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Strategies for when Alaska just won't get you there

Strategies for when Alaska just won't get you there

Old Nov 14, 19, 4:26 pm
  #1  
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Strategies for when Alaska just won't get you there

I am primarily a business traveler and most of the time AS gets me there. With business travel MVPG is easily attained, but then I usually have another 20k miles in travel on other legacy carriers to get to places AS does not travel to. I wanted to poll others on how you manage maximize benefits or at least some comfort when you travel outside the Alaska network. I am debating a strategy where I try to use some mix of credit card tricks and travel to maintain a little status on DL or UA (probably not AA....). But I also realize I can probably just pay out of pocket for some of those elite perks with a la carte purchases and so maybe its not worth it. I primarily travel domestically and that matters too since I am not looking for international perks as much.

Curious to hear what others have done. I realize the answers are very subjective, but would love to hear how you've debated or managed it.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:34 pm
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Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
I try to use some mix of credit card tricks and travel to maintain a little status on DL or UA
This seems tough, simply due to the MQD requirement (perhaps you fly enough or have enough CC spend though to where it isn't). Silver is pretty worthless on DL or UA as well. What are you looking to get out of low-level status with another airline?

Personally, I fill the AS gaps with DL. I typically buy flights with SkyMiles (from CC signup bonus or Amex point transfer) and pay cash to upgrade. I'll also consider AA or UA if the F fare is cheap enough.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:37 pm
  #3  
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The more pertinent question here is how many dollars do you spend on this 20K miles of travel that you do on other carriers. That would help us make suggestions.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:41 pm
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Originally Posted by RAD_PDX View Post
This seems tough, simply due to the MQD requirement (perhaps you fly enough or have enough CC spend though to where it isn't). Silver is pretty worthless on DL or UA as well. What are you looking to get out of low-level status with another airline?

Personally, I fill the AS gaps with DL. I typically buy flights with SkyMiles (from CC signup bonus or Amex point transfer) and pay cash to upgrade. I'll also consider AA or UA if the F fare is cheap enough.
I've been spoiled on AS... I was wondering if the silver is worth much or anything. Its nice to have earlier boarding for carry on day trips, and seats further forward if I can. Maybe just the credit card benefits get me that.

Part of this is that sense that I am leaving something on the table with those 20k in miles that just become a random assortment of RDM.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:43 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by formeraa View Post
The more pertinent question here is how many dollars do you spend on this 20K miles of travel that you do on other carriers. That would help us make suggestions.
Good question. Probably $4k or so. Most of them are shorter notice. Spend seems to be less of a challenge for me. This year on UA I am almost there on PQD but only a third of the way on PQM for silver. (The rest of the miles went to DL).
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:43 pm
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Depending on how much you travel, it's conceivable you could earn *G via crediting a sufficient amount of UA travel to another *A carrier (e.g. A3, TK, or OZ). That would give you a lot of the UA Gold benefits, minus E+ access but plus UA Club access. If you alternatively focused on DL, you could earn Silver or Gold via organic travel + sufficient spend on the DL Platinum or Reserve card. It would come at the opportunity cost of not putting spend on better earning cards.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:44 pm
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I've always pondered purchasing Economy Plus Subscription (now domestically $599/yr) and travel using a UA Explorer credit card for advance boarding, and luggage benefit..... It seems to be a cheaper version of Silver Elite.

Jiburi
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
I've been spoiled on AS... I was wondering if the silver is worth much or anything. Its nice to have earlier boarding for carry on day trips, and seats further forward if I can. Maybe just the credit card benefits get me that.

Part of this is that sense that I am leaving something on the table with those 20k in miles that just become a random assortment of RDM.


If you put it toward one airline and do reach silver, you would at least benefit from the extra mileage earning, but I'm not sure if you want to be in the position of potentially having to do mileage runs to earn low-tier status on a second airline.

Delta does have the new SkyMiles Select program which allows earlier boarding and 8 free drinks for only $59. Personally, I would pick Delta, get the Platinum Amex card, and put all of you're effort there. I'm not a UA fan so there may be a possibility there too, I just won't recommend it
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:54 pm
  #9  
 
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Originally Posted by RAD_PDX View Post
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If you put it toward one airline and do reach silver, you would at least benefit from the extra mileage earning, but I'm not sure if you want to be in the position of potentially having to do mileage runs to earn low-tier status on a second airline.

Delta does have the new SkyMiles Select program which allows earlier boarding and 8 free drinks for only $59. Personally, I would pick Delta, get the Platinum Amex card, and put all of you're effort there. I'm not a UA fan so there may be a possibility there too, I just won't recommend it
Delta Platinum or the MR-earning Platinum?

