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Alaska Airlines *FLAME-FREE* Q&A Thread: All Welcome, New and Old! (2023-2024)

Alaska Airlines *FLAME-FREE* Q&A Thread: All Welcome, New and Old! (2023-2024)

Old Jan 27, 2023, 6:07 pm
  #61  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Programs: AAdvantage + Alaska
Posts: 9
Here is my flame-free question for this thread.

I got MVP for the first time this year. I don't travel for work, only for pleasure. I'd like to get MVP Gold, and generally travel more. I don't have specific destinations in mind, and a very flexible schedule - I would rather choose destinations by deals, as price is the main sensitivity. I've got an Alaska Mileage card and about 60k miles in my balance at the moment. Based in SEA. The question is this:

What is the learning path from a flight idiot who uses Google Flights to find deals, to a flight professional like you wonderful people, who intrinsically understands all this. I get that different tickets have different codes which correspond to....something, beyond just the class. I assume booking time? I do know there is a wiki but if I'm being honest, I'm so overwhelmed by all of it that I'm struggling to find some point of penetration through the veil of overwhelming ignorance on this topic. There seems to be something fundamental I'm missing from this understanding - I'm guessing it has to do with access to specific tools where this information is more relevant/obvious. For example, I see people talking about first-class MVP upgrades on flights costing $15, $35, $110 - whereas I only ever see it at $600+ each way. Is there any way to make this whole experience less kafkaesque? I feel like I'm constantly banging my head against the wall, because I've never once in my life seen anything approaching the flight deals I've heard about. Is it simply that I'm not dedicating enough time to all of this, and that the people who are able to find good deals are simply putting in 3+ hours a day searching through flights to find these hidden gems? Is it because I don't fly enough to need to understand how the greater system operates and how people game it?
Pusheen is offline  
Old Jan 27, 2023, 6:25 pm
  #62  
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Programs: Alaska Mileage Plan - MVP Gold
Posts: 183
Originally Posted by Pusheen
Here is my flame-free question for this thread.

I got MVP for the first time this year. I don't travel for work, only for pleasure. I'd like to get MVP Gold, and generally travel more. I don't have specific destinations in mind, and a very flexible schedule - I would rather choose destinations by deals, as price is the main sensitivity. I've got an Alaska Mileage card and about 60k miles in my balance at the moment. Based in SEA. The question is this:

What is the learning path from a flight idiot who uses Google Flights to find deals, to a flight professional like you wonderful people, who intrinsically understands all this. I get that different tickets have different codes which correspond to....something, beyond just the class. I assume booking time? I do know there is a wiki but if I'm being honest, I'm so overwhelmed by all of it that I'm struggling to find some point of penetration through the veil of overwhelming ignorance on this topic. There seems to be something fundamental I'm missing from this understanding - I'm guessing it has to do with access to specific tools where this information is more relevant/obvious. For example, I see people talking about first-class MVP upgrades on flights costing $15, $35, $110 - whereas I only ever see it at $600+ each way. Is there any way to make this whole experience less kafkaesque? I feel like I'm constantly banging my head against the wall, because I've never once in my life seen anything approaching the flight deals I've heard about. Is it simply that I'm not dedicating enough time to all of this, and that the people who are able to find good deals are simply putting in 3+ hours a day searching through flights to find these hidden gems? Is it because I don't fly enough to need to understand how the greater system operates and how people game it?
Let's see if I can break out down for you.

" I get that different tickets have different codes which correspond to....something, beyond just the class."

The codes you see people talking about, like Q, O, X, U, etc, are the "fare class". For the most part they correspond to how much you paid for the ticket, although there are some special ones - U means "Upgrade" - a ticket purchased in Main but upgraded to First. X is Saver. E and T are saver awards in First and Main, respectively - those are important because those must be available to attach an AS flight to an award itinerary on a partner carrier. For normal fares, J, C, D, and I are the First fares in descending order of cost, and for economy it's Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S, N, Q, O, G in that order (they're ordered on https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mi...earn-on-alaska)

Okay, so why do those matter? Well, as you can see in that link, some of the more expensive fare classes earn more miles (although Y fares are incredibly expensive, so you probably aren't ever booking that) but more importantly the fare class combined with your elite status level determines what upgrades you can get.

