American And Alaska Airlines Expand Elite Upgrades

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have a closer relationship than just being partners in the oneworld alliance. They are working together to build out West Coast travel with Alaska bringing domestic flyers to American international services and vice versa.

Elite frequent flyers in each airline’s program have benefits like extra legroom seats, not just the usual priority check-in, baggage and boarding benefits. And for nearly two years upper tier elites have been able to upgrade when traveling on the other airline.

Now, quietly – neither airline has sent out an announcement – the upgrade benefit has been extended to more frequent flyers.

  • Alaska MVP and MVP Gold members are now eligible for American Airlines complimentary upgrades. Previously this was available only to MVP Gold 75K and 100K members.

  • American Airlines Gold and Platinum members are now eligible for Alaska Airlines complimentary upgrades. Previously this was available only to ConciergeKey, Executive Platinum, and Platinum Pro members.

American and Alaska have continued investing in their partnership, even though the buildup of Seattle as an Asia gateway for American (replacing Los Angeles) hasn’t yet really borne fruit. They had plans for Seattle – Shanghai and for Seattle – Bangalore but to date neither flight has happened.

Still, last year the two airlines made the upgrade process easier by fixing the issue where elites couldn’t upgrade when traveling on a codeshare flight (e.g. an American Airlines flight with an Alaska Airlines flight number). Their partnership progresses, while we wait for a trial verdict to see whether the federal government will hand United and Delta a win in New York and Boston by limiting American’s partnership with JetBlue.

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