Alaska Airlines Announces Mileage Plan Program Enhancements

a screenshot of a flight schedule
These days, it’s pretty rare to find an airline making positive enhancements to it’s frequent flyer program. Usually the “changes that you’ll like” are quite the opposite, with those takeaways packaged with a trivial enhancement just to help with the optics and packaging of the negative changes.

But it appears that Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program is making some real, substantive enhancements that will make it easier for you to earn more miles. Here is a summary of what’s changing:

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Higher Bonuses for Top-Tier Gold 75k Members

Effective January 1, 2015, Alaska’s top-tier Gold 75k members will receive an elite bonus of 125% of miles flown for travel on Alaska and all partners, which is an increase from the current bonus of 100%. In addition to the enhanced bonus, Gold 75k members receive 50,000 bonus miles upon qualification.

To qualify for Gold 75k, you need to accrue 75,000 EQM’s on Alaska alone, or 90,000 total EQM’s including partners.

Anecdotally, many people have felt that other than higher-priority upgrades, there really wasn’t much difference between the top-tier Gold 75k and mid-tier Gold status. This change certainly adds more incentive to go for top-tier status, and if I had known about these 2015 changes in advance would certainly have thought hard about it.

Higher Class of Service Bonuses on Alaska Flights

Since my travel is 100% leisure, I’m able to plan well in advance and score el-cheapo fares in the lowest fare classes. This change is most beneficial to those who can’t plan well in advance, and purchase paid First Class fares or higher fare classes.

For fare buckets F / P (First Class) and Y / S / M / B (Economy Class), you will receive an additional 25% in miles earned over what you receive today.

Change in Miles Earned on Delta

In response to some of the changes announced by Delta, Alaska will be modifying it’s mileage earning chart on Delta effective January 1st, 2015.

The changes vary greatly depending on fare class, but in general high fare classes in Economy Class as well as almost all Business and First Class fares will receive enhanced mileage earning of 25%-50%.

However, discounted Economy fares will receive a 25%-75% reduction in the miles earned, which will almost certainly make Alaska members think twice about flying Delta. This isn’t a surprise given the turf war in SEA that Alaska and Delta are embattled in.

Bottom Line

These are true enhancements in every sense of the word (well, other than those Alaska members who regularly fly Delta) and depending on your fare class and status, will increase the number of miles that you earn on a given flight by as much as 75%.

The timing of the announcement certainly qualifies as short-notice, and we would be skewering Alaska for these changes if they were takeaways, but I guess there’s a double-standard when positive changes are announced.

I’m wrapping up my Gold re-qualification this week, but the changes certainly have me thinking long and hard about another push to the 75k tier. What do you think – is it worth it?

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