As a MVP, you can upgrade to premium class at time of booking with a Y, B, or H fare. As a MVPG, that expands all the way to N fare. For 75K and 100K, all fares except saver are eligible: https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mi...class-upgrades

First class works similarly. As a MVP, you can upgrade to first at time of booking with a Y or B fare. For a MVPG, that's a Y B H or K fare. For 75K and 100K, that's Y B H K or M fares: https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mi...ntary-upgrades

If you're searching on alaskaair.com for flights and select "MVP or MVP Gold" or something like that in the "Upgrade fare type" on the left, what it will do is add "Premium class upgrade" and "First class upgrade" columns that's the cheapest available but also in the above fare bucket. Y and B fares are very expensive, so if you're searching for MVP this will often be *much* higher than just buying a first class fare. Searching for upgrade fare types also adds a little box with an F in it to each flight. This corresponds to whether or not there is "U" (or upgrade) space available on that flight. Alaska does not just let anyone upgrade into any available first class seat, because they want to try to sell a paid first class ticket if they can. If the F is in a white box, that means there's currently no U space, so purchasing a "First class upgrade" fare won't actually get you into First unless U space later becomes available (the booking process will warn you of this). An F in a blue box means U space is available.

"For example, I see people talking about first-class MVP upgrades on flights costing $15, $35, $110 - whereas I only ever see it at $600+ each way."

For an upgrade that cheap, they might be talking about the increase to an N fare to use a "MVP Gold guest" certificate. I've never gotten such a good deal on upgrading to first on AS without using a GGU. When you reach MVPG, you are given four codes that you can use (or give to friends/family to use) to get a confirmed upgrade to First as long as there's U space available (blue F like mentioned above) and your fare class is N or higher. Since N is on the cheaper end of the spectrum, it's much more common to end up just booking this fare, or maybe booking a Q or O fare and then the upfare to be minimal. But it's not just the cost, you also have to use one of the GGUs to get the upgrade.
remyjette is offline  
Old Jan 27, 2023, 6:37 pm
  #63  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: YVR
Programs: AS 75K
Posts: 245
I'm hoping to book a few cheap and cheerful transcons so I can hit Gold before a big overseas trip I'll be taking in spring. Depending on the site I check I'm either going to be just over or just under under the 40K mark. Does anyone know where AS gets the distances between 2 cities for the purpose crediting miles to MP?

Alternatively would anyone who's taken an AS flight from BOS, JFK or EWR care to share the amount of base miles they were credited to their MP account?

Thank you.
Shuttle
shuttlerider is offline  
Old Jan 27, 2023, 7:40 pm
  #64  
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: HVN
Posts: 119
Originally Posted by remyjette
Yeah, this was posted about a week ago in another thread https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/34944082-post7591.html

Most likely permanent given that they've restricted day passes at JFK to only those flying on AS or another oneworld airline.
Man, what a bummer, having access to the lounge was one of the reasons I went with Alaska out of JFK. Not worth it to buy a full lounge membership when I'm only flying a handful of times a year. And boy is Terminal 7 miserable without the lounge.

Glad Chase comped my CSR annual fee this year, that was the main Priority Pass lounge I used, would have been a real bummer to have paid for that.

Anyone have any luck using the Amex Platinum airline fee credits towards an Alaska Lounge membership? Considering switching to that card.
Tweed Jet Set is offline  
Old Jan 27, 2023, 7:43 pm
  #65  
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Programs: Alaska Mileage Plan - MVP Gold
Posts: 183
Originally Posted by Tweed Jet Set
Man, what a bummer, having access to the lounge was one of the reasons I went with Alaska out of JFK. Not worth it to buy a full lounge membership when I'm only flying a handful of times a year. And boy is Terminal 7 miserable without the lounge.

Glad Chase comped my CSR annual fee this year, that was the main Priority Pass lounge I used, would have been a real bummer to have paid for that.

Anyone have any luck using the Amex Platinum airline fee credits towards an Alaska Lounge membership? Considering switching to that card.
Sure can. Alaska lounge membership via AMEX airline benefit
remyjette is offline  
Old Jan 27, 2023, 8:07 pm
  #66  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: YYZ, SFO
Programs: AS 100K, UA*S, IHG Plat, Marriott Titanium, Hilton Diamond | Formerly: AC Super Elite
Posts: 2,477
Originally Posted by Pusheen
I got MVP for the first time this year. I don't travel for work, only for pleasure. I'd like to get MVP Gold, and generally travel more. I don't have specific destinations in mind, and a very flexible schedule - I would rather choose destinations by deals, as price is the main sensitivity. .... Based in SEA. The question is this:

