This week I had my first experience applying American Airlines Executive Platinum status benefits to a flight operated by Alaska Airlines and it included a super early complimentary upgrade to First Class.
Reciprocal benefits between American AAdvantage & Alaska Mileage plan (including upgrades for top tier elites) were announced in April of 2021 as the two airlines rekindled their close cooperation.
Both American and Alaska were close for many years through their “West Coast Alliance” including extending elite benefits to each other, not including upgrades back then.
In the meanwhile Alaska Airlines has also joined oneWorld but there are still many kinks in the system including members being unable to redeem their miles for all oneworld airlines and routes. I still wonder why Alaska pushed so hard for joining the club that quick compared to first ironing out all the issues that prevents all member benefits being available.
As I’m about to join my Alaska Cruise from Seattle this week I took advantage of Celebrity Cruises offer to get a connection flight and take advantage of the US$100 discount, resulting in my flight from Las Vegas to Seattle being just US$0.94 (price before discount being $100.94).
This was offered both online and over the phone but I decided to call in to make sure it’s being booked into a booking class that’s eligible for elite benefits such as premium seating and upgrades (X class, their lowest fare class is not eligible).
The agent mentioned it’s G class so that’s totally fine and I was surprised that Celebrity is apparently able to get G class at a price that’s being sold under X class on Alaska Airlines own website. Then again cruise lines typically get special conditions with airlines such as being able to book fares that always include baggage and being able to be changed against a fee.
Last Friday, 5 days prior to my flight I already received my upgrade confirmation email from Alaska Airlines:
This was right on the 120 hour mark so I’m extremely surprised that Alaska actually runs AAdvantage Executive Platinum upgrades that efficiently (while American itself seems to be hit and miss these days).
As a reminder these are the benefits that AAdvantage Elites get on Alaska:
I typically don’t like early morning flights but I checked the cabin availability on Expertflyer prior to booking and First Class was still wide open for the 7am flight compared to the 10:30am and 12:10pm connections. I’m not sure the upgrade would have been successful on these flights so 7am it was, especially for 94 cents.
I really like to fly Alaska Airlines and never had a bad flight with them over the years. Used to fly them pretty regularly between Los Angeles and Vancouver but this route appears to have vanished from the network which is surprising given that they used to have like 5 connections each day that were always busy.
I’m still expecting some more changes to this upgrade reciprocity program over the year especially when Alaska is introducing their new 100k tier level.
This upgrade experience was rather smooth and pleasant, I can’t remember when I last received an upgrade notification exactly on the outer mark of the possible upgrade window. Kudos to Alaska for this. When I did my online check-in First Class was booked FULL.
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.