SidebySide Airline Program Comparisons
From FlyerGuide Wiki
Below you can view an overview of two airline programs, side-by-side.
To change the displayed programs, click on the "Edit" link above and follow the instructions provided within.
American has a three-tiered elite structure -- Gold, Platinum, and Executive Platinum. To achieve Gold, a member must fly 25,000 base miles each year, Platinum 50,000, and Executive Platinum 100,000. In the event an elite member does not maintain the threshold each year, their status will go down one level (i.e., ExPlat to Plat and Plat to Gold), unlike other airlines which drop you to the base membership level.
Elite members can also upgrade themselves AND a traveling companion within their upgrade window -- meaning that if a Gold member and an Executive Platinum member are traveling together, both can upgrade at top level together if seats are available; unlike other airlines which only allow day of travel upgrade for companions, if any at all. Upgrade windows are 24 hours for Gold, 72 hours for Platinum, and 100 hours for Executive Platinum. Key point to note -- elite members can upgrade on ANY fare purchased directly from American or AA.com.
Elite passengers traveling on a full Y, B, or M fare can receive complimentary domestic upgrades. This is also extended to their traveling companion on a full Y, B, or M fare. Executive Platinum members may receive complimentary domestic upgrades on any fare.
Special Note -- American is the ONLY airline that allows upgrades on any fare for international travel systemwide (American Airlines planes only). This includes Web Fares.
Multiple opportunities to redeem miles on other partner carriers. First Class International seats turn into 180 degree flat seats that you can sleep in. Few airlines have flat sleeper seats.American dominates Latin America and flies to many Hawaiian Islands directly.
Upgrades on domestic/international flights are capacity controlled. American lacks a presence in the Northwest part of the United States. American has a small number of international flights. More cities should be added such as Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Athens, etc. AAdvantage does not offer complimentary upgrades on domestic flights like Delta, Continental, or Northwest. American knows it is the 800-pound gorilla and, therefore, the airline doesn't give any breaks on upgrades or eliminating the $100 change fees. Admirals Club charges high annual fees and charges for drinks, unlike Continental and Delta.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan (Edit)
Even with reduced earning and recently raised redemption levels, Mileage Plan's earning and redemptive partners are so diverse as to allow opportunities even to flyers outside of the western US. Recent expansion into markets such as Boston, Miami, Atlanta, both major Washington, D.C. airports, Denver, and more destinations in Mexico have only increased the attractiveness of the program. In addition, Alaska Airlines traditionally offers double mileage promotions for extended periods following new route introductions, as well as other profitable promotional opportunities throughout the year. Alaska has been innovative and historically on the forefront with convenient features such as instant-ticket kiosks, web check-in, and in-flight wi-fi (through Aircell Gogo) for most of their Boeing 737 fleet.
Alaska's Mileage Plan has three elite levels -- MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K. Alaska added the MVP Gold 75K level in 2010 to recognize their most active customers. Qualification is based on a calendar year, and elite status can be earned through either miles or segments. Shorter flights earn a minimum of 500 qualifying miles per segment. The MVP level requires 20,000 actual flight miles on Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, and MVP Gold qualification requires 40,000 miles. Qualification for any Mileage Plan elite status can also be earned by flying a combination of Alaska and specific partners. A total of 25,000 partner flight miles or 30 segments will earn MVP status, and 50,000 flight miles or 60 segments will earn MVP Gold status. MVP Gold 75K can be reached by flying 75,000 Alaska/Horizon miles, 90,000 partner miles, or by completing 90 partner segments in a year. MVP members earn a 50% bonus on Alaska, Horizon, American, Air France, Delta, LAN, and KLM flights, while MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members earn a 100% bonus. In a move that emulates long-time partner Northwest, Alaska is augmenting their paper upgrade certificates with unlimited automatic upgrades based purely on status. Achieving MVP Gold 75K status comes with several benefits not offered at the MVP Gold level, including an immediate lump-sum credit of 50,000 miles in the member's account, and a free digEplayer rental on every flight that offers them (normally a $6-$14 charge, depending on flight duration).
Partners: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Partners Alaska is not a member of any airline alliance, but has instead formed direct partnerships with several regional, domestic, and international carriers, including members of oneworld and the SkyTeam alliance. Mileage Plan members can earn miles toward Alaska elite status on qualifying partner flights operated by the following carriers: Air France, American, Delta, KLM, and LAN. Flight activity on other partner carriers will earn Mileage Plan miles that do not count toward elite status: Air Pacific, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Era Alaska, Iceland Air, Kenmore Air, Korean Air, PenAir, and Qantas.
Mileage Plan members enjoy a wide network of partner airlines on which to redeem award miles, offering almost unlimited opportunities for world travel. Booking award travel on Alaska and Horizon flights is done through the same Alaska reservations site used for paid travel. Alaska has also expanded the selection of domestic and international partner flights that can be booked online through the Mileage Plan award reservations site. Partner flight upgrades, additional destinations and routing options can be explored by calling the Partner Desk (1-800-307-6912). Mileage and coupon-based pgrades are redeemable on all published Alaska fares, including Web Specials, and to any destination including Mexico and Canada. For MVP Gold members, upgrades are confirmable at time of ticketing and they can also upgrade one traveling companion. Upgrade coupons issued to MVP Gold members can be used by friends and family traveling separately. Service charge and ticket change fees for Alaska Air and Horizon Air flights are waived for MVP Golds, as is the initiation fee for the Board Room, Alaska's airport lounge. Board Room members flying on a Delta ticket are also allowed access to Sky Clubs. Alaska Mileage Plan elite members are also eligible for a first class upgrade when flying Delta, a result of Delta's acquisition of Northwest Airlines, which had a similar agreement with Alaska.
The Alaska Airlines fleet consists entirely of Boeing 737s, so first-class cabins are relatively small, with either 12 or 16 seats. Competition for first-class upgrades can be fierce, especially on routes in and out of Alaska, where there is an abundance of MVPs and MVP Golds, and also on popular leisure travel routes to Mexico. Despite the ease and availability of booking Alaska Airline award travel, partner awards, especially for international travel, can require a lot of flexibility as to flight dates and times. Many international destinations served by Alaska partners do not appear on the partner award reservations site, and the site does not allow one-way or open-jaw international award flights, so a call to the partner desk is often unavoidable.