What is the learning path from a flight idiot who uses Google Flights to find deals, .... For example, I see people talking about first-class MVP upgrades on flights costing $15, $35, $110 - whereas I only ever see it at $600+ each way. Is there any way to make this whole experience less kafkaesque?
Welcome to FT and welcome down the rabbit hole I was in your shoes back in 2009 and ohman 14 year later I'm still a sit-in-plane addict

remyjette gave a good explanation, let me give you my spin on all this

You're currently MVP and you want to get MVP Gold, so that's like another 20K miles you gotta fly. You're based in SEA and price is your main sensitivity. You're absolutely right that this can get mind boggling real fast - prices vs fares vs mileage earn is already super complex (as remyjette's explanation shows). And then upgrades is another layer of complexity that you add on top

As a starting point, I recommend ignoring upgrades for now and just focus on cheap fares + miles earned.

Miles earned is a simpler topic, so I'll explain it first - for now, just make sure you book flights whose flight number starts with AS and the number is within the range in this chart https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mi...earn-on-alaska . This way you will earn at least 1 elite qualifying mile per mile flown -- except X fares on AA, but just don't fly them

For cheap fares, I find that Alaska flights tend to be cheaper from October to end of February and if you book at least 21 days out. Unfortunately my home airport isn't SEA so I don't know which are the cheaper routes, but certain "reliable" flights to start looking at is SEA-JFK and SEA-BOS. Hopefully other SEA people can chime in with other routes that are reliably cheap.

Also, if you find flights that connect through PDX, e.g. SEA-PDX-xxx or xxx-PDX-SEA, that doesn't cost too much more, you can pick up a few extra miles since those count as 500 miles

To help figure out how many miles you'll earn - the convenient-but-not-fully-accurate way is to use gcmap.com -- so type a routing like SEA-PDX-JFK in the search bar, click Distance and it will give you an approximate mileage. A more accurate way is to use the Alaska phone app, click "Flight Status" and type in the from/to airport and look at the flight details. The mileage that it lists is in my experience the same as what you'll get when you fly it

....

To put everything above together, do this: a) log in to Alaska Airlines, b) look at the progress tracker to see how many miles you need, c) on the Alaska website, in the flight booking search, click "All search options" to go to the old booking screen, d) click "Flexible dates", type SEA and whatever other airport (for example: BOS), and the from/to dates don't really matter, just make sure they're the same month

You'll see a calendar of fares -- in our example, there's a bunch of $139 fares. Click Feb 22 for SEA-BOS and click Feb 23 for BOS-SEA then click the Continue button. You'll see all fares being sold for these dates - you can see AS 536 SEA-BOS is available for $139 -- but the arrival time is 5:45am in red, meaning it arrives the next day (that's why we searched Feb 23 for the return ). You'll see the return AS 459 leaves in an hour and also costs $139. Choose these options and click Add to Cart

In the cart summary you see that the price is $272.20, you're booked in "Main (G)" (G is your fare class) and the miles is 2487x2 = 4974 miles. This works out to 5.47 cents per mile (27220c / 4974mi) which isn't too bad. Note - please do this math correctly, if you post on FT how you got this amazing 0.0547cpm mileage run, you WILL get flamed

Now back from step b) above - how many miles do you need to get MVP Gold? Assuming you just hit MVP (20K miles) and you need to fly 20K more miles to hit 40K, that means you need to fly (40000 - 20000)/4974 = 4.02 round trips

Hope this gives you a good starting point. These are basically the same steps I use myself -- SFO-JFK-SFO is 2586x2 = 5172 miles round trip, 100K/5172 = 19.3 round trips. I'm sitting on my fifth? sixth? seventh? eighth???? SFO-JFK-SFO flight. It's gotten so bad I've lost track of how many flights I've done and I have no concept of what the current date is anymore Don't be like me

Last edited by maradori; Jan 27, 2023 at 8:16 pm
maradori is offline  
Old Jan 27, 2023, 11:13 pm
  #67  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: San Francisco
Programs: UA 1K/AS 100K Bonvoy Titanium..Hertz Presidents Club
Posts: 1,128
Originally Posted by zdfld
Unless I'm misunderstanding, you won't have any "loss" to take. When you order paid meals, you can always reject those. You don't get charged until you actually accept them on board. When you're upgraded, you won't get charged for the preordered food.
I did not know that. Thank you. In the end, I will just wait it out to see if I get the upgrade at T-24.
minhaoxue is offline  
Old Jan 28, 2023, 7:12 am
  #68  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: ANC, NYC
Posts: 327
Are alaska agents willing to cancel/redeposit half of a roundtrip award? I noticed some availability only shows up when searching roundtrip.
desafino is offline  
Old Jan 28, 2023, 2:07 pm
  #69  
mk9
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 7
I'm new to AS, I'm trying to look up fine print (or even award charts, I can't find anything actually) for redemption with partners.

