Early December Alaska Airlines award flights became eligible for complimentary upgrades for all elites, in addition to regular, revenue tickets. Alaska Airlines also sells upgrades, however those were already available for purchase on award tickets (that is if all elites on the flight were already upgraded and additional space was available).
United Airlines already provided this perk to elite members of MileagePlus, provided they also held a United co-branded Chase credit card. Alaska, however, doesn’t require their elite members to maintain a Bank of America Alaska Airlines credit card (however, many elites still do have one). While complimentary upgrades on United Airlines and other major U.S. carriers are notoriously hard, upgrades for Alaska Airlines elites are fairly easy on most west-coast routes, where Alaska has a lot of flights. Complimentary upgrades, however, are harder on Alaska’s transcontinental flights.
I fly Alaska Airlines about 20-30k miles per year (mainly from Seattle to Los Angeles or San Francisco) and while many of those flights are awards (for 7.5k British Airways Avios), I found myself purchasing more of those flights this year since a one-way from Seattle to Los Angeles is usually $50-60 USD, if purchased in advance.. so I obviously would rather spend that amount of money than to use my Avios. So I became an MVP Elite with Alaska Airlines a few months ago.
A week ago, I booked a BA Avios award for travel on Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Los Angeles for 7.5k points. I booked it last minute and the revenue price was upwards of $250, so I figured redeeming Avios is a better option in this case. I knew that Alaska Airlines was already allowing complimentary upgrades on award tickets, so I decided to add my Mileage Plan number to the reservation and see if I had a chance. Sure enough, the “First Class Waitlisted” message appeared on my booking after adding my number.
Two days before the flight, I got an email from Alaska saying I was upgraded. Well.. I wasn’t expecting that.
Being upgraded on an Alaska Airlines award ticket.. issued by British Airways… as a lowly MVP elite… is kind of awesome. I wasn’t expecting many upgrades on revenue tickets as an MVP, let alone an award ticket. When I booked the flight, First Class was half-full and I figured that there were other elites in front of me (and even MVPs on revenue tickets), and there would be no way I’d get upgraded… and I did.
I’m starting to like Alaska more and more… Being upgraded on an award ticket is always awesome and now that Seattle to San Francisco flights cost just 5k Alaska miles is amazing… and the fact that you can be upgraded on those flights as an MVP is even better. Now we shall see how they integrate Virgin into their operations…