American Airlines And Alaska Introduce Reciprocal Upgrades

Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance today. You still can’t use Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles for travel on oneworld carriers that weren’t already the airline’s partners before this move. But the big news of the day, I think, is the announcement that:

  • American Airlines elites will have access to extra legroom coach seats and first class upgrades when flying Alaska
  • Alaska Airlines elites will have access to extra legroom coach seats and first class upgrades when flying American

American and Alaska are closer partners than merely being members of the same global alliance. They are working together to build out West Coast travel with Alaska bringing domestic flyers to American international services and vice versa. There’s a good to tightly integrate so that customers feel their experience is more or less the same across carriers (it won’t actually be, because of differences in product and the general friendliness I’ve experienced from Alaska Airlines employees).

How American Airlines Elites Will Be Treated On Alaska

In addition to priority check-in, security and boarding and extra baggage allowances plus lounge access on international itineraries (in other words oneworld benefits), American Airlines elites will have access to Alaska’s extra legroom coach and first class upgrades.

Effective April 5, 2021, AAdvantage elites will be able to access extra legroom coach (“Premium Class”) on Alaska as follows:

  • Executive Platinum and Concierge Key: at the time of booking
  • Platinum Pro and Platinum: at time of booking if not buying the cheapest fares (so, if booked into Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fare buckets) or within 72 hours of travel on lower fare classes.
  • Gold: at time of booking on full fare (Y, B, H) or within 48 hours of travel

Executive Platinum members who aren’t booked into basic economy (‘saver’) can be upgraded within 120 hours of departure. The benefit is initially only for the elite member but will eventually extent to a companion on the same reservation as well.

American’s Executive Platinums will come behind Alaska MVP Gold 75K elites on the upgrade list, and then prioritized based on fare class and time of request.


Alaska Airlines First Class

How Alaska Airlines Elites Will Be Treated On American

In addition to priority check-in, security and boarding and extra baggage allowances plus lounge access on international itineraries (in other words oneworld benefits), Alaska Airlines elites will have access to American’s extra legroom coach and first class upgrades.

Starting April 5, 2021, Alaska’s elite members access American Airlines extra legroom coach (‘Main Cabin Extra’):

  • MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K: at the time of booking
  • MVP: within 24 hours of travel

Alaska elites are the relative winners here with no restrictions on fare class.

In addition, while American’s 100,000 mile Executive Platinums are eligible for upgrades on Alaska, Alaska’s MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members can upgrade on American domestic and short haul international flights (Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America).

However these upgrades are on day of departure at check-in only. MVP Gold 75K members can upgrade a companion on the same reservation.


American Airlines Domestic First Class

More Benefits Are Coming

Alaska has revealed additional benefits in the pipeline, and we can assume more will be coming for AAdvantage elites as well.

MVP Gold 75K members will eventually clear upgrades 72 hours prior to departure, presumably American didn’t get the tech done in time for this to happen at launch. When this occurs they will come after American’s Platinum Pro (75k tier) on the waitlist, though it’s not clear how MVP Gold 75Ks will be prioritized against each other.

Presumably when Alaska introduces its 100,000 mile tier those elites will be behind Executive Platinums, but ahead of Platinum Pro members, based on this structure although of course that’s not guaranteed.

For the 2022 benefit year MVP Gold 75K members will receive an international upgrade certificate for American Airlines travel.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. Question. If I’m an American Airlines executive platinum and I want to use my Alaska mileage plan miles to book a flight on American metal, would I be able to cancel that award flight with no penalty?

  2. I only fly Alaska Air and have for 12
    + years, bad Experiences with American years ago

  3. I am AA Platinum and got upgraded earlier today to Premium class for my Alaska JFK-LAX flight on this Friday. So there appears to be no wait to April 5th for AA Elite upgrades on Alaska flights.

  4. I don’t care what airlines are doing it doesn’t matter what matters is that countries are opening up and until that happens whatever the airlines do means nothing. Add more destinations whatever you want you need countries to open up the matter

  5. I’ve been flying Alaska Airlines for nearly 50 years, I’ve been as loyal as the day is long but had to book with American Airlines for the first time since 1974 due to circumstances, being a club 49 member and very frequent flyer you’d think I would be eligible for upgrades but apparently not, disappointed in Hawaii, Bob ..

  6. Not really interested about the intricacies surrounding elite status of any airline in the US as let’s face it, there’s nothing elite or premium offered by any US airline, whatsoever.
    Now, perhaps I’ve been distracted by other matters over recent days, but I’ve not noticed anything from the Alaska spin machine about the long-awaited joining OneWorld. I was expecting a joyous super-spin cycle of celebration and self-congratulation of former Trump-like proportions, but no, nothing really.
    So is it just baby steps for now?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.