Alaska Airlines awards lifetime MVP Gold at 1 million miles, and lifetime MVP Gold 75K at 2 million miles. These members will receive additional benefits:
- One million milers will get a head start on that year’s status with 20,000 elite qualifying miles, and two million milers will receive 40,000 elite qualifying miles. This helps encourage lifetime members to continue to go for higher status each year, combating one of the concerns loyalty programs have with offering lifetime status in the first place – that once you guarantee status there’s no longer a reason to strive for it.
- Lifetime elites will be able to share their status with a member of their household like United does – the household member gets the same status level as the lifetime elite (whether that is their lifetime level or an earned higher level).
- Lifetime elites are prioritized over other elites in their tier for upgrades which is the opposite of American where lifetime elites are effectively last on the upgrade list unless re-earning their status each year, since American prioritizes upgrades based on rolling 12 month total loyalty points earned.
- Personal recognition on board and on the phone, employees will be trained to recognize and thank lifetime elites. This is something that United has been doing really well.
These are all improvements to the lifetime program, and really thoughtful and strategic. It doesn’t give Alaska the best lifetime program. I believe among U.S. airlines that belongs to United. But it’s a huge improvement.
- United Airlines has the most generous lifetime elite program, with partner elite benefits for lifetime members and even allowing lifetime Global Services status after 4 million miles (not topping out at Platinum or 1K).
- In contrast, Delta offers just its Platinum-equivalent status after 4 million miles, Diamond at six million, and doesn’t offer their Global Services-equivalent 360 status as a lifetime benefit.
American Airlines has the weakest lifetime elite program, topping out at lifetime Platinum (2nd from the bottom of 5 elite tiers) and prioritizing everyone earning current status over lifetime elites for upgrades. It’s only possible to earn lifetime oneworld sapphire status, which gets business class lounge access on international itineraries in coach.
In contrast Alaska Airlines allows earning lifetime oneworld emerald (which comes with first class lounge access on international itineraries). And they allow that status to extend to a household member. As a oneworld emerald member I can only guest one person into a lounge, so my wife daughter and I cannot all use first class lounges when flying business class. In Alaska’s program my wife and I would both be oneworld emerald and could bring in a family of four.
Before the pandemic American was considering how to fix their lifetime status program. Other things got prioritized in the meantime. However hopefully Alaska’s improvements, combined with American falling clearly behind to the bottom of the pack in lifetime loyalty, will light a fire under AAdvantage. Then again, US Airways had the weakest lifetime recognition as well.
(HT: One Mile at a Time)