After a series of Business Class flights on Emirates, I have finally achieved MVP Gold status on the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. I have previously written about how crediting flights to the right program makes a world of difference - on my Business Class flights from Singapore to New York, I would have gotten only a one-way Economy Class flight from Singapore to Perth if I had credited it to Emirates Skywards. However, since I chose to credit it to my the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account, I had almost enough miles for a return-flight (somewhat even though a short detour is required) to Tokyo in Business Class.
In order to achieve MVP Gold on the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Program, one will have to credit 40,000 eligible miles (these will only count from actual flights that you get on) that have been earned on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. Since I am based in Singapore and do not travel to the US frequently at all, I had to earn 50,000 eligible miles (25% more!) on Alaska Airlines, Virgin America as well as elite-qualifying partner airlines. As you may already suspect, Emirates is one of these partner airlines.
If you tend to fly in Business Class and First Class, you would be happy to know that the Class of Service bonus (offered to premium cabins only) count towards Alaska Airlines elite status. Therefore, since I flew on Emirates Business Class only (remember this has to be a paid revenue ticket and not a redemption), I essentially needed to fly only 40,000 actual miles (since I get 25% Class of Service bonus). If you fly only on First Class, you will only need to fly 33,334 actual miles to hit MVP Gold.
While Alaska Airlines do have a rather interesting list of partner airlines, the ones that are immediately most applicable to Singaporeans (or anyone based in Singapore) are the following:
- Singapore Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Korean Air
- British Airways
Since you can get such amazing value out of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles from Japan Airlines, it wouldn't quite make sense to book a revenue ticket in Business Class on JAL if you are planning to travel to Japan. Therefore, the two most relevant airlines for me is Singapore Airlines and Emirates (only because I have to go to AU/NZ a couple of times each year). It is definitely worth noting that having MVP Gold status with Alaska Airlines means being able to enjoy a wide range of benefits (most of which do not really benefit me since I am based in Singapore):
- Benefits on Alaska Airlines (e.g. unlimited First Class upgrades and free checked baggage)
- 100% Bonus Miles
- Partner Lounge Access (British Airways, Hainan Airlines, Qantas and Icelandair)
The list of benefits that you get when you travel on Alaska Airlines or Virgin America is really long and I will not go into this since there are various articles out there that talk about this in great detail. What I really do want to focus on is the other two benefits - 100% bonus miles and partner lounge access. With 100% Bonus Miles, you are essentially doubling the number of base miles you earn from a given flight. To put it into an example, consider a flight from Singapore to Melbourne that I have recently taken:
|SIN-MEL||Distance||Base Miles||Class of Service Bonus||Additional Bonus||Total||MVP Gold Bonus||Total (MVP Gold)|
|Economy (Y,E,R,W)||3,746 Miles
Having MVP Gold status would mean a return trip from Singapore to Melbourne in Business Class on Emirates would earn me 24,350 miles - almost enough for a somewhat return-flight from Singapore to Tokyo in Business Class. Considering how these Emirates flight go for only S$3,000 during sale periods, it is amazing value since you even get free chauffeur-drive service with your EK flights.
While you do get lounge access with a Business Class (or First Class) ticket, being able to access the Qantas Lounges even why flying on Economy on a QF flight is a nice benefit. I do not personally fly in Economy Class often (since I typically redeem for a Business Class flight if I am traveling for pleasure), but sometimes I do justify the cost of flying on Business Class for short flights like intra-Australia flights or those between Australia and New Zealand.