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How To Upgrade to First Class on Alaska Airlines [In-Depth Guide]

Christine Krzyszton's image
Christine Krzyszton

Christine Krzyszton

Senior Finance Contributor

Countries Visited: 98U.S. States Visited: 45

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, deta...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury

Keri Stooksbury


Countries Visited: 39U.S. States Visited: 28

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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It’s easy to envy our traveling friends who live in the western U.S. since they have direct access to flying Alaska Airlines on a regular basis.

Alaska Airlines is firmly planted in the West Coast hub cities of Seattle (SEA), Portland (PDX), Anchorage (ANC), San Francisco (SFO), and Los Angeles (LAX), but it flies to 115 destinations throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and even Costa Rica.

We’ve heard loyalists rave about its Mileage Plan frequent flyer program to the point of a cult following but the airline’s recent leap to membership in the Oneworld alliance has created even more excitement.

If you’re one of the many Alaska Airlines loyalists, knowing how its upgrade process works is probably high on your list.

Even if you’re only an occasional Alaska Airlines flyer, you may still find it useful to be able to score an upgrade on that flight to Anchorage to hook up with your cruise ship, for that commute up the West Coast, or that weekend trip to Mexico.

Fortunately, our article focuses on everything you need to know about upgrading to a first class seat on Alaska Airlines, including the types of upgrades available, the upgrade hierarchy of elite status, and how to upgrade with miles or cash.

Want an upgrade on Alaska Airlines? Let’s dive right in and find out how to do it.

Types of Alaska Airlines Upgrades

Alaska Airlines has several types of upgrades available. Most are limited to just those travelers who have elite status, but there are also upgrades that non-elite travelers can access.

First, some clarifications:

  • Alaska Airlines defines its Premium Class as those seats toward the front of the main cabin; they have 4 inches of additional legroom, include early boarding, and provide complimentary alcoholic beverages
  • Elite members are those who have attained elite status in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flyer program

Complimentary Upgrades

  • First Class Upgrades —Elite members receive unlimited complimentary upgrades to first class in order of elite status
  • Fare Class Upgrades — Elite members are eligible for immediate upgrades into Premium Class when purchasing qualifying fares, provided space is available
  • Premium Class Upgrades — Elite members receive unlimited complimentary upgrades to Premium Class in order of elite status
  • Companion Upgrades — Certain elite members can upgrade 1 companion traveling with them
  • Guest Upgrades — Certain elite members receive guest upgrade certificates each year, which can be used when guests are not traveling with the elite member
  • First Class Upgrades — All travelers may purchase first class upgrades based on availability at 24 hours prior to departure

Upgrade With Miles

  • First Class Upgrades — All travelers may purchase first class upgrades with miles when purchasing their ticket or on an existing reservation (based on availability)

Bottom Line: You don’t have to have elite status to purchase a first class ticket to travel in the front of the plane, but availability is the key to purchasing an upgrade or securing one with miles. 

Alaska Upgrade Priority: Who Gets the Upgrade First?

You don’t have to have elite status to be able to purchase a first class upgrade on Alaska. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

The Importance of Elite Status

Upgrades are the most treasured benefit an airline can bestow, so it’s no wonder airlines reserve upgrades for their best customers.

Alaska Airlines is no different, and it distributes its complimentary upgrades in order of elite status hierarchy from highest to lowest.

There are 4 levels of elite status in its Mileage Plan frequent flyer program:

  • MVP Gold 100K
  • MVP Gold 75K
  • MVP Gold
  • MVP

Here’s how upgrades are distributed among the elites:

Type of UpgradeMVPMVP GoldMVP Gold 75K/MVP Gold 100K
First class upgrades at time of bookingY, S, or Z faresY, S, B, M, or Z faresY, S, B, M, H, or Z fares
Premium Class upgrades at time of bookingY, S, B, or Z faresY, S, B, M, H, Q, L, B, N, K, or Z faresAll fares
First and Premium Class upgrades on discounted fares48 hours prior to departure72 hours prior to departure120 hours prior to departure, MVP Gold 100K having the highest waitlist priority
Companion upgrades to first classN/AYesYes
Companion upgrades to Premium ClassN/AYesYes
4 one-way first class guest upgradesN/AYesYes
International Upgrade Certificates on American AirlinesN/AN/A1 for MVP Gold 75K, 2 for MVP Gold 100K each year

If a complimentary upgrade is not cleared immediately, elites will be put on a waitlist and cleared in order of elite status level, fare class, and time of waitlisting.

