How Do Alaska Airlines MVP First Class Upgrades Work? (2021)
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alaska Airlines makes it easier to achieve the MVP elite status this year 2021. I was able to attain Alaska MVP status for the first time. Being upgraded to the First Class seats is one of the popular benefits when it comes to the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan elite status.
I had a flight with Alaska Airlines that allowed me to put the MVP status to the test in terms of seat upgrades and waitlist requests. If you are new to Alaska MVP status, I’ll try to walk you through on How Do Alaska Airlines MVP First Class Upgrades Work in this article.
First of all, it helps to understand that, Alaska Airlines has three (3) Mileage Plan elite statuses:
MVP Gold 75K
This article focuses mainly on the MVP status and First Class Upgrades on Alaska Airlines. If you are looking for the MVP Gold Guest First Class Upgrades, you may want to check out this post instead.
How to Earn Alaska Airlines MVP?
You can earn Alaska Airlines MVP elite status through the following ways. The annual qualification period is January 1 – December 31, and your earned status will be good through the end of next year. For example, if you reach MVP this year 2021, your MVP status is good until December 31, 2022, of next year.
Alaska Airlines Elite Status Related to COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alaska made it easier for you to obtain elite status for 2022:
Earn 50% more Mileage Plan elite-qualifying miles (EQM) for Alaska Airlines flights through September 30, 2021.
No registration is required.
Any elite-qualifying miles earned between January 1, 2020, and April 30, 2020, were rolled over to 2021.
Alaska Airlines Elite Status Standard Qualifications
Earn 20,000 qualifying miles earned on Alaska Airlines, oneworld Alliance, and Global Partners.
Qualifying miles vary by the fare classes and class of services you fly.
Earn 30 eligible segments flown on Alaska Airlines, oneworld Alliance, and Global Partners.
If your flight has a connection, for example, from A-B-C destination, that’s counted as 3 segments.
Please note that Alaska Airlines requires at least two (2) flights operated by Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air for any above qualifications via eligible miles or segments.
Alaska Airlines Status Match and Challenge
Alaska Airlines also offers a status match challenge after you request a status match from another airline’s frequent flyer program.
To apply for Alaska Airline Status Match, you need to provide the following information:
Select the other airline program that you want to match the status to the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program.
Log into your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account if you are not logged in.
Upload a screenshot of your other airline’s frequent flyer elite account showing your first and last name, current status, and your miles flown year-to-date or miles flown the prior year.
Click on the Submit Screenshot button and wait for Alaska Airlines’ review.
Once your status match request is approved, your new status will be valid for 90 days. If you wish to keep that status beyond 90 days, you will need to fly 5,000 miles to keep the MVP status. For more information and details, you can access the Alaska Airlines official status match and challenge page here.
How Do Alaska Airlines MVP First Class Upgrades Work?
There are three types of seat upgrades when it comes to Alaska Airlines elite status upgrades:
Complimentary upgrade window for discounted fares
Complimentary upgarde window for nonrefundable awards
Fares that qualify for an immediate upgrade
Complimentary upgrade window for discounted fares
For Alaska Airlines MVP, the upgrade is not instant. Meaning you will have to go through a waitlist request until your upgrade window opens which is 48 hours before departure. When the upgrade window opens, the Alaska Airline system will prioritize the upgrades in the order of fare class booked and elite tier group. In other words, any Alaska Airlines elite members that have higher status than your MVP status will be able to get the seat upgrades cleared before you do.
Moreover, as the MVP member, you will need to buy eligible discounted fare tickets. The easiest way to remember this is to simply avoid the Saver fares (booked in X class of service) because those fares are not eligible for elite upgrades. The Main fares are eligible. Here’s the fare class order provided by Alaska Airlines: H, K, M, L, V, S, N, Q, O, G, T
If you are not used to reading airline’s fare class codes, with Alaska Airlines after you add the flight to the cart, you will be presented with your flight summary. Under the flight number, you will see the fare class letter code. See the screenshot below.
Alaska Airlines Fare Classes
It’s worth noting that placing you on the MVP upgrade waitlist process is automatic. Alaska Airlines’ system will automatically start the upgrade process 48 hours before your flight’s departure. However, if your reservation contains a companion whether he or she has Alaska Airlines elite status or not, your reservation will not be automatically placed on the waitlist. More below on how to add the upgrade request for at least two passengers on the same reservation.
