Guide To Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Status


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While Alaska Airlines isn’t one of the “big three” US airlines, the Seattle-based carrier has quite a robust loyalty program, which many people are loyal to. In particular, Alaska Mileage Plan is the only major US frequent flyer program that still awards miles based on how far you fly rather than how much you spend.

I figured I’d write a series about Alaska’s elite status tiers, and in this post I wanted to take a look at Alaska MVP status, which is the entry-level status of Alaska’s four published elite tiers. How do you earn MVP status, what are the perks, and is it worth it? In separate posts I’ll cover MVP Gold 100K, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold status.

How to earn Alaska Mileage Plan MVP status

Alaska Mileage Plan elite status can be earned based on either accruing a certain number of elite qualifying miles or a certain number of elite qualifying segments. On top of that, you need to fly a certain number of segments on Alaska.

Here are the requirements for the four Mileage Plan elite tiers, from the lowest to the highest tier:

  • Mileage Plan MVP status requires 20,000 elite qualifying miles OR 30 elite qualifying segments; on top of that, at least two eligible flights must be marketed and operated by Alaska
  • Mileage Plan MVP Gold status requires 40,000 elite qualifying miles OR 60 elite qualifying segments; on top of that, at least six eligible flights must be marketed and operated by Alaska
  • Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K status requires 75,000 elite qualifying miles OR 90 elite qualifying segments; on top of that, at least 12 eligible flights must be marketed and operated by Alaska
  • Mileage Plan MVP Gold 100K status requires 100,000 elite qualifying miles OR 140 elite qualifying segments; on top of that, at least 24 eligible flights must be marketed and operated by Alaska

One of the things that makes Mileage Plan great is that you can not only rack up elite miles on Alaska and its oneworld partners, but also on other partner airlines, ranging from Air Tahiti Nui, to Condor, to Icelandair, to Singapore Airlines, opening up lots of opportunities to earn status by flying with other airlines.

Note that there’s one other way to earn MVP status. With the Alaska Mileage Plan status match challenge program, you can receive MVP status for a period of 90 days, and maintain it by flying 5,000 miles during that trial period.

While there’s also an Alaska Mileage Plan million miler program, this allows you to earn higher elite tiers for life — you can earn MVP Gold status for life when you earn one million base miles, and MVP Gold 75K status for life when you earn two million base miles.

Earn elite qualifying miles with Alaska by flying with Cathay Pacific

Alaska Mileage Plan MVP status benefits

Elite status gets more valuable the higher your elite tier. So as you’d expect, MVP status only comes with a fairly limited number of perks, especially compared to higher elite tiers. Still, you can expect space available upgrades, space available extra legroom economy seating, some priority services, and more. Let’s go over the details of each of these perks, roughly in the order that I value them.

Complimentary first class upgrades

MVP members receive unlimited complimentary space available upgrades on all Alaska Airlines flights, except on Saver fares. These upgrades are only valid for the member, and not for any companions.

Complimentary elite upgrades can start clearing up to 48 hours before departure. Upgrades are prioritized first by elite tier, meaning that MVP Gold 100K, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold members, clear ahead of MVP members. Within each elite tier, the tie-breaker to scoring an upgrade is what fare class you’ve booked, with the higher fare classes getting priority for upgrades.

How often should you expect upgrades to clear as an MVP member? While there are a lot of factors, I wouldn’t expect to score all that many upgrades with this status, especially in competitive markets. That’s not to say it won’t happen sometimes, but don’t expect you’ll get upgrades anywhere close to a majority of the time.

Receive first class upgrades as an MVP member

Complimentary Premium Class seating

Mileage Plan MVP members receive complimentary Premium Class seating at the time of booking, but only in fare classes Y, B and H. For other fare types, Premium Class upgrades are available up to 48 hours before departure, subject to availability. Unlike other elite tiers, complimentary Premium Class companion upgrades aren’t offered.

Premium Class is Alaska’s extra legroom economy seating, typically in the front of the economy cabin and at exit rows, and it generally offers several extra inches of legroom. Furthermore, Premium Class offers complimentary alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine, and cocktails.

Receive complimentary Premium Class seating as an MVP member

50% status mileage bonus

Mileage Plan MVP members receive a 50% mileage bonus on flights. In other words, if a flight covers a distance of 1,000 miles and you booked a fare that earns 100% elite miles, you’d end up earning 1,500 miles for the flight.

As a point of comparison, other elite tiers earn bonuses of 100-150%, so miles don’t rack up quite as quickly as an MVP member as with other tiers.

Priority check-in, security, and boarding

Mileage Plan MVP members receive a variety of priority services at the airport, including:

  • Priority check-in, with first class
  • Priority security screening
  • Priority boarding, with Group B (this is the same boarding group as Premium Class)

Generally I think priority boarding is the most valuable of those benefits. Most people check-in online, and nowadays TSA PreCheck and CLEAR will typically save you the most time at security, rather than a priority security line.

Take advantage of priority boarding as an MVP member

Two complimentary checked bags

Mileage Plan MVP members can check two bags free of charge on all itineraries. This applies to the member and any companion traveling on the same reservation.

Checking bags with Alaska Airlines is pretty painless, thanks to the carrier’s 20-minute baggage guarantee. With this, you’re promised that your bag will arrive within 20 minutes of your arrival, or you can claim 2,500 bonus Alaska miles or a $25 Alaska discount voucher.

Receive two free checked bags as an MVP member

Reciprocal elite perks on American

Alaska and American offer reciprocal elite perks, including space available upgrades. You can potentially be eligible for first class upgrades on American, as well as Main Cabin Extra seating. The value of this obviously depends based on how much you fly with American.

Receive reciprocal elite perks on American as an MVP member

oneworld Ruby status

MVP members receive oneworld Ruby status, which is the entry-level elite status in the oneworld alliance. Unfortunately the perks of this are fairly limited, and the main benefit you can expect is business class check-in when traveling with partner airlines.

Unlike higher elite tiers, this status doesn’t offer any access to oneworld lounges. If you really want value when it comes to lounges, go for oneworld Emerald status.

Receive priority check-in as a oneworld Ruby

Is Alaska Mileage Plan MVP status worth it?

Ultimately the value of entry-level status with any major airline loyalty program is going to be marginal. On the plus side, the status is easy to earn, and requires only 20,000 elite miles in a year, which is among the lowest thresholds for any status with a US program.

MVP status offers space available first class and Premium Class upgrades, a 50% mileage bonus, and priority services. That’s better than nothing, but don’t expect that you’ll be spending most of your flights in first class as an MVP member.

If you can swing it, I do think there’s significant value to going for one of the higher elite tiers with Mileage Plan, given the huge incremental perks, plus higher priority for everything (including upgrades).

The major catch with going for status with Mileage Plan is that Alaska is a much smaller airline than the “big three” US carriers, so being loyal to Alaska takes effort. Fortunately Alaska has lots of partner airlines, making miles easy to rack up. However, you’ll generally find that you get stronger perks when you’re actually flying with the airline you have status with.

Don’t expect to get first class upgrades on most flights as an MVP member

Bottom line

Alaska Mileage Plan MVP status offers a variety of basic benefits, including space available first class and Premium Class upgrades, a 50% mileage bonus, and priority airport services. If you fly Alaska with some frequency, having status is definitely better than not having status. However, there’s a lot more value to unlock with Alaska’s higher elite tiers.

If you’re an Alaska MVP member, what has your experience been?

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