Companion Upgrade Options for Elite Members

In addition to complimentary upgrades for the elite flyer, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K elite members receive the benefit of complimentary upgrades for their travel companion.

If the traveling companion is not on the same reservation, the Gold elite member needs to call Mileage Plan customer service to upgrade the companion.

Only 1 companion upgrade is allowed. If there is more than 1 companion included on the same reservation, no upgrade will be granted for the entire reservation.

In addition to complimentary travel companion upgrades, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K members receive 4 one-way first class guest upgrade certificates each year. These certificates can be used for travelers who are not flying with the elite member.

Redeeming your guest companion upgrade certificate is simple when purchasing a new ticket or redeeming it on an existing reservation. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

Guest upgrade certificates can be redeemed online when purchasing a ticket by selecting MVP Gold Guest under the Upgrade fare type when booking your reservation, or within your existing reservation by selecting MVP Gold guest upgrade next to your flight confirmation code.

How To Purchase an Alaska Airlines First Class Upgrade

It is possible to purchase an upgrade on your existing Alaska or SkyWest ticket (operating on behalf of Alaska) within 24 hours of the flight departure through online check-in.

Prices for one-way upgrades to first class are based on distance and start at $23.

You may also be able to purchase an upgrade on the day of departure at a kiosk, airport ticket counter, or at the departure gate. Upgrades are subject to availability, of course, and more likely to be offered on less-traveled routes.

Hot Tip: It is possible to secure a paid first class upgrade even if you don’t have elite status with Alaska Airlines. Available upgrade inventory (look for “U” class) is released for sale once all complimentary elite member upgrades have cleared. So if you’re interested in an upgrade, be proactive, ask at the gate, and don’t wait for an announcement that there are upgrades for sale. 

Upgrading With Mileage Plan Miles

How To Upgrade With Miles When Purchasing a Ticket

Upgrading to first class with miles is easy when purchasing your Alaska Airlines ticket. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

It’s easy to use your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles to upgrade your flight when purchasing a ticket. Flights operated by Alaska Airlines or SkyWest on behalf of Alaska Airlines are eligible.

You simply visit and enter your departure/destination information as normal into the Book section. Once flights are displayed, just select Mileage from the Upgrade fare type — fares shown with an “F” in a solid blue box are the ones with upgrade availability.

A one-way first class upgrade will cost 15,000 Mileage Plan miles.

How To Upgrade an Existing Reservation With Miles

To upgrade to first class on an existing Alaska Airlines reservation with miles, you would need to call Alaska Airlines reservations at 800-252-7522. The price is the same at 15,000 Mileage Plan miles for a one-way upgrade and includes connecting flights.

Upgrading on Partner Airlines

You cannot use Mileage Plan miles to upgrade on partner airlines at this time.

The Value of an Alaska Airlines Credit Card

Having an Alaska Airlines-branded credit card won’t get you upgraded on an Alaska Airlines flight, but it can jump-start your earnings for plenty of Mileage Plan miles that can be redeemed for upgrades and more.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card offers 2 opportunities to receive the popular companion ticket within the first year of having the card.

  • Earn a generous welcome bonus after completing the required minimum spending on the card within the first 3 months after card approval.
  • Earn a Companion Fare ticket each year at your account anniversary for $99 plus taxes and fees. 
  • Get a free checked bag on Alaska Airlines flights for you and up to 6 other guests on the same reservation.
  • Earn 3 miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

If you fly Alaska Airlines or have plans to in the near future, having the Alaska Signature card makes perfect sense. The miles you’ll earn from the generous sign-up bonus, 2 companion fare tickets, and the ongoing earning potential all result in bottom-line good value.

Bottom Line: With just 1 annual family trip on Alaska Airlines after securing the Alaska Signature card, you’ll have saved enough on baggage fees alone to offset the $95 annual fee. 

First Class Upgrades for American Airlines AAdvantage Elites

If you have Executive Platinum or Platinum Pro elite status with American Airlines AAdvantage, you qualify for reciprocal complimentary upgrades to Premium Class and first class upgrades on Alaska Airlines.

