So how did AS MP go for fellow 2017 newbies?

Old Dec 3, 17, 3:47 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: SFO
Programs: AS MVP75, Marriott Titanium, AA Plat, UA Silver, DL Silver
Posts: 464
So how did AS MP go for fellow 2017 newbies?

Thought it would be fun to discuss how AS has been for the cohort of us that joined this year given the last of the big3 going rev-based and the AS-VX acquisition drawing in bay area flyers. I status matched from AA EXP last year and have previously been UA 1K and AA CK/EXP.

I am SFO-based, 150K bis, typically discount paid domestic F/int'l J. This year flew 6x tatl, 1x tpac, 6x transcon, 3x HI, plus CA, WA and midwest.

- Mileage accrual: the mileage accrual has been amazing due to partnerships and bonuses. For TATL, it will suck to lose AF/KLM, and for BA I will no longer get free seat assignments as my AA EXP is expiring end of Jan. Still imho AS MP is the absolute best program for crediting discount J TATL/TPAC.

- Domestic redemptions: can be tough due to dynamic pricing - the mileage-based accrual is offset by Delta-style dynamic pricing for redemptions which I have seen reach 90K for an intra-CA RT. Still if you shop wisely it's great - I got a friend SAN-HNL-SAN for 36K.

- International redemptions: will be good until international carriers start to make their redemptions insane like Korean and Emirates already do. CX clearly will be next. Figure we have 1-2 years left here. The rules around one ways, stopovers, open jaw, etc. are great and like the old days.

- Y: I don't fly it much but from what I can see the pricing is competitive.

- F: This has been discussed in many other threads. I am flying a lot of UA, DL and AA domestic F because their pricing is often far cheaper than AS, even compared to MVP75 y-ups. I hope that there will be MVP75 y-up opportunities on ex-VX flights after the full integration. And that AS gets their F pricing competitive, especially versus lieflat ex-SFO. I only need to credit 1/2 of my bis miles to AS to quality for MVP75 but still AS this is my preferred program and I would like to fly more domestic AS. In 2018 I only flew ~20K bis AS miles and it could easily have been 60K if not for pricing.

- Upgrades: I typically shop for discount F and y-up so haven't had to upgrade a flight. Trying to upgrade SFO-PVR-SFO for 2 in March let's see how that goes! From posts here sounds like transcons are really tough to upgrade.

- Credit card: Great card for buying AS tickets, and the 2:1 combined with GGU/MVP75 y-ups can get you 2 people to HI RT in F for $400/each.

- Customer service: Overall worlds better than UA and AA in every regard: call centers, gate agents, flight attendants.

So how did it go for you? How do you think you will fly next year? Do you think AS wanted to attract your kind of flyer when they bought VX?

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Old Dec 3, 17, 4:09 pm
  #2  
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and i thought i was sitting on too many miles at 151,000
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Old Dec 3, 17, 5:57 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: YVR
Programs: AS MVPG
Posts: 112
First year as AS MVP Gold. Based in BOS/PVD, but had somewhat frequent travel to the west coast. Have about 33k BIS AS miles, and will qualify for MVPG on 50k/partners here in the next week or so. Have been really impressed with the customer service on the MVPG line, especially when last minute issues/delays come up. Have received several upgrades, which are nice, and using the GGU + BOA companion fare paid off amazingly for upcoming holiday travel.

Downsides: the AS terminal at BOS is terrible, but I usually just chill in the lounge then clear the C40-42 security a few min before boarding begins. The loss of AA for domestic travel will hurt next year, as they accounted for a bunch of my partner miles this year. Still need to think about 2018 strategy.
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Old Dec 4, 17, 11:04 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Programs: AS MVP Gold 75K, Marriott Lifetime Titanium
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I moved to Seattle in 2016 and the switch from AA to AS has served me very well. I matched from AA PLT to AS MVPG, then re-qualified for MVPG by April. I'll make 75K next week with a trip to Boston. The mileage accrual rates have been very nice. I've used some and saved a lot. Finding award seats has been relatively easy and reasonably priced. I was able to get a friend RT TPA-SEA on short notice for 40K miles, and my son o/w BZN-SEA-BOS for 30K with 24 hours notice two days before Thanksgiving. I've no complaints there. Most of my travel has been SEA-<east coast>. I've had one upgrade all year on those routes. My one trip SEA-OKC was upgraded outbound only. So the upgrade success is poor, but really no different than on AA as a PLT. The GGUs are a very nice perk, even though they can be quite difficult to use. I was able to get a RT BNA-SEA for my son for two GGUs and $380, and I used one for myself SEA-BNA for Christmas. But other than that, they've been difficult to use. I'll probably lose one to expiration at the end of the year.