www.alaskaair _ com/content/mileage-plan/use-miles/award-charts

lists only awards originating from continental US, I'm more interested in the routing between Europe and Asia. I just can't find information about partner awards anywhere on the AS website. Like it's described in the link in the wiki thread about CX states that it's impossible to have a stopover in HKG on CX on routes originating from the Europe...
mk9 is offline  
Old Jan 29, 2023, 9:04 am
  #70  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: ANC, NYC
Posts: 327
Originally Posted by desafino
Are alaska agents willing to cancel/redeposit half of a roundtrip award? I noticed some availability only shows up when searching roundtrip.
Follow up: yes.
desafino is offline  
Old Jan 30, 2023, 1:01 am
  #71  
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 24
Newbie question, am planning to do JAL business class flight redemption from Tokyo to Singapore (Alaska base status and no one world status) and for the checked in baggage, is that free 2 pieces (is that 2 pieces of 32kg baggage each) or free 3 pieces of 32kg baggage (from JAL website)?
Happydog999 is offline  
Old Jan 30, 2023, 10:31 am
  #72  
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Programs: Alaska Mileage Plan - MVP Gold
Posts: 183
Originally Posted by Happydog999
Newbie question, am planning to do JAL business class flight redemption from Tokyo to Singapore (Alaska base status and no one world status) and for the checked in baggage, is that free 2 pieces (is that 2 pieces of 32kg baggage each) or free 3 pieces of 32kg baggage (from JAL website)?
When flying with a partner airline, baggage follows that airline's rules. So it would be what you see on the JAL site.
remyjette is offline  
Old Jan 30, 2023, 7:33 pm
  #73  
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 24
Thank u.
Happydog999 is offline  
Old Jan 31, 2023, 6:52 am
  #74  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Programs: SPG Gold, Aeroplan, Hilton Honors, Le Club Accor Platinum
Posts: 268
Hello,
I am travelling in first class from HNL - SEA - PDX - YVR. My flight from HNL departs at 11:20 pm. Does anyone know if I will be allowed access to the SEA and PDX lounges? Does it count as same day travel?

First Class Lounge access:
  • For bookings made on or after November 18, 2022, for travel February 15, 2023 and beyond, Lounge access will be based on two criteria:
  • DISTANCE: Passengers traveling on a paid First Class or a First Class award ticket* on flights operated by Alaska Airlines where one flight has a distance of at least 2,100 miles. Lounge access is granted on the day of the flight only, to all lounges in that day’s itinerary, including connecting flights that are less than 2,100 miles. Lounge access is not included for family or other guests not traveling in First Class. Entrance into other airline clubrooms is not included with First Class fares or awards. To access the Alaska Lounge, passengers must show their eligible same-day First Class boarding pass to the Alaska Lounge Staff.
1011TriStar is offline  
Old Jan 31, 2023, 7:04 am
  #75  
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Programs: Alaska Mileage Plan - MVP Gold
Posts: 183
Originally Posted by 1011TriStar
Hello,
I am travelling in first class from HNL - SEA - PDX - YVR. My flight from HNL departs at 11:20 pm. Does anyone know if I will be allowed access to the SEA and PDX lounges? Does it count as same day travel?

First Class Lounge access:
  • For bookings made on or after November 18, 2022, for travel February 15, 2023 and beyond, Lounge access will be based on two criteria:
  • DISTANCE: Passengers traveling on a paid First Class or a First Class award ticket* on flights operated by Alaska Airlines where one flight has a distance of at least 2,100 miles. Lounge access is granted on the day of the flight only, to all lounges in that days itinerary, including connecting flights that are less than 2,100 miles. Lounge access is not included for family or other guests not traveling in First Class. Entrance into other airline clubrooms is not included with First Class fares or awards. To access the Alaska Lounge, passengers must show their eligible same-day First Class boarding pass to the Alaska Lounge Staff.
Yes, you should have access to the lounge in both SEA and PDX on that itinerary. Both days are "the day of the flight" for an overnight flight.
remyjette is offline  

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