I fell in love with Alaska and Alaska Airlines after moving to Anchorage in 2002. AS traditionally does very well with customer service and that is no better demonstrated by their long-time policy of upgrading any elite to fill the First Class cabin. I keep nerdy track of my upgrade percentage every year 2018-74%, 2019-37%, 2020-78%, and 2021-73%. That is mostly just at Gold status and is definitely higher than any other airline, even when I was a UA 1K for ten years. Now I hope to improve that even more with my elevation to Alaska’s newest elite tier 100K.
This new elite level is generally thought to be in response to AS joining OneWorld and needing to have an equivalent tier to American’s Executive Platinum. Historically, AS didn’t establish even a 75K tier until just about five years ago since they mainly catered to flyers in the Pacific Northwest and not a ton of long haul routes. Partner airlines could count in the total miles, but then the requirements were raised if you counted them, so 75k miles on AS or 90K miles if you included miles from partner programs. The benefits were already pretty good at 75K and most people wondered what else they could offer. Let’s take a look at that.
Going to the front of the line for upgrades is probably the biggest benefit for me. I seem to always be just on the cusp on getting upgrade as a 75K. Usually making it, but it is usually just before boarding. I hate sitting at number one on the upgrade list (as opposed to number 18 on the UA list?) but still have good success as noted in the percentages listed early in the post. Hopefully, my upgrade percentage will be close to 100% as no other elite will be in front of me unless they paid more for their ticket or booked earlier. Next behind me will be AA Exec. Platinums, so staying at 75K would mean having two groups of elites in front of me. What about other gifts for this new status?
75Ks got a 125% bonus on miles and unlike the other major airlines, these miles are still awarded on distance, not dollars spent, which makes it super easy to rack up tons of AS miles. Most bloggers consider these the most valuable miles of any airline due to the ability to redeem on some 23 fantastic partners such as Cathay Pacific, Qatar, Icelandair, and formerly Emirates. My wife and I have received great value on these partners over the years, although I have to say that Emirates will be sorely missed. Now 100Ks will get 150% on all fares. Nice!
For several years now Gold and 75Ks received a free drink – sometimes two – and a small snack. While I would have preferred to get one of the new snack boxes for free, I can’t complain about what they are offering to 100Ks
This is one of the new benefits for both 75Ks and 100Ks with 75Ks getting one and 100Ks getting two. I have heard great things about AA SWUs as opposed to the UA GPUs that I found extremely hard to use (needed to buy a W fare to even have a chance at an upgrade). Given where we are with international travel, I am fine with not receiving these until Q2. Hope to use them this summer and report back.
Happy to see the additional perks and hopefully more upgrades. How hard was it to qualify for 100K this year? Not hard at all given the “rollover” EQM and what ended up being a year long 150% bonus to EQM as shown below.
Requalifying this year will be a lot harder, but they made one thing easier and that is counting partners. Now there is only one amount for each level so taking a few long haul flights on AA or other partners should get my wife and I well along to another 100,000 miles. These new benefits will be evaluated closely to see if going for 100K again is worth it. Have four AS flight next month and will see what kind of difference this new status means!