Alaska Airlines updates status match program, adds challenge component

Oct 1, 2019

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Alaska Airlines has typically had the most generous status match policy around. If you had elite status with another carrier, you could request a match to a corresponding level of status in Alaska’s Mileage Plan program, no questions asked. And October was typically the best time of the year to initiate this match, as your status would be valid for the rest of the year and the entire following year.
Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. As posted on the carrier’s status match page, Alaska has now added a challenge component for travelers looking to match their existing status to Alaska.
Today I’ll take you through what this means and how to initiate this process.

In This Post

Alaska’s new status match requirements

As of today, Alaska will still match your status from another airline, but it’s only valid for a limited, three-month window of time. After that, you’ll need to complete a certain amount of flying with the carrier. The requirements vary based on the Alaska Airlines status that you are granted, as follows:

  • MVP: 5,000 miles
  • MVP Gold: 10,000 miles
  • MVP Gold 75K: 20,000 miles

Note that these miles must be earned on Alaska Airlines-marketed flights that are operated by Alaska, Horizon or SkyWest. Codeshare flights operated by other airlines as well as those booked directly with one of Alaska’s partners will not count toward these thresholds.
If you request the match between Oct. 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 and successfully complete the above requirements within the three-month trial period, your status will be valid through the end of 2020. However, if you request the match between July 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020 and complete the requirements during the three-month trial, your status will last for the rest of 2020 and all of 2021.
In short, July is now the best time to request a status match with Alaska.

RELATED: What is Alaska Airlines elite status worth in 2019?

Alaska status match overview

These changes don’t affect the actual process for initiating a status match with Alaska. It’s still very simple — the carrier even has a dedicated page for the process. However, before you start, you’ll want to review the terms and conditions to make sure you understand the requirements. You’ll also want to identify which tier of Alaska status you’ll enjoy from your existing elite status with another carrier.
Here’s a quick chart that shows how other airlines’ elite levels will map to the three tiers of Alaska elite status for the three-month trial period:

Alaska elite tier Corresponding elite statuses
MVP Aeromexico Gold
Air Canada Altitude 25K (Prestige) and 35K
American Airlines AAdvantage Gold
Delta Silver Medallion
Frontier Elite
Hawaiian Pualani Gold
JetBlue TrueBlue Mosaic
Southwest A List
United Premier Silver
MVP Gold Aeromexico Platinum
Air Canada Altitude 50K
American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum
Delta Gold Medallion
Hawaiian Pualani Platinum
Southwest A-List Preferred
United Premier Gold
MVP Gold 75K Aeromexico Titanio
Air Canada Altitude 75K and 100K
American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum
American Airlines ConciergeKey
American Airlines Platinum Pro
Delta Platinum Medallion and Diamond Medallion
Southwest A-List Preferred & Companion Pass (must hold both)
United Platinum, 1K, and Global Services

This list of eligible elite status tiers is one of the most comprehensive out there. Many limit the published list to the major U.S. carriers, but Alaska includes others like Aeromexico and Air Canada.
Of course, if your preferred carrier isn’t listed, you can still attempt a status match using the steps below. Just be aware that it likely won’t be successful. Reports within the last two years from indicate that elite members with Flying Blue, British Airways, Japan Airlines and Turkish Airlines have been turned down.
Here are the other important details to keep in mind:

  • This is a once-per-lifetime match; once you’ve been matched, you can’t get another one.
  • A match is granted based on miles/segments flown; if you’ve been gifted elite status or earned it via credit cards or a promotional offer, you’ll likely get turned down.
  • Members who match to MVP Gold 75K don’t receive the 50,000 bonus miles that are given to members who reach that tier organically. However, successful matches to MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K will enjoy four Gold Guest Upgrade certificates after meeting the requirements of the challenge.
  • It can take up to four weeks for verification and approval, though it’s frequently much quicker.
  • It’s only valid for legal residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Again, this new program only offers Alaska elite status for a limited, three-month window. In order to keep it, you’ll need to satisfy the above flying requirements.

How to request a status match with Alaska Airlines

Once you’ve figured out what your current status will get you and you’ve decided to pull the trigger (given the terms and restrictions noted above), here are the steps to request an Alaska Airlines status match:

1. Visit Alaska’s dedicated status match page.

2. Select your elite status from the drop-down list, then click NEXT.

3. Enter your Alaska Mileage Plan number and email address, then click CONTINUE.

Note: The system will not stop you from submitting a request if you’ve already utilized a status match in the past. I was able to get to the next step, even though I matched to MVP Gold 75K in 2015.

4. Upload a screen shot of your current status, including your name, elite tier and miles flown.

This last step is critical, as your screen shot must include enough details for Alaska to verify your current status — including the fact that it was earned “the hard way” as oppose to gifted.
Once matched, you’ll receive a welcome email, though you can also check your account online to see when your request has been processed.

Final tips for a successful status match

In addition to all of the above, there are a few final reminders to help ensure that your Alaska status match is successful:

  • Don’t submit phony credentials: There are many tools these days that could allow you to doctor a screen shot to make it look like your status is higher than it actually is. While there’s a slim chance this would be successful, it’s simply not worth the risk. If Alaska determines that you’ve submitted fake account information, it could close down your Mileage Plan account entirely. Don’t do it.
  • Carefully consider the timing: As noted above, an Alaska status match is offered once over the lifetime of an account. It may sound appealing to avoid fees or unlock perks on your next flight, but once you use it, you can’t do it again.
  • Make sure you can hit the flying requirements: Alaska’s new status match program offers you temporary status for three months, and you then need to earn a set number of miles on Alaska flights to keep that status (5,000 for MVP, 10,000 for MVP Gold and 15,000 for MVP Gold 75K). Be sure you can earn those miles in the three-month period before initiating the match.
  • Make sure Alaska’s route network works for you: Finally, it’s critical to make sure that you aren’t doing a status match for the sake of getting status. Ensure that you can actually put those elite perks to use. If you’re based in the Midwest or Southeast and regularly fly to the East Coast — for example — Alaska simply isn’t a viable option, so you should consider putting your status match efforts toward an alternate airline.

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines’ old status match program is no longer, as the carrier is now requiring a certain amount of flying to keep your matched status beyond an initial, three-month trial period. This is an unfortunate change but not entirely unexpected, as the previous method clearly fell into the “too-good-to-last” category in the points and miles world. The best time to status match with Alaska is now July, though you’ll want to make sure you can hit the flight requirements to maintain your matched status for longer than three months.
Featured photo by FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

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