The Perks of Alaska MVP on American Airlines
The Perks of Alaska MVP are far more useful than one might think. Yes, you get priority check-in, screening, boarding, free checked bags and bonus miles while traveling on Alaska Airlines. Not only do these benefits apply while traveling on Alaska Air; they also apply when traveling on American Airlines. Almost every single benefit that comes with being MVP at Alaska Air carries over to American Airlines. This includes priority access, free checked bags, and access to preferred seating.
Unfortunately, the extent of these partnerships benefits can often be lost on an airline’s website, cluttered deep in the “Elite Benefits” tab. I’ll make this a little more straightforward; this is what you can expect when traveling on American Airlines as an Alaska Airline’s elite.
Alaska Airlines MVP Benefits…
According to Alaska Airlines (and my own personal experience) this is what’s to be expected when traveling on flights operated by Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air:
- Recieve 50% bonus Mileage Plan miles
- Priority Check-in
- Priority Boarding
- Priority Security Screening
- Free Checked Bags
- Preferred Seating
- First Class upgrades
- Dedicated customer service (via telephone)
I can vouch for Alaska Air here, everything they claim they offer to their MVP elites, they do. You’ll receive bonus miles and priority services on the ground and in-flight. Alaska Airlines does a great job caring for their elites–no matter how low they are on the elite totem pole.
What’s not as clearly defined is the benefits MVP. MVP Gold, ad MVP 75K elites receive on partner airlines. What makes this uncertainty even worse is how these benefits vary from one partner airline to the other. Here’s what I’m able to clear up.
When Alaska Airline’s MVPs Fly on American Air…
When Alaska Airline’s MVPs fly on American Airlines, here’s what they can expect in terms of elite benefits:
(American Airlines benefit is followed by Alaska Airlines equivalent benefit in parenthesis)
- Priority AAccess/(Priority check-in, security screening, boarding)
- Priority AAccess allows Mileage Plan elites to use First or Business Class check-in counters, Premium or Express TSA security lines, and board when “Priority Access” is called
- Preferred Seating/(Preferred Seating)
- Complimentary for all elite tiers on Alaska Air
- Complimentary Main Cabin Extra/(No Alaska Airlines equivalent)
- Free Main Cabin Extra seating (up to 6” of extra legroom) for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K
- Free Checked Bag(s)/(Free checked bags)
- 1 free checked bag for MVP, 2 free bags for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K
- 50 % Bonus Miles/(Bonus Miles for MVPs)
- 100% for MVP Gold and 125% for MVP Gold 75K
Pretty much every MVP elite benefit carries over from Alaska Airlines to American Airlines. With the rampant mileage devaluation and benefits being stripped from elites, it’s difficult to see the silver linings. For those of you who are still skeptical, here’s how my MVP status helped me on a recent flight from Jacksonville to San Juan, PR.
Flight #1; Jacksonville to Miami
My morning began at 2:45am. My flight to Miami would board at 4:30am and depart at around 4:50am. The flight was operated by American Eagle with an Embraer 145. There are 50 seats arranged in a one-two configuration. On the Embraer 145, nearly seventy-five percent of the 50 seats are either preferred or Main Cabin Extra seating. Nearly every single seat is either preferred or Main Cabin Extra while the majority of aisle seats on the opposite aisle are entirely preferred seating. Without my MVP status, I would have been able to choose from a select few seats located at the rear of the aircraft or I could pay $12 to $14 for a seat up-front.
While on the ground I benefited from Priority AAccess. I didn’t take advantage of priority screening because I have TSAPre but I did get access to priority check-in and priority boarding. I also earned 50% more miles with Alaska Airlines.
I initially decided to reserve seat 2A hoping that 1A would eventually free up. If 1A didn’t open up I would wait till check-in time to reserve an exit row free of charge. Luckily, 1A did free up.
Note that MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K receive Main Cabin Extra free of charge and don’t have to wait till check-in time to receive Main Cabin Extra for free. All MVP statuses open up American’s “Reserved for elite and full fare customers” though these seats can vary to a middle seat closer to the front or a window in the back.
Flight #2; Miami to San Juan
My elite benefits were truly useful on my second economy cabin flight. Miami to San Juan is only a two-hour flight, however, the aircraft was an older Boeing 737 without any in-flight entertainment.
On this leg I paid $14 to upgrade to Main Cabin Extra, specifically, seat 15A which is arguably the best seat on the entire plane. I had ample legroom, an open seat next to me, and priority benefits. I do regret paying the $14 surcharge as it turned out that both exit rows went unsold until ten minutes prior to boarding. Essentially, I could have had 15A for nothing if I would have waited. I did, however, avoid the $3 upcharge when I switched to 15C at check-in. Again, I earned 50% more miles at Alaska Airlines.
Priority boarding also came in handy. I arrived at the gate five minutes prior to the scheduled boarding time, however, boarding had begun and group 2 was well on their way. I used the Priority AAccess lane to bypass the grueling line that snaked around the gate area.
It might appear that airline loyalty programs don’t have much to offer anymore. Airlines continue to devalue how much points or miles are worth and American just announced plans to go revenue based. I still managed to find some good in my programs. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are two pretty good friends and that means added benefits for passengers and elites.
It’s important to note that if you’re traveling on American, your elite status at Alaska Air is valued on American. The same applies for AA elites, if you’re elite at American, your status is valued on Alaska Air. Just make sure to enter your correct loyalty information the next time you fly.