Transportation: It’s All Happening at Alaska Airlines!

Some of this is old news, but there are a lot of things going on with Alaska Airlines. First thing, you may have heard that they’ve merged with Virgin America. Virgin America will be fully absorbed by Alaska Airlines by the end of 2019, including, hopefully, its quirky personality and mood lighting (in blue, not red). Although primarily a West Coast operation, the combined airlines are now the 5th largest carrier in the United States. They’re flying 1,200 flights a day to 118 destinations, and their combined global network reaches over 800 destinations worldwide.

Alaska Airlines Welcome. Image Credit: courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

A major benefit of the combined airlines comes courtesy of The (Bank of America) Alaska Airlines VISA Signature Card: an annual (minimum cost) $121 companion fare ($99 + taxes and fees) when traveling with another passenger on a paid published coach airfare on the same itinerary, booked at the same time via the Alaska Airlines website. This benefit includes all destinations that Alaska/Virgin America flies, including Canada, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Mexico. A quick search demonstrated that a flight from Honolulu to Cuba (fewest stops: HNL to SEA to HAV) would cost $1,069 for the first passenger (including taxes and fees) and $219 for the second (including taxes and fees). In this scenario, that’s an $850 savings for a $75 credit card annual fee. Alaska Airlines doesn’t limit inventory for the companion fare and both travelers will still earn miles and are eligible for complimentary elite upgrades.

Speaking of elite status, Alaska Airline’s Mileage Plan will match airline elite status all the way up to their top tier MVP Gold 75K level. The Airline will match with Aeromexico, Air Canada, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, and United. There are three levels of Alaska Elite Status: MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K. To request a match, email elite.flyer@alaskaair.com with copies of your current elite card (both sides), your online account (showing your name, current status, and YTD miles flown) and your driver’s license or passport. Allow 2-4 weeks for processing. Note: matched status will expire at the end of the year, and you can only status match one time. Since I don’t fly enough and have no loyalty to any one airline, I’m not going to even pretend to be able to decipher elite program benefits, but feel free to analyze Alaska’s elite program on your own.

Finally, if you have yet to join the Mileage Plan program, Alaska Airlines is offering 5,000 bonus miles if you sign-up by April 30, 2017 and complete your first flight with them by September 30, 2017 (certain restrictions apply).

 

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