Upgrades will be confirmed as early as 120 hours from departure but only after all MVP Gold 100K and MVP Gold 75K member upgrades have cleared.

Alaska Airlines Saver fares do not qualify for upgrades.

Increase Your Chances of an Upgrade With Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines’ upgrade policies are straightforward, so there’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to securing an upgrade. Knowing the rules, however, can give you an edge up.

With Elite Status

  • Achieving top Mileage Plan elite status is the primary way to secure complimentary upgrades on Alaska Airlines.
  • Select flights with available upgrade space. When booking flights, increase your chances of a complimentary upgrade by searching for flights with first class upgrade availability under Upgrade fare type.
  • Use Alaska Mileage Plan miles for premium fare award tickets. Mileage Plan miles can be used to purchase premium cabin flights on Alaska and its partner airlines.
  • Utilize your American AAdvantage Executive Platinum or Platinum Pro elite status to receive first class upgrades on Alaska Airlines.

Without Elite Status

  • Consider 24-hour purchase upgrades. You may be able to purchase first class upgrades for as little as $29 at check-in, at airport kiosks, or at the departure gate.
  • Upgrade with miles when purchasing your ticket. A first class upgrade can be yours at the point of purchase for 15,000 Mileage Plan miles.
  • Upgrade an existing reservation with miles. Use 15,000 Mileage Plan miles to upgrade an existing reservation by calling Alaska Airlines.
  • Securing a guest upgrade code. Non-elites can be upgraded by MVP Gold members using upgrade certificates.
  • Utilize Money & Miles to discount your fare. You don’t need to have elite status to use the Money & Miles option to secure discounted first class fares — just a few miles in your Mileage Plan account. The Money and Miles option gives you up to a 50% discount on the fare: 10,000 miles is good for $100 off the base fare, and 20,000 miles equals $200 off.
  • Use Alaska Mileage Plan miles for premium fare tickets. You do not need elite status to purchase premium cabin tickets on Alaska and partner airlines.

First Class Seats on Oneworld Alliance Partner Airlines

Use your Mileage Plan miles to purchase first class seating on partner airlines. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is a recent member of the Oneworld alliance, joining 13 other airline members, but it has codeshare agreements with several airlines listed below. A codeshare agreement is basically an arrangement between airlines to use the same flight number though the flight may be marketed or operated by either airline.

It’s worth noting that Mileage Plan miles can be used to purchase first class seats on some partner airlines.

While Alaska Mileage Plan elite members receive priority seating on Oneworld airlines (indicated by *) paid flights, you cannot use Alaska Airlines miles for first class upgrades on paid flights at this time.

  • Aer Lingus
  • American Airlines*
  • British Airways*
  • Cathay Pacific*
  • Condor Flugdienst
  • El Al Isreal Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair*
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Iberia*
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines*
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines*
  • Qantas*
  • Qatar Airways*
  • Ravn Alaska
  • Royal Air Maroc*
  • Royal Jordanian*
  • S7 Airlines* (temporarily suspended from OneWorld)
  • Singapore Airlines*
  • SriLankan Airlines

Final Thoughts

Alaska Airlines’ upgrade policy is thorough, but knowing the rules can give you a slight advantage over others who haven’t taken the time to review their options.

For example, upgrades are available for purchase 24 hours before departure if available. If you’re really interested in an upgrade and none are available at 24 hours, you can keep checking and maybe find one that comes available before your flight.

Another example is being able to purchase an upgrade with 15,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles. If you weren’t aware of this option, you might sit in the back of the plane on your significant other’s 40th birthday trip, when just 30,000 miles could have made it a special event.

If you’re a member of a frequent flyer program, it always pays to know how the program works for the purpose of leveraging your options when the situation arises.

The information regarding the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prices for one-way upgrades to first class are based on distance and start at $23.

Upgrade space is released for sale 24 hours before departure after all complimentary elite upgrades have cleared, so availability to purchase upgrades is limited.

You could also use miles to upgrade your flight at the rate of 15,000 miles per flight.

On the flight search page, you may purchase a first class upgrade with miles when you buy your ticket. Under the Upgrade fare type, select Mileage.

