The Complete Guide to Alaska MVP Benefits and Elite Status

Alaska MVP elite status perks are ultra-valuable, with MVP Gold 100K worth an estimated $8,300.
Elina Geller
Sam Kemmis
By Sam Kemmis and  Elina Geller 
Updated
Edited by Meg Lee

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Maybe you want the free upgrades. Or you’re in it for the bonus frequent flyer miles. Or maybe you just covet those little ramekins of warm nuts.

Whether you fly often already with Alaska Airlines or are considering switching loyalty from another airline, holding MVP Elite status through the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan can be hugely rewarding. It can also feel overwhelming. In this guide, we break down how to earn MVP status with Alaska, the benefits and value you’ll get from the four elite levels, and details on upgrading to first class.

What is MVP elite status on Alaska Airlines?

Alaska Mileage Plan members earn MVP status either by flying on Alaska and its partners or through status matching. There are four elite status levels (explained below).

You keep your status for the remainder of the year in which you earn it, as well as the following calendar year. For example, if you reach MVP Gold status in mid-2023, you’ll enjoy the benefits of that status through December 2024.

You can even keep your status indefinitely by becoming a Million Miler. The requirement (you guessed it) is flying 1 million miles on Alaska-operated flights. That will earn you lifetime MVP Gold status. If your goal is lifetime MVP Gold 75K status, 2 million miles will get you there.

Alaska MVP benefits

Alaska MVP benefits increase as you go up in status levels. Alaska offers four levels of elite status:

  1. MVP.

  2. MVP Gold.

  3. MVP Gold 75K.

  4. MVP Gold 100K.

The MVP Gold 100K tier was rolled out in early 2022 and members are eligible for this level if they've earned over 100,000 EQMs and have flown at least 24 segments with Alaska in 2021.

Each level provides bonus frequent flyer miles (so you'll earn Alaska Airlines miles way faster than everyone else), as well as tons of other benefits like the opportunity for upgrades to premium and first class and free checked bags.

Given how Alaska baggage fees start at $30 for your first bag, that alone could be a huge, money-saving benefit (and it's available even to the folks with the lowest level of elite status), and can be way more relevant for folks who don't really care about the minor perks like dedicated phone lines or early boarding.

Unsurprisingly, the higher levels of Alaska MVP elite status receive even better benefits. Here’s the full breakdown:

Benefits

MVP

MVP Gold

MVP Gold 75K

MVP Gold 100K

Mileage bonus

50%.

100%.

125%, plus 50,000 bonus miles when you attain status.

150%.

First Class upgrade at booking

Y, B fares.

Y, B, H, K fares.

Y, B, H, K, M fares.

Y, B, H,K, M fares.

Premium Class upgrade at booking

Y, B or H fares.

Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fares.

All fares except Saver.

All fares except Saver.

Companion upgrades to first and premium classes

No.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Saver fare upgrades to Premium or First Class within two hours of departure

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Discounted cost of annual Alaska Airlines Lounge and Lounge+ membership. Non-elites pay $450 and $600, respectively.

Alaska Lounge: $350. Alaska Lounge+: $500.

Alaska Lounge: $350. Alaska Lounge+: $500.

Alaska Lounge: $350. Alaska Lounge+: $500.

Alaska Lounge: $350. Alaska Lounge+: $500.

Oneworld reciprocal status

Ruby.

Sapphire.

Emerald.

Emerald.

Free checked bags (for member and companion)

2.

2.

3.

3.

Other flight perks

• Priority check-in and boarding. • Dedicated phone lines for reservations and customer service. • Express security line at select airports.

MVP benefits plus:

• Free same-day standby and waitlist for full flights. • Complimentary same-day flight changes.

MVP Gold benefits, plus:

• Four complimentary Alaska Lounge day passes. • Ability to nominate someone for MVP status (so they get the benefits without having to earn the status). • 1 one-way international upgrade certificate on American Airlines.

MVP Gold 75K benefits, plus:

• 2 one-way international upgrade certificates on American Airlines.

The benefits listed apply to flights on Alaska Airlines. You can get similar benefits on partner airlines, but the details vary. Check Alaska Airlines' website for more information.

In 2023, Alaska rolled out a fresh perk for those with Alaska 100K elite status, the 100K Choice Benefit.

This benefit gives Alaska MVP Gold 100K elites a choice of five options :

  • 50,000 bonus miles: NerdWallet values 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles at $600.

  • Complimentary Alaska Lounge+ membership: Typically costs $550 for Mileage Plan elites.

  • Gifting MVP Gold Status: NerdWallet values MVP Gold Status at $2,160.

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi: A monthly Wi-Fi pass is about $50, so complimentary Wi-Fi for a year could save you $600.

  • Complimentary Clear Plus membership: Typically costs $189.

Mileage bonus: Alaska elite members earn extra frequent flyer miles for flying. For example, if you have MVP Gold status and receive a 100% mileage bonus, you’ll earn a total of 2,000 miles for a 1,000-mile-long flight. Note that this bonus only applies to miles flown, not those earned through credit cards or other means. Additionally, the bonus does not apply to elite-qualifying miles (see below).

