With its entry into Oneworld imminent, Alaska Airlines is offering a status match opportunity for members of its rival US airline programs, which may be of particular interest to Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite members who have also earned United Silver status as a side-benefit.
Moreover, Air Canada’s very own Aeroplan Elite Status members may request a status challenge with Alaska Airlines as well, which gives you 90 days of the corresponding Alaska MVP status with the ability to renew it with your qualifying activity.
Either way, Alaska MVP status will parlay into Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald status come March 31, so it’s worth paying attention to these opportunities if you’re in a position to take advantage.
Alaska Airlines “Come Back for the Status Match”
Until April 15, 2021, Alaska Airlines is putting on a promotion known as “Come Back for the Status Match”, which allows any elite member with Delta, Southwest, or United to match their existing status to Alaska MVP status.
Your MVP status would be valid through the rest of 2021, and you’d have to fulfill the usual qualifying criteria if you’d like to extend your status beyond this year.
The process is very straightforward: simply select the existing status level that you’d like match from, and upload a screenshot of your rival frequent flyer program’s dashboard showing your existing status.
In my case, I had chosen to match from my United Premier Silver status, which I had earned as a complimentary perk of my Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status thanks to Marriott and United’s reciprocal status partnership.
I went ahead and submitted a screenshot of my United dashboard…
…and received my confirmation of Alaska MVP status after just over a week’s time.
The terms and conditions of the status match offer do state the following:
This limited time status match offer expires on April 15, 2021 and is only offered to members who have achieved elite status for 2020 or 2021 through actual flight miles or segments in a Delta, Southwest and United Airlines loyalty program. Status granted based on credit card activity, transferred points, or any other promotional offer is not eligible for a status match.
However, it’s plainly obvious from my screenshot that I had zero flying activity on United over the past few years, having earned United Silver status as an ongoing perk of Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite.
And yet, I was granted Alaska MVP status without issue, so it would appear that these terms aren’t very strictly enforced; rather, Alaska simply takes whatever status for which you can provide a screenshot at face value.
Now, Alaska MVP status isn’t very useful to me as someone who’s never actually flown with Alaska Airlines before.
Since I’m moving to the West Coast soon, I do hope to fly with Alaska Airlines at some point in the future when I embark on transborder travels again, and perhaps I’ll have a chance to leverage my status for some priority services and preferred seat selection when the time comes.
But here’s where things get more interesting: with Alaska joining Oneworld shortly, Alaska’s MVP status levels will each correspond to an equivalent Oneworld status as well.
My Alaska MVP status would grant me Oneworld Ruby status, which offers similar priority airport services on all Oneworld airlines around the world – although not quite the more powerful status benefits, such as access to business class lounges and extra baggage allowance.
Even though Oneworld Ruby status isn’t much to write home about (especially if you book business class flights anyway), you just never know when your status might become useful when you least expect it.
For example, if I’m flying with a Oneworld partner airline on a relatively short flight where I couldn’t find award availability, I might choose to book a cash fare in economy class, and my Oneworld Ruby status would certainly come in handy.
If you’re a Marriott Titanium member who hasn’t yet registered for your free United Silver status and then requested a match to Alaska MVP status, I’d definitely consider doing so before April 15.
And if you’re close to achieving Titanium status, the opportunity to participate in this status match might just compel you to bring forward your mattress-running timeline under the current Double Elite Nights promotion.
(Of course, if you can demonstrate proof of your hard-earned Delta Diamond Medallion or United 1K status, then those would offer you an even more powerful status match to Alaska MVP Gold 75K status, and in turn, Oneworld Emerald status. You’d then be able to enjoy access to some of Oneworld’s best First Class lounges around the world on your travels throughout 2021.)
Alaska Airlines’s Ongoing Status Challenge
If you have status with another airline outside of Delta, Southwest, or United – say, Air Canada’s Aeroplan Elite Status – then you can participate in a different ongoing offer for a status challenge to Alaska MVP status.
Under the status challenge, you’re bumped up to the equivalent Alaska MVP status to your existing status for a 90-day period, during which you can enjoy MVP status benefits while you complete the necessary qualifying activity to earn MVP status for a longer period.