But I had no idea about SkyMiles Select so thanks for that, for $59 that's a decent option to know about.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 4:55 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
I am primarily a business traveler and most of the time AS gets me there. With business travel MVPG is easily attained, but then I usually have another 20k miles in travel on other legacy carriers to get to places AS does not travel to. I wanted to poll others on how you manage maximize benefits or at least some comfort when you travel outside the Alaska network. I am debating a strategy where I try to use some mix of credit card tricks and travel to maintain a little status on DL or UA (probably not AA....). But I also realize I can probably just pay out of pocket for some of those elite perks with a la carte purchases and so maybe its not worth it. I primarily travel domestically and that matters too since I am not looking for international perks as much.

Curious to hear what others have done. I realize the answers are very subjective, but would love to hear how you've debated or managed it.
Moving most my business over to AS now as they fly to most (not all) the places that I travel. I am LT Gold with UA as a 1MMiler with them so I will use them on flights for example into CLE. With the LT Gold I get free bags (2), early boarding, and free E+ seating so I got that covered. If UA seems to work for you on certain routes maybe get the Explorer Card with them that will give you some of the above benefits (I believe you get only one free bag). I just looked at trying to fly AS into CLE and it was unfortunately a sad and expensive joke. However, I travel extensively into Hawaii for work so they really shine there.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 5:06 pm
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Originally Posted by Eurynom0s View Post
Delta Platinum or the MR-earning Platinum?

But I had no idea about SkyMiles Select so thanks for that, for $59 that's a decent option to know about.
I was thinking the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Amex credit card, but the $550 Amex platinum might not be a bad option too since it has Skyclub access.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 5:08 pm
  #12  
 
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I use a combo of WN and UA. If you can do a Business Select fare on WN, that's pretty reasonable as you likely will get an aisle/window in the first 6 rows. I have the UA Explorer card as well. Too bad the AA partnership is basically going away, but if you can get an AA codeshare that might be a decent option.

Did fly Delta a little while back when I had to get to DLH. Even as a regular member it was ohhkaay for one trip.

Answers change if you are flying internationally, but assume you mean domestic since AS has multiple partners internationally.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
Good question. Probably $4k or so. Most of them are shorter notice. Spend seems to be less of a challenge for me. This year on UA I am almost there on PQD but only a third of the way on PQM for silver. (The rest of the miles went to DL).
That was the story of my life when I was flying primarily UA for business travel - enough PQD for Plat, but stuck halfway between Silver and Gold on miles. UA is changing next year to be almost entirely spend based and it sounds like E+ and F buyups will count in that. $5K=silver, $10K=gold, $15K=Plat, $24K=1K, with some discounts for flying a lot of segments. Silver on UA is still a fairly big improvement over general member (especially IRROPS), but you can get largely the same benefits as Gold for the price of the explorer card ($95) and an E+ subscription ($600 for lower 48 states only). Free upgrades don't really exist on UA until you get to 1K, and even they seem to have trouble getting them. I did the CC+E+ sub one year when I expired from Silver and it kept me fairly comfortable while I worked back up. The E+ sub is for a year from date of purchase, so if you go UA, it's best to buy it right when you buy your first flight and then use it to move to E+ immediately (it goes into effect immediately).

I'm going to expire out of UA silver this year (I went for AS MVPG and UA nothing this year instead of MVP +Silver) so I'm considering the same issues. Being LAX based it's pretty easy to just fly whoever works for my schedule
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Old Nov 14, 19, 6:03 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by chrisl137 View Post
That was the story of my life when I was flying primarily UA for business travel - enough PQD for Plat, but stuck halfway between Silver and Gold on miles. UA is changing next year to be almost entirely spend based and it sounds like E+ and F buyups will count in that. $5K=silver, $10K=gold, $15K=Plat, $24K=1K, with some discounts for flying a lot of segments.
Hmmm good point, my UA travel is usually higher base fare spend by client and then I often top off with E+ or F buy up. That could be a good strategy too.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 7:45 pm
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I'm NYC-based but 80%+ of my travel is transcon (NYC -> SEA, SFO, LAX, SAN) or international via AS partners.

I keep the AAdvantage Executive Card as my non-AS strategy; it gives me access to Alaska Lounges and Admiral's Clubs, as well as Priority Boarding and free checked bags on AA, which means I can even buy basic economy and not suffer too much. My goal is for flying not-Alaska (only a few times a year) is basically to not be charged extra fees, so priority boarding and free checked bags is basically the Elite-lite that I need. For the 3 times a year or so I need to fly a different airline, the lack of upgrades doesn't really matter (and as a AA Gold, my chances would be nonexistent anyway). $450 / year seems like a good deal, and I even get to share the membership with a few other family members.
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