How much is Alaska MVP elite status worth?

That’s the question, isn’t it? After all, if you’re going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a given airline, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth in the value of elite status benefits.

In NerdWallet’s annual analysis of the best airline elite status programs, we sought to determine how much value the major U.S. airline loyalty programs deliver to flyers. Here's how Alaska's Mileage Plan MVP status program did.

MVP

MVP Gold

MVP Gold 75k

MVP Gold 100K

Value

$830.

$2,240.

$5,925.

$8,700.

Cost to earn

$2,400.

$4,800.

$9,000.

$12,000.

Elite reward rate

35%.

47%.

66%.

73%.

The “value” (first row) is just what it sounds like: How much the perks, upgrades and other benefits are worth. This assumes that you fly as much with Alaska as is required to earn each status level. That is, if you earn MVP Gold 75K status but then only fly sparingly in the following year, you obviously won’t see the full value in benefits.

The next two rows are equally important, because the real “value” of a given elite level is always relative to how much it costs to earn. We boil this down as the “elite reward rate,” which is simply the value of each MVP level divided by the cost to earn it.

Frequently asked questions

Based on our analysis, Alaska MVP status is worth $810 and costs $2,400 to earn.

Based on our analysis, Alaska MVP Gold status is worth $2,160 and costs $4,800 to earn.

Based on our analysis, Alaska MVP Gold 75k status is worth $5,638 and costs $9,000 to earn.

Based on our analysis, Alaska MVP Gold 100k status is worth $8,300 and costs $12,000 to earn.

How to get Alaska Airlines elite status

Alaska elite status is earned in one of three ways:

  1. Earning enough elite-qualifying miles within a calendar year.

  2. Earning enough elite-qualifying segments within a calendar year.

  3. Matching status from another airline (see “status matching” below).

Qualifying flights

MVP

MVP Gold

MVP Gold 75K

MVP Gold 100K

Eligible miles earned on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld alliance and global partners

20,000.

40,000.

75,000.

100,000.

Eligible segments flown on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld alliance and global partners

30.

60.

90.

140.

Qualification via eligible miles or segments must include this minimum number of flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines

2.

6.

12.

24.

Elite-qualifying miles are miles earned by flying on Alaska and its qualifying partners. They do not include:

  • Bonuses earned from loyalty status.

  • Miles earned on co-branded credit cards.

  • Award tickets (which do not earn any miles).

Elite-qualifying segments are the individual portions of a given itinerary. So a roundtrip flight with a stop in each direction would earn four qualifying segments.

Here’s how many miles or segments you need to earn each elite status level:

MVP

MVP Gold

MVP Gold 75k

MVP Gold 100K

Earn this many elite-qualifying miles

20,000.

40,000.

75,000.

100,000.

OR earn this many elite-qualifying segments

30.

60.

90.

140.

Credit card benefits vs. elite status

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

If you don't fly Alaska enough to earn elite status, or you're working your way toward elite status, you can access some elite-type benefits by carrying the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card. This $95-a-year card earns 3 miles per dollar spent with Alaska Airlines, as well as on eligible gas; EV charging; cable; streaming services; and local transit, which includes ridesharing, trains, tolls and ferries. Other spending earns 1 mile per dollar. Perks include:

  • First checked bag free on Alaska Airlines flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation when you pay for your flight with your card.

  • Priority boarding.

  • Get a Companion Fare from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) each account anniversary after you spend $6,000 or more on purchases within the prior anniversary year. Terms apply.

  • $100 discount on an Alaska Lounge+ Membership when you pay for it with the card.

  • New cardholder bonus offer: Get 70,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

First class Alaska flight upgrades

One of the most compelling — and confusing — benefits of MVP elite status is the opportunity to receive Alaska flight upgrades from the main cabin to first class.

There are three ways to leverage your elite status to get yourself in front of the curtain:

  1. Instantly upgrade to first class by purchasing an appropriate “First Upgrade” ticket.

  2. Join the waiting list for complimentary upgrades.

  3. Use an MVP Guest Gold guest upgrade.

1. Buy an appropriate 'First Upgrade' ticket

Each flight has a certain number of “First Upgrade” fares available. As an Alaska elite, you can buy these fares directly at a lower price than the full first-class fare. You have to use the Alaska search tool.

To see these fares, select the “all search options” below the flight search tool on the Alaska homepage.

Then select the “Upgrade Type” dropdown and select your personal elite status level.

You’ll be presented with a search result that looks like this:

Note the all-important “F” box to the right of the departure time. A blue box indicates that the fare is available for immediate upgrade. A white box indicates that it isn’t. In general, you’ll only want to select the available blue fares. As you can see above, the MVP Gold upgrade fare is only $444 compared to $649 for the normal first-class ticket.

These upgrades do not apply to companions on the same itinerary who do not have the same MVP status.