From Aeroplan Elite Status, Alaska Airlines offers the following equivalencies:
- Aeroplan 25K and 35K members would match to Alaska MVP status
- Aeroplan 50K members would match to Alaska MVP Gold status
- Aeroplan 75K and Super Elite members would match to Alaska MVP Gold 75K status
Your newly-minted Alaska MVP status would be valid for the first 90 days after your status challenge request is processed. During those 90 days, you’d need to fly 5,000, 20,000, or 30,000 miles on flights operated by Alaska Airlines in order to retain status beyond the initial period.
How long do you get to keep your Alaska MVP status for? That depends on when you started the status challenge:
Once you’ve met the challenge by flying the miles needed to maintain your level, your status will extend beyond the first 90 days like this:
Start your status match by the end of June and meet the challenge to keep your status through the end of the calendar year.
Or, start your status match between July–December and meet the challenge to keep your status through the end of next year.
Therefore, if you have Aeroplan Elite Status and were interested in leveraging it for Alaska MVP status (and thereby Oneworld status), it’d be optimal to submit your status challenge request later in 2021.
Not only will it be more feasible to complete qualifying activity on Alaska Airlines when travel has opened up to a greater extent later in the year, but you’ll also retain your Alaska MVP status and Oneworld status through to the end of 2022.
Note that it isn’t possible to opt for both the Delta/Southwest/United status match and the 90-day status challenge in the same year. The terms of the former state the following:
A member who receives a status match through this offer may not request another status match for 2021 under any other offer.
Therefore, having matched to Alaska MVP from United Silver already, I won’t be able to take advantage of the ongoing 90-day status challenge until 2022.
I’m hoping that Air Canada introduces some ways for us to more easily achieve or retain Aeroplan Elite Status this year, given the circumstances. Then, I’d look to take part in the Alaska MVP status challenge if it’s still around by late 2022, with a view to potentially mileage-running my way to an extended period of Alaska MVP and Oneworld status through the end of 2023.
Reminder: Alaska Airlines Joining Oneworld on March 31
In about a week’s time, Alaska Airlines will officially join the Oneworld airline alliance, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to recap what we can expect from an Alaska Mileage Plan redemption perspective.
As reported by Gary from View from the Wing, Alaska has committed to making no alterations to their existing partner award charts (including fellow Oneworld members like Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines) as of March 31. They’ve also committed to offering members at least 90 days’ notice of any changes to existing award charts.
At the same time, Alaska has indicated that partner redemptions on all Oneworld airlines (outside of their existing partnerships) won’t be fully online until the summer of 2021.
Those timelines seem to line up suspiciously well, don’t they?
I’d wager that Alaska may announce upcoming changes to their existing partner redemption charts shortly after their entry into Oneworld, with the implementations taking place in the summer of 2021 at the same time as all other Oneworld awards are brought online under new award charts.
There are two notable exceptions to this:
- Alaska has announced that Emirates First Class awards will be ending after March 31, 2021. If you’d like to book an Emirates First Class Extravaganza (or just a regular Emirates First Class flight, if you aren’t crazy enough to go for three flights for the price of one) with Alaska miles, you have just over a week left to do so.
- Alaska and Qatar Airways have launched a special partnership above and beyond their shared presence in the Oneworld alliance, and have committed to introducing reciprocal mileage redemptions as of March 31, rather than waiting until the summer.
Aside from these changes, I’d expect all other changes to Alaska Mileage Plan redemptions (for better or worse) to be announced shortly after March 31, and to take effect no sooner than July 2021.
Alaska Airlines is offering a status match opportunity from Delta, Southwest and United, which can be parlayed into Oneworld status in 2021 thanks to the airline’s imminent entry into the Oneworld alliance.
Marriott Bonvoy members who hold or are close to earning Titanium Elite status should look to take advantage before April 15, since you never know when an extra status card in your portfolio might come in handy along your travels.
Simultaneously, there’s the ongoing Alaska MVP status challenge that may be of interest to Aeroplan Elite Status members, although the wise move would be to wait until later in 2021 and see how the status landscape for both Air Canada and Alaska Airlines plays out before committing to this one-time opportunity.
As March 31 approaches, we’ll be keeping a close eye on Alaska’s movements in terms of MVP status translating into Oneworld status, immediate new redemption opportunities on Qatar Airways, and upcoming new and transformed award charts for the remaining Oneworld airlines.