Last edited by WillTravel4Food; Dec 5, 17 at 9:26 am
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Old Dec 4, 17, 9:26 pm
  #5  
 
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Not a Single flight you’ll be booking for 2018 travel before eoy? Easy to book something and just change later.
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Old Dec 5, 17, 9:28 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Originally Posted by flyupfrnt View Post
Not a Single flight you’ll be booking for 2018 travel before eoy? Easy to book something and just change later.
My work travel is odd with using gov't fares. We reserve early, to get the lowest fare, but the ticket doesn't get purchased until five days before the outbound flight. At that point there's nothing available for GGUs. I have no personal travel planned yet for 2018. But now you have me thinking.
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Old Dec 5, 17, 2:52 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 116
Moved to PDX from MCO this year, and I've reached MVP Gold from flying home to take care of the move/seeing family. I like AS a lot, and have gotten bumped to F every time I've flown since attaining MVP because I tend to fly strange routes in off-peak times. I'll continue to do most of my flying on Alaska for the foreseeable future.
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Old Dec 5, 17, 5:17 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Anchorage, AK
Programs: CO - Onepass Gold Elite--> UA - MileagePlus Gold Premier--> Silver --> AS - MileagePlan MVPGOLD!
Posts: 708
I'm glad you've posed this question, because it's made me think about the subject, and work my way through what I've experienced.

Having status matched at the end of the year, and been so excited about it, I've now encountered the less-than-unicorn reality of life with Alaska Airlines.
So on that note, I'll list the negatives first:

1. IT platform is terrible.
While not as useless as Virgin America's app (want to book a ticket? tap here to go to our website, and totally invalidate the existence of our app!), Alaska's app is NOT as powerful as United's. But what really gets me is the website. The complete inability to search, much less book, revenue/paid tickets on partners is incredibly frustrating. Similarly, to book partner awards, the website will put you on Select Buddy Partner. Only. I'm supposed to call in? What is this, 1995?
2. Partner earnings are brutal, and redeeming is unnecessarily difficult.
I have discovered at every turn JUST how hard it is to actually earn miles on partners. Never mind fare class punishments (which are somewhat common even at United), but flying LATAM? Well, you'd better hope you're flying the LAN side and not the TAM side. The Singapore partnership still isn't fully baked yet. AND, most of the partner's websites won't let you list ANC as a point of origin, even though they're partners with AS. So I have to book on an OTA or a separate ticket to SEA and then get started from there. And then I must make extra sure that my tickets are booking into a fare class with earnings. That's a handicap for AS; I shouldn't have to fly full Y fare to get 100% miles, when AS doesn't offer flights on their own metal. In my previous program (see user handle), if you didn't like the Star Alliance partner earnings for a particular trip, you could always just default to United and get full credit, because UA has.... wait for it... a GLOBAL NETWORK.
To redeem, well, see my complaints above about their IT platform. There's just no good way, unless you want to fly a handful of their partners. Primarily Emirates, JAL, or Korean. Or BA with extortionate fees. On BA, you're paying for the ticket twice!
3. Realistically no upgrades.
This is obviously a YMMV situation, but as a plain ol' MVP, there are no upgrades to be had between ANC, SEA, and any major cities, as far as I can tell. And I have flown on Sundays and Tuesdays. Admittedly, with mega-merger-mania, there don't really seem to be any upgrades at ANY carrier for bottom-rung elite members. I can't remember the last upgrade I got as a Silver at UA. Of course, I hope to gain higher status level than mere MVP. But I was status matched based on my drastically reduced flying at UA last year (I fragmented based on convenience and price). So that's what I get.
4. HUACA
AS seems to be transitioning from an airline with a customer-first attitude, very willing to bend the rules, to an airline with more of a "Hey, we have to make money here, so let's enforce some rules" approach. Fair enough, but in that process, many phone agents (and also check in agents) don't seem to know the policies. Sometimes they try to enforce rules that don't exist, or they've made them up on the fly. Especially as it relates to VX. Speaking of VX...
5. The Virgin America situation is a complete mess.
MCS upgrades won't process, except when they do, but not when they don't. And VX gate agents are under the impression that MVP MCS upgrades may only be processed AFTER BOARDING HAS BEGUN!!! Mile credit posting takes two weeks. Checking in for your flights causes you to run a serious risk of deleting your entire itinerary. AS can't issue a VX boarding pass. VX cannot issue boarding passes for AS onward connections, well over a year into a merger between two small airlines. For the return sectors of my last trip, NEITHER airline could check me in via website or mobile app- each directed me to the other carrier. And the VX onboard product is superior in every way (although not particularly profitable), so kiss it all goodbye. Except for boarding music, because 1970 called and invited AS to catch up to it.
6. Devaluations and Loss of Partners
This was also a constant fear at United- every 6 months, they found some way to make my miles worth less. I'm starting to hear rumblings that devaluations are coming to partners at AS as well, especially in the Asia region. That's a problem, because AS doesn't fly to those places. So it's not like I can just default to taking AS instead of a partner. Also, Losing AA, DL, and supposedly KL/AF is a BIG HIT to this program. I know AA is still technically there, but one year ago, I could fly from anywhere in the US to anywhere else, and have TWO carriers to choose from and earn AS miles. Now? NONE. I can't fly from MIA to CVG, unless I connect in SEA. And that's a great big HELL NO, ALASKA. And AS's attitude is basically "We merged with Virgin America, so all of your conceivable travel needs have been met with our award-winning service!!"

