Alaska Announces Changes and Enhancements to Mileage Plan Benefits Alaska Announces Changes and Enhancements to Mileage Plan Benefits

Alaska Announces Changes and Enhancements to Mileage Plan Benefits

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Since the recent confirmation of Alaska’s purchase of Virgin, the biggest question on all of our minds has been what this will mean for earning and redeeming miles. We now have a pretty clear picture of the answer. Let’s cut to the chase with the biggest question that’s been going around: What will the conversion rate be between Alaska and Virgin America?

What Will the Conversion Rate Be Between Alaska and Virgin America?

The answer Each Elevate point will get you 1.3 Mileage Plan miles. With the 1:1 transfer rate between SPG Starpoints and Elevate points, this means you will also have the option of getting 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per SPG point. You'll be able to convert your Elevate points beginning January 9, 2017.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Logo

Changes and Enhancements Alaska Has Announced Today

Alaska Award Flight Cost Reduction

One of the most significant changes is a reduction in the starting price of award flights on Alaska Airlines. The largest reduction is on interstate flights of less than 700 miles, for which the starting price has dropped from 12,500 miles to 5,000 miles each way.

Here are the new one-way Mileage Plan mile costs of the lowest award tier, organized by distance:

  • Under 700 miles (intrastate): 5,000 Mileage Plan miles (previously 7,500)
  • Under 700 miles (interstate): 5,000 Mileage Plan miles (previously 12,500)
  • 701 to 1,400 miles: 7,500 Mileage Plan miles (previously 12,500)
  • 1,401 to 2,100 miles: 10,000 Mileage Plan miles (previously 12,500)
  • 2,101 or more miles: 12,500 Mileage Plan miles (no change)

Other Changes

Earning rates for miles in Business or First Class have gone up by “up to 80%” on international flights with Alaska’s partner airlines. Unfortunately, Alaska is pretty vague on the details here except to provide a handful of examples. The most promising of these is an example Business Class Qantas flight from San Francisco to Sydney, which would previously have earned 11,126 miles and would now earn 25,960 miles.

As we mentioned in our previous post on the subject, you can now earn Mileage Plan miles for Virgin America flights.

Mileage Plan elite members may now receive complimentary upgrades on award travel on Alaska Airlines flights (not Virgin America or other partner flights). Some fares are eligible for immediate First Class upgrades, with the type of fare qualifying depending on your elite status, as follows:

  • Y, S, or Z for MVP members
  • Y, S, Z, B, or M for MVP Gold members
  • Y, S, Z, B, M, or H for MVP Gold 75K members

Interesting Timing?

The timing of these enhancements lines up with Alaska's breakup with Delta. Frankly, the news of losing Delta can really be hit or miss depending on your personal travel habits, and while losing a partner isn't desirable, you've got to give Alaska credit for stepping up their game with these enhancements.

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