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A question of love, loyalty, expediency and miles - Alaska or American?

A question of love, loyalty, expediency and miles - Alaska or American?

Old Sep 10, 05, 10:03 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2005
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A question of love, loyalty, expediency and miles - Alaska or American?

Really, I didn't know where else to turn. The decision is such a minor one, but it has such significant implications in the long term - so I thought to ask here. The scoop is that I'm an MVP with Alaska. I live in Vancouver and used to travel to Los Angeles about 5 times a year. I love the direct flights. I love that if I'm willing to go at 7 AM, I am almost guarateed a first class seat upgrade. I love the fact that the upgrades are available on a space available basis rather than having "upgrade segment coupons" or some such nonsense. I like the fact that Alaska has so many airline partners that I can generally find a way to get from here to there on one of them. I will easily make MVP Gold in the next 60 days.

Now the problem is that I've moved for the next 9 months to Lubbock, TX. By all accounts its a temporary move, but I'm just not sure. Lets give it a 35% chance. Its arbitrary, but its as good as any indication.

American Airlines offers a challenge program to allow you to upgrade quickly to a elite status. If I decided to take the challenge, I'd be there in 60 days. Then, I'd be Platinum with American.

So there are benefits there as well. American has a much broader flight radius, so using miles go get around the US for a vacation is easier that way. I've never been a member of American's Platinum, but I just don't feel like I know all the benefits. I've looked at the web site, and it seems like upgrades are on an upgrade consumable basis (you have to earn them or buy them). Maybe I've got it wrong. For example, it seems like, even when there are unused spaces in FC, if you don't pay the upgrade fee you won't get moved to FC unless you buy 8-500 mile upgrades. I've read the web site information, but I'm not sure if that's the way it feels like in practice.

The truth is that I will continue to fly American and Alaska as I can. I especially like the service in Alaska (I remember the time they handed out apple slices as the onboard snack!). At that level, I'll earn 100% bonus miles on either airlines. The only thing that I can see being a benefit to American is the access to their broader network for reduced mileage awards. Again, maybe I'm wrong. I expect to be making the DFW-YVR run no less than 8 times next year.

So, the question is, what should I do! Thanks for any information/ideas on how I can make the decision. For example, how likely is a complementary upgrade (if they even do them) to FC on the DFW-YVR flight.
drtimbo is offline  
Old Sep 10, 05, 10:56 pm
  #2  
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Double (or in your case, triple) posting is prohibited by the FlyerTalk Terms of Service.
dayone is offline  
Old Sep 10, 05, 11:22 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by dayone
Double (or in your case, triple) posting is prohibited by the FlyerTalk Terms of Service.
Sorry about that, I was unaware of this prohibition in the TOS.

I posted in the more generic forum seeking experts who may know from both perspective. It was at that forum that it was suggested that I consider moving the message to either the American or the Alaska board. However, since my question was a comparison between two plans, I thought that choosing one area of the other would give me only one perspective.

As I'm new (this was my first post), I'll defer to those experts out there who might recommend a course of action

Thanks.
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Old Sep 11, 05, 2:03 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Originally Posted by drtimbo
American Airlines offers a challenge program to allow you to upgrade quickly to a elite status. If I decided to take the challenge, I'd be there in 60 days. Then, I'd be Platinum with American.

So there are benefits there as well. American has a much broader flight radius, so using miles go get around the US for a vacation is easier that way. I've never been a member of American's Platinum, but I just don't feel like I know all the benefits. I've looked at the web site, and it seems like upgrades are on an upgrade consumable basis (you have to earn them or buy them). Maybe I've got it wrong. For example, it seems like, even when there are unused spaces in FC, if you don't pay the upgrade fee you won't get moved to FC unless you buy 8-500 mile upgrades. I've read the web site information, but I'm not sure if that's the way it feels like in practice.

The truth is that I will continue to fly American and Alaska as I can. I especially like the service in Alaska (I remember the time they handed out apple slices as the onboard snack!). At that level, I'll earn 100% bonus miles on either airlines. The only thing that I can see being a benefit to American is the access to their broader network for reduced mileage awards. Again, maybe I'm wrong. I expect to be making the DFW-YVR run no less than 8 times next year.