On the other end, I've also experienced some of the perks Alaska Air:
1. Non-Combative Customer Service
Every employee (except for a handful of flight attendants, which are always a sketchy group!) that I've encountered has been FANTASTIC. Coming from United, this is a breath of fresh air. I can't tell you how much it means to me to be treated, at every point of human contact, as though I was important to that person. I'm not a demanding individual- I'm certainly no DYKWIA type. But still, United found ways to clearly communicate that I was a part of their problem, and that their preferred solution would exclude my existence as well as the rest of their passengers. That's a sentiment I came to agree with- the only way forward for United is as a FREIGHT ONLY CARRIER. At AS, though, I'm smiled to, and spoken to... as if I were a human being.
2. Dallas Love Field.
I won't always use Love Field for my Dallas area travel, but I like having the choice to do so. I can choose either by convenience or by ticket price. Perfect! This was one of the reasons I stuck with CO/UA even after moving to ANC. I could use DFW or DAL depending on what suited me best for that trip. Now, ditto AS/VX. Love Field is a very quick and easy airport to get through, and a pleasant experience overall.
3. Distance Based Earnings.
It's like time travel back to the glory days of CO. And it really speaks for itself, so I won't drone on. But I don't want to overlook the fact that I've already got a healthy account balance, whereas in my previous program, I'd have a fraction of that.
4. Elite Bonuses
I know the other carriers CLAIM they still offer elite bonuses, and they technically do. An extra mile or three per dollar spent. But that pales in comparison to an across-the-board XX% bonus. And it's causing me to strive toward higher elite status, which means more revenue for AS!
5. Price Guarantee
I've been able to use this on 66% of the itineraries I've booked. What more can I say!?!?

In summary, the AS MileagePlan is still a good elite program, but in the past year has seen itself become severely crippled to anyone wishing to travel beyond the West Coast and key US markets. Elite status is still good for earning bonuses. But the much-vaunted partnerships are a migraine to actually take advantage of.

Last edited by Legend717; Dec 6, 17 at 3:55 pm
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Old Dec 5, 17, 5:41 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
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Posts: 62
Love it. Replaced United for long hauls and competing with Southwest for West coast.

They've been insanely generous with non-flight mileage accumulation with survey signups, dining, rental cars, shopping bonuses etc. Business travel is not enough frequency so need the ancillary programs,

Family of 5 took one round trip to EWR, the rest is non-flight . 2 adults now have 25,000 miles each, the 3 kids have 13,000 miles each.

Also, the price guarantee is great!

Looking for a great 2018 too,
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Old Dec 6, 17, 3:56 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Anchorage, AK
Programs: CO - Onepass Gold Elite--> UA - MileagePlus Gold Premier--> Silver --> AS - MileagePlan MVPGOLD!
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Originally Posted by archstenton View Post
Love it. Replaced United for long hauls and competing with Southwest for West coast.

They've been insanely generous with non-flight mileage accumulation with survey signups, dining, rental cars, shopping bonuses etc. Business travel is not enough frequency so need the ancillary programs,

Family of 5 took one round trip to EWR, the rest is non-flight . 2 adults now have 25,000 miles each, the 3 kids have 13,000 miles each.

Also, the price guarantee is great!

Looking for a great 2018 too,
You bring up the price guarantee; that's something I forgot to put on the "pros" list! Edited to add!
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Old Dec 6, 17, 4:47 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 116
Price guarantee is great. I saved myself 70 bucks on a recent price check.
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Old Dec 6, 17, 4:54 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: PNW
Programs: Alaska MVPG, Marriott Plat, Hyatt Explorist, M Life Gold, Wyndham Diamond, Caesars Diamond, IHG Plat
Posts: 19
As just an MVP, Alaska has been good to my wife and I. Upgraded to F class, 9 legs out of 25+ legs. My favorite F class upgrade was PDX-SFO-PVR and then coming back home just the SFO-PDX leg. I just made MVPG this year after a couple mileage runs. We will see how 2018 will be!
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Old Dec 7, 17, 8:22 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: BNA, ATL
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Originally Posted by Legend717 View Post
2. Partner earnings are brutal, and redeeming is unnecessarily difficult.
To the OP; Peter is a good name!

