American And Alaska Advance Partnership, Reciprocal Elite Status Earning Starts Today

Alaska Airlines is planning to join the oneworld alliance and is scaling its partnership with American Airlines back up. Here’s some inside scoop on why American had been cutting ties with Alaska, and how they changed their mind.

The rejuvenated partnership continues to build even in difficulty times. A week ago they announced that you can now earn redeemable miles credited to one airline when traveling on the other. This did not yet extend to earning elite status miles. Only a week later that changed and the partnership now includes both redeemable miles and elite status miles.

Reciprocal Mileage Earning

You can now earn American AAdvantage miles for travel on Alaska Airlines and vice versa.

If you buy a ticket for travel on American Airlines, and credit the miles to an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account, this chart tells you how to calculate the miles you’ll earn – it’s based on the distance flown multiplied by a factor based on the type of fare you have. Notably American Airlines basic economy fares do not earn any miles with Alaska.

If you buy a ticket for travel on Alaska Airlines, and credit the miles to an American Airlines AAdvantage account, this chart tells you how to calculate the miles you’ll earn. It is similarly based on the distance flown multiplied by a factor based on the type of fare you have.

Reciprocal Elite Status Earning

Crediting American Airlines flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan will earn you the same number of qualifying miles as redeemable miles.

Crediting Alaska Airlines flights to American AAdvantage is.. more complicated. You’ll earn a different number of qualifying miles than redeemable miles, and you’ll earn qualifying dollars as a percentage.

Overall most customers who have Platinum status or less on American should probably credit to Alaska. That’s because:

  • Alaska miles go farther, under their current award chart
  • Alaska status will still be recognized on American
  • Alaska status is easier to earn, with no minimum spend requirement

Of course do the math for each specific flight to see where you’re better off crediting miles.

I wrote that Alaska Airlines almost certainly has to devalue their program because of their new American Airlines partnership. It almost had to be a requirement of doing the deal with American.

However the current coronavirus crisis makes it exceptionally tough for Alaska to do just that. I wonder if we’ll get the best of both worlds, a continuing generous Mileage Plan program and the ability to earn Alaska miles and status while traveling on American’s (hopefully once again) larger route network.

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. So if you fly AA and have status with AAdvantage, but credit the miles to Alaska, you’ll lose benefits like early boarding, free bags, MCE etc?

  2. Is your college or university or work shut down and your favorite Spring break beach closed? Some (irresponsible) people may choose to “hunker down” by taking advantage of the non-stop American Airlines flights between Los Angeles and Miami for $20 each way. You can enjoy an excellent selection of free in-flight movies, some complimentary airline snacks, and beverages while flying on a super-clean and almost empty wide-body aircraft. Just hop on the next flight to return. Lather, rinse and repeat. As a bonus, you can now earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles on any American Airlines flight, which helps you attain MPV Gold75K elite status on Alaska Airlines. This can be your best opportunity to earn airline elite status at a bargain price.

  3. Any word on whether AA will honor Alaska elite benefits? Like give Alaska elites access to AA’s “preferred” coach seats and priority boarding? I know lots of people chase upgrades and such, but if you’re flying AA domestically, all you really need to be reasonably comfortable is AA gold status. If Alaska status now provides that on AA, it will make a lot of Alaska loyalists happy.

  4. @ken
    Be careful, the miles you earn now in-between AA & AS are base miles only, they are not EQM. We have to wait to see when they will also earn EQM. Also, you have to make sure the fare you get is a qualifying fare. It seems like some cheap fares like basic eco are not earning anything at all.

  5. @Beau. The $20 American Airlines flights were real. Due to the high demand for passengers desiring to achieve airline elite status and breathe HEPA filtered aircraft air from six miles above our COVID-19 infected planet, today, ticket prices have more than doubled to $43.

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) writes, “The overall risk of contracting a disease from an ill person onboard an airplane is similar to that in other confined-areas with high occupant density, such as a bus, a subway, or movie theatre for a similar time of exposure. anywhere where a person is in close contact with others.”

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