Complimentary upgrade window for nonrefundable awards
The nonrefundable awards wording here is a little bit confusing. When you use Alaska Airlines miles to redeem for a flight, the non-refundable award ticket here refers to the lowest fare class for an award ticket that’s subject to the standard Alaska Airlines award cancellation policy.
Generally speaking, if you book an award ticket that is the lowest fare class, you will be placed on a waitlist request. Last I checked, Alaska Airlines does not have award tickets for their Saver fare (X class of service). So all award ticket fares qualify for the MVP upgrade waitlist request. The rule is the same as you were to buy a discounted fare tickets as mentioned above.
Fares that qualify for an immediate upgrade
As you know by now, Alaska Airlines MVP members do not receive instant First Class upgrades. If you do not want to be placed on the upgrade waitlist to sit in First Class and wait for your request to be cleared, this is especially true for popular flights such as Hawaii flights when it is almost impossible to get upgrades cleared, you can purchase a ticket that is booked right into an eligible fare for immediate First Class upgrade. Those fare codes for MVP immediate upgrades are Y or B fares.
How to search for Alaska Airlines fares that qualify for an immediate upgrade?
Provide your search parameters and under the Upgrades & discounts, select MVP as an upgrade type.
Click on the Find Flights once you are done.
A couple things to note:
Sometimes, immediate First Class upgarde does not mean a good deal. If you look at the screenshot below, you see that the immediate First Upgrade for MVP members costs $499 whereas the regular First Class ticket costs only $209. So watch out for that!
If you purchase the qualifying Y or B fares and upgrade space is available on your flight, you will be upgraded immediately. However, if there are no upgrades available, you will be placed on the upgrade waitlist and cleared when an upgrade becomes available.
Alaska Airlines MVP Immediate Upgrade
How Do Alaska Airlines MVP First Class Upgrades Waitlist Work & How to Request It?
As an Alaska Airlines MVP member, If you book an eligible Alaska fare and you are the only person on the reservation, you do not have to do anything. Alaska Airlines’ system will automatically place you on the First Class upgrade waitlist request, and then automatically starts the upgrade process 48 hours before your flight’s departure. If there’s upgrade space available, you will be upgraded automatically. Continue checking into your flight like you normally do (24 hours before departure).
Editor’s Tip: If you want, 48 hours before your flight’s departure, you can also perform a search for your Alaska Airlines flight(s) and see if First Class seats are still available for purchase. This way you have an idea of whether your request will likely get cleared or not.
However, if your reservation has a companion traveler, you will have to reach out to Alaska Airlines customer service for help. Whether the companion has Alaska Airlines elite status or not, your reservation will NOT be automatically processed. You will need to contact Alaska Airlines so that they can manually add in the upgrade request for you. This is because Alaska Airlines MVP status does not allow you to take a companion for upgrades even if your companion is an MVP also.
Here’s how you would request MVP First Class Upgrades Waitlist for multiple passengers on one reservation:
48 hours before your flight’s departure, text Alaska Airlines at 82008
You can also call Alaska Airlines customer service too at 1-800-252-7522.
Twitter agents cannot help and will just tell you to contact customer service.
If you want, 48 hours before your flight’s departure and before reaching out to Alaska Airlines, you can also perform a search for your Alaska Airlines flight(s) and see if First Class seats are still available for purchase. This way you have an idea of whether your request will likely get cleared or not.
Give the agent your confirmation number and let the agent know the reason you contact them for.
Alaska Airlines agent will know what to do and will manually add in the upgrade request for you. It is good to be proactive about this because the upgrade window opens 48 hours before departures for MVP members so that you don’t have to wait until your check-in time or at the gate. The best part about this is the agent may be able to clear your upgrade request right away too when they are in the process of helping you out.
Do Alaska Airlines MVP First Class Upgrades Work With Alaska Famous Companion Fare Code?
Yes. The Alaska famous companion fare that’s earned from the Alaska Airlines Credit Card can be used in conjunction with the Alaska Airlines MVP First Class Upgrades.
When you search for an Alaska Airlines flight to purchase, put in your Compare Fare code before clicking the Find Flights button. You will see the companion fare is applied accordingly on the result page. Avoid the Saver fares because those tickets are not eligible for MVP First Class Upgrades.
Keep in mind also, when you travel with a companion on one reservation, the MVP First Class Upgrade waitlist request will NOT be done automatically. You will need to contact Alaska Airlines to manually do this for you. See the above section How Do Alaska Airlines MVP First Class Upgrades Waitlist Work & How to Request It?
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