Other than that, I quoted Legend because I have some opposing arguments.
For reference started the year with less than 10k award miles banked. I spend a total of 110k on 2x Y and 1x F award redemptions. I will add another 44k award miles before the year's end.



I did the majority of the earning via BA in J with 50% to 150% booking class and 100% promo bonuses. Some CX and DE in there too. No AS, one RT on VX.

In reply to the quote, to me the partner earnings are what made this program valuable over StarAlliance or OneWorld. I primarily travelled in J with a couple TATLs on BA in W. The award miles just kept rolling in. No other program would have yielded that many miles for comparatively little flying. I could have gotten OneWorld Emerald as I have the EQM and EQDs for it, but I wouldn't have gotten nearly the same rewards.

So that's the one positive thing. Redemption on AS was easy. Didn't attempt to redeem on partners. I am also sitting on 150k LH Miles & More miles which are basically worthless. In comparison I received much more value out of the Mileage Plan.

+1 to customer service being nop notch. Loved it the two times I had to call about something.

I also value that I can get into BA lounges as MVPG 75K.

Now onto the negatives;
+1 to the VX situation being meh. Looking forward to more interoperability in 2018 as I plan on flying more VX now that I experienced their F service (oh-so-much better than on AS!).

AS lounges are just terrible. I'd be upset if I had a membership rather than using my coupons. Want to do lounges right, check how BA does it.

Overall I am satisfied with the program, earnings, value, thus far.

In 2018 I will be basing out of SFO/SJC rather than DUB and will do frequent Bay area to New York, and Bay area to Sydney instead of my 2017 TATL flights. With QF I will only be getting 25% booking class bonus, so while I won't be getting as many miles I should still be able to hit MVPG 75K about midway through the year.

Now I just need to find the time to actually redeem all the miles before they become devalued (you know that devaluation is inevitable, carrying that much "debt" isn't good for the company).
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Old Dec 8, 17, 1:04 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Adelaide, South Australia AND Seattle, WA
Programs: Hilton Diamond, IHG Platinum, Choice Platinum, Alaska 75K, Avianca, British Airways
Posts: 4,441
Joined AS this year. 148,456 actual miles - 75K member. 418,456 accrued miles mostly by flying Qantas, Emirates and Hainan.

Redeemed 3 Qantas First Class
1 Qantas Business Class
1 Cathay Pacific Business Class.

I really love the fact that I can get credit when prices drop (thanks Yapta). I love trying the different brews in the lounges thanks to my Priority Pass. I also like the upgrades but I am equally happy with exit row seating and a complimentary beer.

I love the partnership with Qantas and Hainan Airlines. Especially Aussie lounge access.

So far - I am very happy flyer. I also have Delta Platinum but I prefer AS on all routes West side except the red eye to JFK. Delta wins on the SEA-NYC run.

Last edited by davistev; Dec 8, 17 at 1:09 am
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Old Dec 9, 17, 4:33 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Anchorage, AK
Programs: CO - Onepass Gold Elite--> UA - MileagePlus Gold Premier--> Silver --> AS - MileagePlan MVPGOLD!
Posts: 708
Originally Posted by MeanwhileBackAtFAI View Post
To the OP; Peter is a good name!

Other than that, I quoted Legend because I have some opposing arguments.


In reply to the quote, to me the partner earnings are what made this program valuable over StarAlliance or OneWorld. I primarily travelled in J with a couple TATLs on BA in W. The award miles just kept rolling in. No other program would have yielded that many miles for comparatively little flying. I could have gotten OneWorld Emerald as I have the EQM and EQDs for it, but I wouldn't have gotten nearly the same rewards.

So that's the one positive thing. Redemption on AS was easy. Didn't attempt to redeem on partners. I am also sitting on 150k LH Miles & More miles which are basically worthless. In comparison I received much more value out of the Mileage Plan.


Now onto the negatives;
+1 to the VX situation being meh. Looking forward to more interoperability in 2018 as I plan on flying more VX now that I experienced their F service (oh-so-much better than on AS!).
Thank you for taking the time to post- I always welcome counterpoints!
That said, the main thrust of my complaint was that revenue partner travel isn't bookable AT ALL on the AS website (contrast to United, where I can book several partners all day long), and that you can't redeem partner awards, except for certain partners, on their website, period.
And how can 150,000 LH miles be worthless?!?! If they're worthless to you, by all means, donate them to little old ME!!
Regarding Virgin, I'm with you on looking forward to better interoperability. But here's the catch: we're in a crescendo of AS/VX cooperation, but a simultaneous diminuendo of the VX onboard product, as Alaska trashes it. So by the time they get the kinks worked out, it'll just be flying Alaska, but a plane assembled in Toulouse.

I'm happier with AS than I was with UA, but also keep in mind that in the time since I posted my list, the rumor of AS divorcing AF/KL has become a confirmed reality. The program value has again decreased, although exactly how much impact that has is debatable.
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