So, the question is, what should I do! Thanks for any information/ideas on how I can make the decision. For example, how likely is a complementary upgrade (if they even do them) to FC on the DFW-YVR flight.
You might be better off posting on the American forum. That said, I fly both AS and AA quite a bit (and have for 4 years) so I can answer some of your questions.

AA only gives comp upgrades for Y fares unless you are Executive Platinum (100K miles or points per calendar year). American tracks your flying two ways: actual miles flown (500 mile minimum) and points which are calculated based on the fare class paid. The net result is that people who consistently purchase the higher fare buckets reach elite status level quicker.

If you are Platinum or Gold on AA, then you have to buy the 500 mile upgrades (most people still call them stickers even though they are all electronic these days) for $25 each online or $40 at the airport on day of flight (or with miles). For every 10,000 miles, you earn 4 "stickers" in your upgrade account.

As a platinum on AA, you get 100% bonus miles plus class of service. That is the main reason I push to get to platinum on AA. Gold only gets a 25% bonus, so there is a big step up by making platinum. Since AS gives a 50% bonus to MVPs, I figure it is more important to work on my AA qualifying miles/points.

I think AS wins out on staff, especially flight attendants, and the possibilities with mileage plan. The 20K awards are a good value these days and I can often find seats on or close to my preferred travel dates. The comp upgrades are a nice perk.

I think AA easily wins out on first class meal service, although on a 2-hour flight, you are more likely to get a small bit of something on AS compared to nuts on AA. For longer flights, the AA meal service wins hands down. If you don't get upgraded, however, AA's coach meal service is mostly snack boxes (an assortment of non-perishable stuff like packaged salami, cheese, cookies, etc.) AS still offers something in coach on its longer flights.

AA has a better lounge network (although AS just added an agreement with CO that makes this less of an advantage to AA), but the boardroom is cheaper and includes comp drinks (AA charges for alcohol in most clubs). AS has free wireless in SEA and PDX; AA uses T-Mobile so you have to pay. Agents in either airline's lounges are usually among the best in terms of working to get you a good seat assignment or helping you when a problem crops up.

AS went through some big turmoil this spring and early summer, but things seem to have settled down. My last few flights have been on time or very close and I find myself no longer worrying that I might be an hour or two late, barring a weather issue.

If I have anything wrong, I'm sure someone will chime in. My AA flying is down this year, unfortunately, so I am in danger of dropping back to gold for the first time since 2000.

Hope this helps.
makfan is offline  
Old Sep 11, 05, 10:48 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
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First, welcome to flyertalk. I apologize for the first reply you got: a scolding for being unaware of some rules. Most FTs are actually quite helpful and try to offer useful answers.

As suggested the AA board may be more useful as you already know the AS rules etc.

Would you be flying enough to gain/retain significant status in both programs? If you get a match, you'd perhaps be able to keep both.

And good luck in TX. Never been to Lubbock, only HOU and SAT. Hope you won't get culture shock stemming from YVR. Love that city!

Last edited by Nobbi; Sep 12, 05 at 11:33 am Reason: Fixing mistake pointed out by formeraa
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Old Sep 11, 05, 10:34 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Nobbi
.

And good luck in TX. Never been to Lubbock, only HOU and SAN. Hope you won't get culture shock stemming from YVR. Love that city!
San Diego is in Texas?!?
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Old Sep 12, 05, 10:28 am
  #7  
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Your AS miles can be a bit more difficult to use from your area, as AS doesn't serve it.

Yes, AS miles are valid on AA and CO which both serve Lubbock, but AS has a very stingy combinability policy for rewards, as I believe they'll only throw in their metal segments when booking a partner reward.

So, partners such as BA that would require that you get to DFW or IAH would only be bookable out of those cities (you'd be on your own for LBB-DFW/IAH). If you redeem the same award using AA miles, AA will throw in the segment to DFW.
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Old Sep 12, 05, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by formeraa
San Diego is in Texas?!?
Not usually! Thanks for pointing out my error!
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Old Sep 14, 05, 11:26 am
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Originally Posted by formeraa
San Diego is in Texas?!?
Check your sources! SAT = San Antonio, SAN = San Diego!
Viviana is offline  
Old Sep 14, 05, 7:09 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by Viviana
Check your sources! SAT = San Antonio, SAN = San Diego!
Viviana, thanks for the defense. But formeraa was correct. I had made a mistake. I corrected it/edited the post and noted that.
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