Note that elite status holders flying Alaska’s basic economy Saver fares are now eligible for upgrades to premium or first class two hours prior to departure.

2. Join the waitlist for complimentary upgrades

If you don’t want to shell out extra for an instant upgrade, you can always roll the dice and hope for a complimentary one. If you have elite status with Alaska, you’ll automatically qualify for a complimentary upgrade, unless you opt out.

Your chances of scoring a free upgrade depends on a number of factors:

  • The availability of first-class seats.

  • Your elite status level.

  • The number of Alaska elites on the same flight.

  • The “fare class” of your ticket (generally, how expensive it was).

  • When your ticket was purchased.

Complimentary upgrades begin clearing 120 hours prior to departure for MVP Gold 75K members, though the upgrade waitlist is only viewable 24 hours prior to departure.

Overwhelmed? Don’t worry — Alaska will handle everything after you opt in for the upgrade.

3. Use an MVP Guest Gold upgrade

MVP Gold, Gold 75K and Gold 100K members receive four Gold guest upgrades per year. The term “guest” here is a little misleading since they can be used to upgrade your own travel, as well as anyone else flying on Alaska.

The upgrades can be applied to any Alaska flight with first-class availability, except tickets in the Q, O, G, or X classes of service. Basically, you should use the “MVP Gold Guest” selection in the search dropdown when looking for a qualifying ticket.

mvp gold booking

Again, look for flights with the blue “F” and avoid those with a white “F.”

What does premium class get you?

Alaska’s premium class at the front of the main cabin offers extra legroom and perks such as a free alcoholic drinks. Cash upgrades start at $15 per leg and vary based on the length of the flight. Alaska elite flyers are eligible for free upgrades. The process for premium-class upgrades is similar to first class, with a few differences.

Some fares are eligible for instant upgrades, depending on your MVP level. When searching on the Alaska tool, enter your elite level in the “upgrade type” field. The price of a premium-class fare will appear in a separate column.

Note: You can ignore the “F” boxes when researching premium-class upgrades.

Similar to first-class upgrades, main cabin fares are eligible for complimentary upgrades based on availability and your elite level. Keep in mind that Saver fares are now eligible for premium-class upgrades two hours prior to departure based on availability and elite level.

Elite benefits on Alaska’s airline partners

Alaska’s 23 airline partners offer a good way to earn elite-qualifying miles, especially when flying internationally. Alaska is a member of Oneworld, so customers receive reciprocal benefits when flying on airlines within that alliance.

Earning on partners

Before you book an around-the-world flight hoping to score MVP Gold 75K status, keep in mind:

  • Flying economy class on most partners may result in earning just 25% of the actual miles flown.

The number of miles earned varies by partner and fare class. Check each partner page to calculate how many elite-qualifying miles you’ll receive from a given flight.

🤓Nerdy Tip

First-class and business-class tickets on British Airways offer “class of service” bonuses up to 200% of flown miles. A 10,000-mile flight in first class (F) will earn 30,000 elite-qualifying miles (10,000 miles + 20,000 class of service miles), enough for instant MVP status.

Partner and Oneworld benefits

Due to its membership in Oneworld, Alaska elites receive reciprocal Oneworld status, which offers benefits when flying on those airlines.

  • Alaska MVP elites receive Oneworld Ruby status. This offers some seat selection benefits when flying with Oneworld airlines.

  • Alaska MVP Gold elites receive Oneworld Sapphire status. This offers seat selection benefits, business class lounge access, priority boarding and baggage allowance when flying with Oneworld airlines.

  • Alaska MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold 100K elites receive Oneworld Emerald status. This offers seat selection benefits, first and business-class lounge access, priority boarding, expedited security, and baggage allowance when flying with Oneworld airlines.

In addition to those Oneworld benefits, some of Alaska’s partners separately extend lounge access to MVP Gold, Gold 75K and Gold 100K members when flying through their hubs. Those partners include:

  • British Airways (London-Heathrow).

  • Icelandair (Keflavik).

  • Hainan airlines (multiple airports in mainland China).

  • Qantas (multiple airports in Australia).

Alaska status match

Already have status with another domestic airline and are interested in switching to (or testing out) the MVP program? Alaska offers one of the most generous and straightforward status matching programs out there.

To see which MVP level you qualify for based on your current airline elite status, check this Alaska Airlines status match page.

To receive the status match, you’ll need to prove your current elite status through Alaska’s status match tool. All you’ll need is a screenshot of your current status membership page.

Note:

  • You’ll only receive the corresponding status until the end of the calendar year; it will not extend into the following year. So it’s generally best to do your status match as early in the year as possible.

  • You can only status match once.

Alaska elite status, recapped

Alaska’s MVP elite status program is a great way to improve your flying experience. The details of the program can feel overwhelming at first, but compared to many other domestic programs, it’s actually fairly straightforward. Now that Alaska is part of Oneworld, the program is even more valuable. The only thing you need to do to earn MVP status is fly a bunch on Alaska and its partners.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.