Coming Soon: Alaska & American Airlines Reciprocal Elite Benefits Including First Class Upgrades From April 5, 2021

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With Alaska Airlines now being a oneWorld members and the carriers partnership with American Airlines going strong again, elite members are soon eligible for reciprocal benefits (including upgrades to First Class) starting Monday, April 5th 2021.

Mileage Plan elite benefits on American Airlines – in addition to the oneWorld Priority benefits will include complimentary access to select extra legroom seats as well as for the MVP Gold 75K members exclusive complimentary upgrades when traveling on American.

The partnership between Alaska Airlines and American is nothing new but it had paused for a few year before being rekindled in advance of Alaska joining oneWorld, implementing reciprocal elite treatment that goes above the usual oneWorld partner benefits for Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald.

You can access Alaska Airlines website here for a detailed description of the new program.

We are excited for Alaska Elite members flying on American Airlines to enjoy these new benefits. It may take 1-2 days for the necessary updates to enable these new benefits for your flights departing on or after April 5.

Details are as follows:

Extra legroom seating

Mileage Plan elite members have complimentary access to select extra legroom seats – known as Main Cabin Extra seating – on American Airlines flights.

No fare class restrictions apply, but seating is subject to availability. There is no waitlist for Main Cabin Extra seats.

Upgrades on American Airlines

MVP Gold 75K members are eligible for complimentary upgrades when traveling on American Airlines flights. Upgrades are within the U.S. (including Hawaii) and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America (based on availability). Upgrades are valid from the Main Cabin or Premium Economy to the next class of service.

These complimentary space-available upgrades are for MVP Gold 75K members and 1 companion booked in the same reservation on the day of departure, at or after check-in. Flights must be on American marketed and operated flights.

If an upgrade is available on your flight, you’ll have the opportunity to opt-in during check-in via aa.com or the American Airlines App.

Sometime this year there will be even more benefits for Alaska Elite’s flying American:

Coming soon – even more upgrade benefits

Domestic upgrade enhancements

Later in 2021, MVP Gold 75K members will be automatically added to the upgrade waitlist for eligible American Airlines flights and eligible to clear as soon as 72 hours prior to travel. MVP Gold 75Ks will be prioritized after AAdvantage® Platinum Pro members on the upgrade waitlist.

International upgrades

Also, coming in late 2021, MVP Gold 75K members qualifying for status for 2022 will receive an upgrade certificate valid for travel on eligible American Airlines international routes. Look for more details this Fall.

These international certificates should really carry some value once the international routes become accessible again and people can go traveling.

American Airlines AAdvantage elites are also able to secure additional benefits on Alaska Airlines.

Our West Coast International Alliance gives AAdvantage® elite status members access to even more benefits when flying on Alaska Airlines. This includes the benefits you enjoy when flying on Alaska as a member of the oneworld® alliance.

American has prepared a chart to outline all the benefits members can enjoy:

In addition to oneworld® benefits, AAdvantage® elite status members have access to additional benefits as part of our West Coast International Alliance, including Premium Class seats and – for AAdvantage® Executive Platinum members – upgrades to First Class.

First Class on Alaska Airlines features their most spacious and comfortable seats, plus quilted blankets on longer flights, a larger tablet for free entertainment and more.

An upgrade will be requested for you once your reservation is ticketed. Keep in mind:

  • Your upgrade will be confirmed as early as 120 hours before departure, if available.
  • Alaska Airlines Saver Fares (booked in ‘X’) aren’t eligible for elite upgrades.
  • Executive Platinum members will be prioritized after MVP Gold 75K members in fare class order and then by request date and time.

You’ll receive an email when your upgrade is confirmed if you booked your trip with Alaska Airlines. Visit alaskaair.com to reserve your seat in First Class.

If you booked your trip with American or another booking source, you can check the status of your upgrade on alaskaair.com using your Alaska Airlines confirmation code. If your upgrade has been confirmed, you’ll see it there.

Find your Alaska Airlines confirmation code (also known as a record locator) on your booking confirmation email. If you booked your trip through American, you’ll find it when viewing your trip on aa.com or the American app.

If you’re not upgraded right away, Alaska Airlines will keep checking for upgrade availability – up to 1 hour before your flight.

You must check-in at the airport with an Alaska Airlines agent or at a kiosk if your upgrade is confirmed before check-in and Alaska is the operating carrier for the first flight of your trip. You won’t be able to check-in using alaskaair.com or the Alaska Airlines app.

According to previous announcements these domestic upgrade benefits weren’t to be expected until later in the year so I’m surprised this is being rolled out within the first week of Alaska’s oneworld membership.

Conclusion

I’m still expecting many more changes to this upgrade reciprocity program over the year especially when Alaska is introducing their new 100k tier level.

This partnership is definitely beneficial especially to top tier elite members of Alaska Mileage Plan and AAdvantage. They will benefit from their tier level on the partner carrier and when flying Alaska even wipe the second highest partner tier off the upgrade list. When flying American, Alaska MVP75k’s get processed AFTER Platinum Pro so it’s a bit more tilted toward Executive Platinum’s right now. Again lets wait until Alaska introduces their 100k tier and see if there are amendments.

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