American Airlines Improves Upgrade Benefit For Alaska Airlines Top Elites

Starting today, Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K members and a companion are eligible for same day space available complimentary upgrades on “500-Mile eligible short haul markets.” That is, most domestic, Canada, Mexico, Central America and Caribbean flights. Up until now they’ve been offered ‘day of departure upgrades’ at check-in, if those are available, but not added to the airport upgrade standby list.

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are offering extra legroom coach and first class upgrades to elite members of both programs. That’s part of their effort to make the partnership seamless for customers.

Alaska elites have even been given especially generous international upgrades on American and top Alaska elites get free companion upgrades, something American’s elites don’t get.

Now the upgrade process for Alaska Airlines top elites is even smoother. Alaska 75K elites are now treated as though they’re American elites for the airport upgrade list, with 75Ks and their companions ranked below American’s Platinum Pro members but above Platinum and Gold members.

  • At check-in Alaska Airlines 75K elites are automatically added to the airport PALL list for upgrade at the gate. Their upgrades are prioritized based on fare class and then time of booking. (American elite levels are prioritized by qualifying dollars earned on a rolling 12 month basis, but American doesn’t have this information for Alaska elites.)

  • They will appear on the upgrade list viewable in the app 12 hours prior to departure, just like American elites.

  • Upgrade requests are automated, added to reservations 5-10 minutes after ticketing, using a FQTZ special service request, like a systemwide or a mileage upgrade, and product code UPP.

    Upgrade opt-outs are handled with a phone call to reservations, using the same phone field opt out code as for American elites.

  • Like with American elites, any companion needs to check in at the same time or after the elite member to be eligible for upgrade.

  • Complimentary ‘day of departure’ upgrades to premium economy, on flights with that cabin, aren’t offered to Alaska elites the way they’re offered to Platinum Pro AAdvantage elites and above.

Alaska 75K elites aren’t eligible for upgrade on basic economy fares. Alaska 75K elite companions have to be in the same reservation as the sponsoring 75K member to be eligible for upgrade.

Currently if you are an elite member of either Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or American AAdvantage, you want to avoid codeshare flights operated by American, that is a flight with an Alaska Airlines flight number on an American Airlines plane. Here’s a grid showing how upgrades work between the two airlines, based on elite level and flight type:

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, 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 »

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  1. “ Currently if you are an elite member of either Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or American AAdvantage, you want to avoid codeshare flights operated by American”

    Only caveat I would call out for Alaska elite in the above situation is you would potentially forego earning more miles, since booking AS marketed flights will earn according to AS chart which will get you 100% base miles for all coach buckets

  2. What’s the best way to buy the tickets? Do you buy tickets on AA, then put in your Mileage Plan number or do you buy the tickets on Alaska but put in your AA number.

  3. Today just flew AA from MSP to ORD then AS from ORD to SEA
    There are bugs still in the system at AA
    When I checked in the AA system did not
    Put me on the upgrade list
    The ticket counter agent had to manually and I was # 8 on the list
    Last Sunday I flew AA from ORD to MSP and did not get on the AA upgrade list and there were 2 seats open and at boarding the system upgraded 2 non revenue people because the agent did not know how to
    Add AS 75 k golds
    Sad this was a last minute booking also
    I’m a 75k / million miller and don’t think I’ll be taking any more AA flights

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