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Alaska Airlines Implements Changes to Upgrade Process for Elites

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James Larounis
James Larounis's image

James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...

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Upgrades are one of the most coveted benefits of an airline’s frequent flyer program, and anytime an airline makes changes to that process it can cause quite a stir. Alaska Airlines has recently made 3 adjustments to its upgrade process for elite status members, and fortunately, these changes won’t have too much of an impact on most travelers.

All Eligible Passengers Will Show on a Single Waitlist

One of the challenges Alaska Airlines (and, to be frank, many other airlines) has had is that an upgrade waitlist would only show passengers checked in. So, if you were the first person in line for the upgrade, but at the last minute a higher passenger checked in, your position on the upgrade list would drop. This would be rather confusing to passengers as they’d watch their position adjust within 24 hours depending on the status of other passengers and when they checked in.

Now, Alaska will publish a single waitlist with all eligible passengers on the list, no matter if they’ve checked in or not.

Alaska first class upgrade
All passengers, regardless of if they have checked in, will now appear on the upgrade list. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

Companions Will Be Listed on the Upgrade List

If you’re traveling with a companion that you’ll be upgrading, that companion will now be listed on the upgrade list as the same priority as you. Previously, these companions may not have shown on the list at all, so it was rather confusing to tell what position they were at or if their upgrade had even been requested. Moving forward, the elite status passenger and companion will display together on the upgrade list.

Within 24 Hours, Your Priority for Upgrades Will Include Fare Class

If you requested your upgrade within 24 hours prior to departure, your upgrade request will include your elite status level, fare class, and time of request. Previously, upgrades requested within this time did not include the fare class, so passengers making last-minute adjustments or bookings were at a disadvantage when requesting an upgrade. This change is especially positive for those who purchase expensive tickets.

Hot Tip: Check out our in-depth guide on how to upgrade to first class on Alaska Airlines.

Final Thoughts

All in all, these changes to upgrades on Alaska Airlines are positive and will create more transparency for elite members and equability for all passengers, regardless of when they request an upgrade. Less confusion among members is great for building loyalty, and Alaska’s changes will make the upgrade process simpler and easier to understand.

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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