You can now earn credit toward American elite status on all Alaska flights

Apr 9, 2020

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American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are moving quickly to embrace their new partnership, which was made official in mid-February 2020. The partnership will include domestic codeshares, reciprocal elite benefits and Alaska’s intention to join the Oneworld alliance in the summer of 2021.

On April 1, TPG broke the news that American and Alaska had launched full, reciprocal mileage-earning on domestic and international flights. AAdvantage members are now able to earn miles on all flights operated by Alaska Airlines, whether marketed by American or Alaska. Previously, AAdvantage members earned miles only when booked on an Alaska Airlines flight ticketed with an American flight number. Additionally, Alaska members are now able to earn Mileage Plan miles on all American-operated flights, as opposed to just international ones.

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Per the original announcement, Alaska Mileage Plan members would earn elite-qualifying miles on all American Airlines flights, while American AAdvantage members would only earn elite-qualifying credit on Alaska-operated flights marketed by American (in other words, booked with an American flight number). However, as pointed out by a user on FlyerTalk, American has since updated its mileage accrual chart to indicate that all Alaska-operated flights now count toward AAdvantage elite status as well.

Here’s the updated mileage accrual chart for Alaska-operated flights when credited to your American AAdvantage account:

As a reminder, the earning rates for crediting American flights to Alaska Mileage Plan are as follows:

Note that although Alaska Saver fares (fare code X) — Alaska’s version of basic economy — are eligible for mileage accrual and elite credit with American AAdvantage, American Airlines’ basic economy fares (fare code B) are not eligible for any accrual with Alaska Mileage Plan.

Related: Alaska Airlines extends elite status, companion certificate validity due to coronavirus

Although it might be disappointing for Alaska Mileage Plan members that they will not be guaranteed at least 1 award mile per direct mile flown on American flights as they are on Alaska flights, American AAdvantage members should be pleased with their earnings on Alaska flights. Overall, the earning rates for American Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) and Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) are quite generous, especially for those traveling in Alaska first class.

Unlike American’s own flights, which typically award miles and EQDs based on the fare of your ticket, American calculates how much you’ll earn for Alaska flights based on the distance traveled. As a result, if you’re able to score a cheap Alaska ticket, you’ll likely earn more award miles and EQDs than if you flew that same route on American — though you may earn fewer EQMs. This is especially useful considering American Airlines slashed its Special Fare shortcut and cut elite status-earning potential from Barclays cards in late 2018.

Bottom line

The Points Guy does not recommend any nonessential travel at this time, but those chasing American and Alaska elite status have a lot to look forward to once the coronavirus pandemic passes. Those after American status may be able to earn it more economically from now on, while those with Alaska status will have new benefits to look forward to, such as Oneworld lounge access.

Even while you’re grounded during the pandemic, there are a number of ways you can earn Alaska miles and American miles for future trips, by using online shopping portals for your online purchases and dining rewards programs for your takeout ordersYou can also consider adding a new credit card to your wallet to boost your account balance as you consider future travel plans. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, for instance, is currently offering a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in your first three months of account opening and offers perks like 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, restaurants and gas stations; a free checked bag, and preferred boarding.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.   

For more on the American-Alaska partnership, see:

Featured image by Katherine Fan/The Points Guy. 

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