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Benefits Change for Alaska Elites on American Basic Economy Tickets

James Larounis's image
James Larounis
James Larounis's image

James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

563 Published Articles 1 Edited Article

Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

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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American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are both in the Oneworld alliance, and Alaska’s Mileage Plan has very close ties to American’s AAdvantage frequent flyer program. Among many benefits, Alaska elites receive extra legroom seating, complimentary upgrades, and free changes on American flights.

A recent change leaves Alaska elites who book Basic Economy fares without certain perks. There are 2 new changes we’ll review today.

No More Extra Legroom Seating

If you’re an Alaska Mileage Plan MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K (and soon to be MVP Gold 100K), you will no longer be able to select a Main Cabin Extra seat for free if you book an American Airlines Basic Economy ticket (fare code “E”). If you want to select one of these extra legroom seats for free, you’ll need to book a regular Main Cabin fare. For long flights, these extra legroom seats can be extra valuable, so depending on the cost difference between Basic Economy and the Main Cabin, you’ll want to consider buying up to enjoy this valuable elite perk.

No More Same-Day Changes

American Airlines masked flight attendant and passengers
If you want to change your flight for free on the day of departure, you’ll need to be flying a non-Basic Economy fare moving forward if you’re an Alaska Airlines elite. Image Credit: American Airlines

A very valuable perk to Alaska Mileage Plan 75K members is the ability to same-day change their flight when flying on American. You’ll need to have the same exact origin and destination and keep the same routing (making this perk especially useful on people flying high-frequency hub-to-hub routes), but you can move to an earlier or later flight and be confirmed with a new seat. Now, if you’re flying on a Basic Economy ticket, you won’t be able to switch your flight for free.

Why These Changes Are Happening

Because American and Alaska operate a large network within the U.S., they need to be mindful of the perks they provide their frequent flyers — they can’t make 1 program particularly more rewarding than the other as elites from 1 airline can simply credit to the other airline to enjoy a better experience. Keeping this theme in mind, Alaska has eliminated many benefits of their Basic Economy fares and both airlines want to create an environment that doesn’t encourage an Alaska elite to book American to receive a perk they otherwise wouldn’t receive on their “home” airline.

Final Thoughts

If flying in a seat with extra legroom or changing your flight is important to you, you’ll want to review your itinerary to ensure you are not flying in Basic Economy. Alaska Airlines’ elites have many elite perks when flying American, but the cheapest fares no longer provide the benefits that they used to.

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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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