Alaska Airlines is growing. Over the past five years alone, Alaska has added over 110 new markets, and with the acquisition of Virgin America late last year, now has more than 1,200 daily flights to 118 destinations across the United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba, plus an extensive portfolio of global partners.
As a result of this growth, Alaska and American Airlines have agreed to make some changes to their partnership beginning Jan. 1, 2018. American Airlines has been and continues to be a valued partner, and many of the benefits guests have come to enjoy will continue to be available.
What’s not changing
Earn on domestic travel: You’ll continue to earn Mileage Plan miles on American Airlines flights that are booked thru alaskaair.com that have a flight number starting with airline code “AS” (In airline lingo, these are called “codeshare” flights). There are over 1,100 daily American-operated flights sold under Alaska “AS” flight numbers, including a broad range of connections beyond American hubs such as Chicago O’Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth. All American Airlines flights with an Alaska “AS” flight number earn miles at the Alaska Airlines earn rates, so you’ll never earn less than 1 mile per actual mile flown. And elite members will continue to earn elite-qualifying miles and elite bonus miles on these flights.
Earn on international travel: You’ll continue to earn Mileage Plan miles on all American Airlines flights internationally, including flights from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico, at the same rates that you earn on these flights today. Again, Mileage Plan elite members will continue to earn elite-qualifying miles and elite bonus miles on these flights. International flights will not have an Alaska Airlines flight number – they will all start with airline code “AA” and can be booked at aa.com.
Redemption: Mileage Plan members will still be able to redeem miles on American Airlines flights both domestically and internationally, to over 300 cities in over 50 countries worldwide.
Lounge access: Alaska Lounge members will still have access to over 50 Admirals Club lounges when flying on an Alaska or American flight.
So what is changing?
For domestic travel: Starting Jan. 1, 2018, you’ll no longer earn Mileage Plan miles on domestic American Airlines flights that are not marketed by Alaska, which includes all flights numbers beginning with airline code “AA”. In other words, you will no longer earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles for any domestic flights booked directly with American Airlines. The good news is that Alaska and Virgin America serve 80 percent of the top routes that Mileage Plan members have historically flown and earned miles on with American. What this means for you as a Mileage Plan member depends a bit on the location of your hometown airport:
If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, with a few exceptions, you’ll no longer earn miles on American Airlines flights out of the region. On alaskaair.com, you’ll be able to find flight options that include a combination of Alaska and eligible American-operated flights to get you where you need to go while earning your Mileage Plan miles.
If you’re in California, Virgin America is an excellent alternative for you to continue earning Mileage Plan miles to key destinations like New York, Boston and Dallas, where American flights will no longer earn Mileage Plan miles. You can book Virgin America flights at alaskaair.com.
If you’re in other parts of the U.S., you’ll still have lots of eligible American flights with an Alaska “AS” flight number to choose from in and out of Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Phoenix. As always, you can find eligible flights on alaskaair.com.
For elite members: Starting Jan. 1, you’ll no longer receive priority boarding, free bags, or preferred seating on any flights operated by American Airlines. Remember that you can now receive priority check-in, boarding, and free bags on Virgin America on many of the same routes flown by American, with access to preferred seating and Main Cabin Select upgrades coming later this summer.
Redemption: Some award levels for redemption on American Airlines international flights will be increasing, and off-peak pricing for Central and South America, and Asia will be eliminated. On the other hand, some premium cabin award levels to Hawaii and within the U.S. will be reduced, providing better-than-ever value to members. For example, a Business/First class award from the 48 states to Hawaii will go from 47,500 miles one-way to 40,000 miles one-way for flights booked on American Airlines after Jan. 1, 2018.
Despite these changes, the combination of Alaska Airlines’ larger network, portfolio of international partners, and the on-going value that American Airlines provides, remains a fantastic proposition for Mileage Plan members. For additional details on earn and redemption rates for American Airlines flights now and after Jan. 1, 2018, please visit our American Airlines partnership page.