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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why Alaska Airlines is My New Favorite Carrier

Source: VNAFlyer
You may have noticed that, while this blog is about the airline industry in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, I write quite a bit about Alaska Airlines (AS).

Truth be told, being based in the United States, American Airlines (AA) is my carrier of choice, so much so that I reached 2 Million Miler status and earned lifetime Platinum (PLT) status.

However, AA has very limited routes along the west coast, so relies instead on their deep codesharing and frequent flyer partnership with AS.  Splitting my time between Los Angeles and Seattle and flying AS has given me the chance to truly appreciate the level of service AS provides.

What started as an incidental exposure on a few codeshare flights led me to request a status match with AS, which was gladly granted.  By virtue of my AA PLT status, AS matched me to their mid-tier equivalent MVP Gold (MVPG) status, which normally requires 40,000 miles flown on AS only, or 50,000 miles flown on AS and its partners.

I have to say that I've been very happy flying AS.  Don't get me wrong, I quite enjoy flying AA and the benefits as an elite there. However, AS has definitely won me over with its customer-friendly policies for everyone, and generous benefits for elites. The AA+AS partnership is a fantastic one-two knockout punch.

Alaska's partner airlines chart.
Being a regional carrier that uses only variants of the Boeing 737 (B737) in its mainline operations, Alaska's shortcoming is the lack of long-haul international flights; however, it makes up for that by forging partnerships with several international airlines across alliances, a novel but effective approach for the independent carrier.

In fact, one can earn both redeemable miles (for award flights) and elite-qualifying miles (for elite status) towards AS's Mileage Plan (MP) program on no less than 5 Oneworld airlines (AA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, LAN, and Qantas) and 5 Skyteam airlines (AeroMexico, Air France, Delta, KLM, and Korean Air), along with Middle East powerhouse Emirates and South Pacific carrier Fiji Airways.

As an mid-tier elite, I've been 100% successful on being upgraded into first class (6 of 6), and have also taken advantage of their Same Day Flight Change, where elites can switch to a different flight on the day of departure for no charge, so long as there is a seat available. Even for non-elites, the cost is only $25, which is very reasonable and doesn't require a passenger to sweat it out at the gate, since once the change is confirmed and the passenger is reticketed onto the new flight.

Other things like power at almost every seat, streaming entertainment, a liberal Price Guarantee, and their 20-minute Baggage Service Guarantee puts Alaska towards the front of the pack for domestic US flying.

I really am a fan of AS, especially in light of recent heavy competition from Delta (DL) moving into AS's home hub, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), as their own new hub and gateway to Asia (and yes, you did just read that AS and DL are supposed to be partners). Alaska has been lauded by experts for its ability to hold its own against one of the world's largest airlines in what's been popularly referred to as "The Battle in Seattle."

Since I'm now flying AS so much, I've decided to start a companion blog, ASFlyer, so that I can put in my AS-specific posts there.  In fact, I went into more detail in my first post on ASFlyer, "Why I Love Alaska Airlines, and Why You Should Too."


Follow ASFlyer for most information and updates on Alaska Airlines... the little airline that could.

1 comment:

  1. Alaska Airlines Flights Booking USA- Alaska Airlines is A major carrier, along with its sister concern Horizon Air is closely integrated into Alaska's operations. These airlines share a number of routes. It does not have code share agreement with any major airline, but it does have agreements with some members of Oneworld and SkyTeam such as British Airways, American Airlines, Air France, Korean Air etc.

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