Tips from a Mileage Plan rockstar

 

If you’re wondering how to make the most of Mileage Plan and even work your way up to elite status, the best advice typically comes from those who’ve done it. We talked to two 30-year Mileage Plan members: John from Juneau, a current MVP Gold 75K, and Bruce from Portland, who enjoyed MVP Gold status for years. While neither John or Bruce felt they had any sage advice, we begged to differ.

Here are a few tips from the Alaska Mileage Plan veterans:

Stick to Alaska and its partners when traveling for business

Business travel is often outside of your control, but companies are increasingly making it possible for employees to choose their airline and/or enter their Mileage Plan number when booking flights. Both Bruce and John racked up a lot of miles traveling for business by flying Alaska almost exclusively.

You’ll always earn a mile per mile flown on Alaska, but you can earn even more than that depending on the type of fare you book.  First Class, and even certain economy fare classes earn additional bonus miles that get you even closer to elite status or that dream vacation faster.

And if your business travel takes you around the globe, booking with an Alaska Global Partner is a great way to ensure you’re still racking up your Mileage Plan miles.  Earn even faster if you book Premium Class seats internationally.  Earn rates vary by partner, but you can earn up to 3 miles per mile flown in Business Class or up to 5 miles per mile flown when you fly in First Class.

Spend more time in the air, not the airport

Neither Bruce nor John pay attention to racking up segments, though that is a way to earn elite status. Instead, John says he will look at the big picture of his trip: if there’s the option to have multiple segments but be stuck with a long layover, sometimes it’s worth it to book a longer, maybe slightly less direct route.

 

The way he looks at it: he’ll spend the time somewhere – in the airport or in the air. He’d rather spend more time on a plane, racking up miles.

Shop your way to your next vacation

Savvy members know that even if you don’t have any trips coming up, there are plenty of ways to keep your Mileage Plan balance growing.  An easy one?  Shopping! Through Mileage Plan Shopping, you can earn miles for your online and in-store shopping with over 850 participating merchants. Once signed up with Mileage Plan Shopping, you can mark stores as favorites to get alerts when additional bonus mile offers are running. There’s even a browser button you can download that will alert you when you are on a site eligible to earn miles, so you never miss out on mileage earning opportunities.

Save up miles for big trips abroad

Bruce is what you might call a Mileage Plan retiree – he had elite status for nearly 30 years and spent his miles sparingly. Now when he has more time to fly for fun, he’s using his miles to travel the globe.

He highly recommends flying an Alaska Global Partner and paying with miles. He and his wife traveled to Europe and purchased a one-way First Class ticket for around 60,000 miles, which he feels is a much better deal than paying for the ticket with cash.

 Use miles for more than flights

Alaska Airlines Hotels gives you access to more than 400,000 properties worldwide, from unique boutique hotels to major chains.  You can either earn miles for stays – up to an astounding 10,000 miles per night – or, redeem miles for all or a portion of your stay.

12 comments on "Tips from a Mileage Plan rockstar"

  1. I agree it is a problem. I tried to book Alaska to NYC area about a year ago using miles and I was doing this about 4 months in advance of the trip. The Alaska agent told me to use miles to book a trip like that I would have to do it about a year in advance! That makes it very hard, if not impossible, to use miles for certain trips. Bummer!!

    • Hello. Our team is doing everything we can to improve our partnerships with other airlines to provide more accrual and redemption options for our guests and to enable a seamless guest experience when traveling on partners (like getting the same elite benefits). we are actively working on this.

  2. I just recently learned that Budget Car Rental is an Alaska Airline Partner. I did not provide my rewards number at the time of the rental. Does that mean too bad, just be sad?Or i
    s there a way to apply rewards earned to my mileage?

  3. Do bonus miles really get applied to elite status? I’m not seeing that is happening this year.

    • Hi Laura. Class of service bonus miles do count toward elite status qualification. So for example, if you purchase a First Class ticket on Alaska, you earn 1 base mile per mile flown, and a 75% class of service bonus – that will all count toward status. Other forms of bonus miles like from double miles promos, miles earned from the credit card or other partners, or the “additional bonus” we offer on global partner Business and First Class flights do not.

  4. Alaska’s Mileage Plan is anything but global and frankly non-competitive. I have been an Alaska MVP Gold 75K (what a mouthfull) off and on over the years. However, I’ve gone back to enjoy my 1K status with United. Why? First, they are improving their services and second, the Star Alliance. Alaska does not have a good relationship with their partners and the program is NOT global or designed for international travelers. One example, is the relationship with American Airlines – no recognition by AA for AS elite customers and you can only earn credit when booking on an AS codeshare (which isn’t always available). Another example, is the relationship with British Airways. Award travel on BA is very expensive to redeem in terms of cash outlay an this is just not the case with United and Lufthansa, Swiss, SAS, TAP or Air Canada. Lufthansa and Swiss also fully recognize my 1K/Star Alliance Gold status and they know how to treat customers well.

    Alaska has also lost it’s partnerships with Delta, KLM, Air France, and Aeromexico largely due to operating under the incorrect impression that every carrier would partner with Alaska and that’s just not reality.

    The bottom line here is that Alaska is no longer the Seattle home town airline it once was since acquiring Virgin America. They are operating in a new environment with strong competition from Delta in Seattle and larger markets in the Bay Area and Southern California with much higher levels of competition than in Seattle. United, Delta and American all operate within alliances (Star, Sky Team and One World) and Alaska was able to be Seattle’s niche carrier but that is no longer the case and, in my opinion, Mileage Plan simple is of little value where partners are concerned.

    Alaska has been sitting on the fence where it’s obvious they need to saddle up and play with the big boys and join one of the alliances. They’ve been talking about a watered down version of joining Oneworld but I’m honestly not sure if that will cut it and this could negatively impact Alaska’s long term viability. Watered down is watered down and I suggest that joining Oneworld with all of it’s partners is what is needed minimally.

    Buenas suerte!

    • Hi there. Our team is doing everything that we can to improve our partnerships with other airlines to provide more accrual and redemption options for our guests and to enable a seamless guest experience when traveling on partners (like getting the same elite benefits). We are actively working on this.

    • Yes. Finding available Business or First Class seats is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible it seems. A couple years ago when we still had Delta as a partner I was actually able to find a couple Business seats. However, it took me hours and hours of searching, and ultimately a call to customer service to purchase them. I am looking at another Europe trip, would love to fly first class, isn’t that why we bank these miles? But I see no way possible unless I want to purchase mixed class, with the longest leg of the journey in coach, or spend well over $1000 required to fly on British Airways. Over the years the partner options have become less and less. I have become so disappointed with the program, I am actually looking at other mileage plan options after being a faithful Alaska member since the early 1980’s.

      • Hello. Our team is doing everything we can to improve our partnerships with other airlines to provide more accrual and redemption options for our guests and to enable a seamless guest experience when traveling on partners (like getting the same elite benefits). we are actively working on this.