit status next year.

While demand for flying will likely remain at reduced levels throughout 2021, Alaska isn't making it easier to earn status in 2021.

Not yet, at least.

In June, Alaska announced a 50% elite-qualifying mile promotion for the second half of 2020, providing flyers with a fast track to status. Though the promotion is slated to end on Dec. 31, I wouldn't be surprised to see it extended or reintroduced at some point in 2021.

Featured image by GC Images

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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