Last-minute elite strategies for Alaska Mileage Plan status

With less than two months left in 2023, now is the perfect time to check your frequent flyer mileage balances, calculate your travel earnings for the rest of the year, and pinpoint where exactly you will end up regarding qualification requirements by Dec. 31. If you think you might not hit your goal, the good news is that there’s still time to do some major mileage-earning before the end of 2023. In this guide, we will focus on last-minute strategies to qualify for Alaska Airlines elite status.

Here is what you need to know about Alaska’s MVP program, including qualification requirements, tier benefits, and ideas for earning the status you want for another year.

Some background

Alaska Airlines is the only major U.S. airline that doesn’t have a revenue requirement for earning elite status. All you have to do is earn the required number of elite qualifying miles or elite qualifying segments required for your desired status tier. You also need to take a minimum number of segments on Alaska-operated flights.

Here’s a look at what each status tier requires:

– MVP: 20,000 elite qualifying miles, 30 elite qualifying segments, minimum of 2 Alaska segments
– MVP Gold: 40,000 elite qualifying miles, 60 elite qualifying segments, minimum of 6 Alaska segments
– MVP Gold 75K: 75,000 elite qualifying miles, 90 elite qualifying segments, minimum of 12 Alaska segments
– MVP Gold 100K: 100,000 elite qualifying miles, 140 elite qualifying segments, minimum of 24 Alaska segments

This makes earning Alaska elite status easier than other airline statuses if you frequently fly cheap economy tickets on Alaska or its partner airlines. However, more expensive tickets may offer bonus elite qualifying miles, which can accelerate your progress toward reaching status.

Last-minute earning strategies

Here are a few ways to rack up more elite qualifying miles to cross the finish line to your desired elite status tier before time runs out.

Maximize your routing

If you already have MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, or MVP Gold 100K status, you’re in luck. Alaska’s generous same-day flight changes policy lets you request a same-day confirmed flight change at any time during the check-in window. Your new flight must depart on the same calendar day as the original departure, but you can change your routing to include additional layovers.

This is useful because you will earn more elite qualifying miles on longer routes. For example, instead of flying nonstop from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and earning 2,311 EQMs, you could fly from Washington to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and from there to Los Angeles for 3,282 EQMs. Or, to earn even more EQMs, add an extra segment from Seattle to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and end up with 3,507 EQMs total.

Status matching

If you don’t already have elite status with Alaska but do have elite status with another airline, this might be your best option for attaining elite status quickly. If you qualify, you’ll receive temporary status with Alaska based on your current tier with a competitor.

To keep your new Alaska status after the promotional three-month period, you’ll need to fly the following number of miles on flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines:

– MVP: 5,000 miles
– MVP Gold: 10,000 miles
– MVP Gold 75K: 20,000 miles

Alaska makes this process simple, with a page of publicly available information where you can select your specific status with a competitor from a list of eligible programs and upload your credentials directly.

Buy elite miles

In the past, Alaska has offered flyers the opportunity to purchase elite miles or status outright or to buy back up to their status level. The offers vary by individual, but you can check out forums like FlyerTalk to see how you might be able to get in touch with a Mileage Plan agent and what you can expect when you do.

While prices in the past have been expensive, if you’re within striking distance of MVP Gold 75K and the 50,000-mile bonus you get upon achieving that level, this could be worth it.

Elite leave for new parents

Are you running behind on elite status because of a new bundle of joy that’s curtailed your travel lately? Alaska Airlines has an “elite leave” policy for new parents that allows travelers to extend elite status for another year during their pregnancies or parental leaves.

To take advantage of this benefit, you’ll need to email the airline once you return with your full name, date of birth, Mileage Plan number, and proof of pregnancy or parental leave, such as a note from your doctor or employer. If approved, the airline will presume you will have qualified for elite status in the year in which your parental leave ends and will extend it through the following year.

Mileage-run scenarios

Though time is running short, you might still be able to maximize your mileage earnings during 2023 to achieve elite status with Alaska. That’s because, unlike other major airlines, Alaska Airlines has no minimum spending requirements for elite status.

Here are a couple of ideas to help you along the way.

1,000 EQM short: Alaska is generous in that, whether you have elite status or not, you earn a minimum of 500 EQMs on flights. That means you can take two short hops and hit the mark. For example, you can spend just $133 and a few hours on a Saturday flying between Seattle and Spokane International Airport (GEG), Washington, for 1,000 EQMs. Or spend $166 to fly from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) for a few days for the same 1,000 EQMs.

5,000 miles short: The easiest way to fill this gap is to seek low-cost transcontinental flights from the West Coast to the East Coast. These routes will be more expensive than short-haul flights, but prices are usually reasonable enough to justify a quick trip to keep elite status.

10,000+ miles short: If you’re well short of your goal, you still might be able to earn 10,000 or even 20,000 EQMs this year. The simplest way would be to book two back-to-back transcontinental flights since you could complete each in a day or two and end up with around 10,000 EQMs. But that’s a lot of time flying in narrow-body jets to destinations you may have already visited. If you want to qualify in one fell swoop, consider flying one of Alaska’s many airline partners on a cheap long-haul flight. Just know you’ll probably be flying intercontinental, so consider making a vacation of it.

Segments: If your mileage-run strategy involves earning segments instead, you can use Google Flights’ multicity search to piece an itinerary together. Given Alaska’s extensive short-haul route network in the Pacific Northwest, if you’re based in a hub like Seattle or Portland, you can maximize your segment count on quick flights within the region.

In conclusion, with less than two months left in 2023, now is the time to strategize and make a final push to earn elite status with Alaska Airlines. Whether it’s maximizing your routing, taking advantage of status matching, buying elite miles, or planning mileage-run scenarios, there are still opportunities to reach your goal. By following these last-minute strategies, you can ensure that you end the year with the elite status you desire and enjoy the benefits that come with it.

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