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Alaska Airlines Changing Saver Fares [Miles Earned, Elite Upgrades]

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

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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...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Alaska Airlines has implemented a number of new changes to its lowest fare class, Saver fares, that may impact you as a flyer. If you tend to purchase the lowest fares on Alaska, these changes will impact how you earn miles and certain elite benefits.

What Are Saver Fares?

Saver fares are Alaska’s version of basic economy. They’re the cheapest tickets on the plane and come with a host of restrictions. Up until now, these tickets were extremely restrictive and couldn’t be changed, and elite benefits were limited.

New Changes

Upgrades

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan elite customers, including those MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K, will now be eligible for complimentary upgrades. Previously, upgrades were not offered on these fares. If you’re an elite customer, you’ll be added to the upgrade list at 2 hours prior to departure and you’ll be added to the list in your normal positions, according to elite status type.

Alaska seatmates toasting
You’ll now have a chance at upgrades on Saver fares. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

Because you’re only being added at 2 hours out, you’ll obviously miss any upgrades that are processed at the normal windows, so your upgrade chances are much slimmer, but you’ll still have a shot at an upgrade.

Hot Tip:

If you value upgrades and are on a busy or transcontinental route, you may wish to consider purchasing a non-Saver fare ticket to be able to be upgraded at the normal elite window.

Earning Miles

Saver fares used to earn 100% of miles flown as miles toward your MileagePlan account. This means that if your flight was 1,000 miles, you’d earn 1,000 miles. Now, Alaska will only award 30% of the miles flown on Saver fares, a major reduction for those that fly these cheaper fares.

Canceling Your Ticket

On July 19th, 2023, Alaska will be making Saver fares less restrictive. If you are able to cancel your ticket more than 14 days from departure, you’ll receive a credit (voucher) for 50% of the ticket cost (and 100% of any taxes you paid). Previously, your ticket would have been a total loss, so it’s nice to receive at least some credit back. Unfortunately, if you cancel less than 2 weeks before departure, you’ll have to forfeit your ticket’s entire value.

Final Thoughts

While the reduction in miles earned is obviously a major negative, the ability to upgrade and receive some credit back on canceled tickets is a huge plus. Purchasing a Saver fare is usually never recommended as these tickets still come with heavy restrictions, though it’s nice to see some perks being added back in.

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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