The flights that show up with an “F” encased in a solid blue box have first class space available. You would select your flights, finish your purchase, then call Alaska Airlines to have the miles deducted out of your account and the ticket issued.

To upgrade an existing reservation, just call Alaska Airlines reservations at 800-252-7522. The price of 15,000 miles is the same for the one-way upgrade.

You cannot use Mileage Plan miles to upgrade on any of Alaska Airlines’ partners at this time.

You can, however, use Mileage Plan miles to purchase flights on Alaska Airline partners, and you can also earn miles when flying on partner airlines.

If you fly on Alaska Airlines, it’s absolutely beneficial to carry an Alaska Airlines credit card. Free checked bag fees alone are worth having the card.

You’ll also be earning a lot of Mileage Plan miles that can be used to purchase flights and upgrades.

If you do not fly Alaska Airlines frequently, an Alaska Airlines credit card still holds value, since you would be earning miles from the welcome bonus and ongoing purchases that can be redeemed on partner airlines.

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, detailed content for UP.


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January 24, 2019

I am curious about first class upgrades by mileage if the “F” box is NOT solid blue. It is still allowing me to purchase the ticket at the higher mileage rate. Does this give me priority if first class mileage upgrades become available? I am watching flights, and currently none of the flights going to where I want to go have upgrades available…but at one point, one flight did, but then it went away. I just don’t want to pay for an upgrade and find out it didn’t do anything. Thanks in advance!

Christine Krzyszton

January 24, 2019

Hi Erin, thanks for your question. So if I understand what you’re asking, you want to use miles to upgrade and the flights you’re finding do not have first class availability for mileage upgrades? But there are first class seats available for purchase? Or first class seats available to purchase with miles? Or just main cabin seats that are more expensive? I need some clarification to answer your question. Thanks so much.


January 30, 2019

Sorry if this is a duplicate response! I am being allowed to purchase a first class upgrade seat with miles, but the “F” box is not solid blue. So does that mean if seats are available at a later date, I will have priority since I purchased at the upgradable price? When I select the flight, I get this message: One or more of your flights does not have First Class upgrade space available. Please confirm your flight information to continue. I am trying to get from WAS to SEA in September. And yes, there are also first class seats available, pretty much all of them! Thank you! I tried calling Alaska Air, but the girl knew nothing. I might just need another customer service rep. 🙂

Christine Krzyszton

January 30, 2019

Hi Erin and thanks for the clarification. So there are two flights on the itinerary you want from WAS to SEA and one of the flights does not have upgrade space available with miles. If you purchase the ticket, you will be able to upgrade one of the flights with miles by calling Alaska Airlines but not the other. I think the question you would want to ask a rep is whether you would be wait listed for the other upgrade and what are the chances of it clearing? We do know, that you would be paying the 15,000 miles for a one-way upgrade whether it is for 1 flight or 2. If all of the first class seats are available, they may just not have released any for upgrading with miles yet on that September flight and the rep may be able to give you alternatives.


March 11, 2019

I tried to use 75K Gold status to buy/upgrade first class but not available but when I clicked on first class guest upgrade it was available so can I use the certificate for my own and my companion?

Christine Krzyszton

March 11, 2019

Hello Hoang. Fortunately you can use your upgrade codes for your own upgrade and for your companion. Alaska Airlines confirms this on their website: “Guest upgrades are electronic upgrade codes given to MVP® Gold members to upgrade friends or family members who are not traveling with them, or for their own use for immediate upgrade when not purchasing a qualifying fare. Once you have qualified for MVP® Gold status, your guest upgrade codes will be deposited into your My account profile.”


April 10, 2019

I am a little confused about upgrading with miles.

1) In your screenshot, the prices (in dollars) in the “first class upgrade” column are the same as those in the “main cabin” column, which is what I would expect (because, after all, you’re paying 15,000 miles to upgrade). When I search, I am seeing very different prices in those columns (e.g. from LAX to NYC on 5/9/19, $149 for Main and $392 for First Class Upgrade). Why is this? Does this mean that I have to essentially pay both $243 AND 15,000 miles to upgrade? Why?

2) Why can I buy a ticket in the “first class upgrade” column (for a lot more money, as I explained above) if there are no upgrades available (the “F” box is white).

In short, I guess I don’t understand why there is a separate column for upgrades at all. I thought I would just buy a normal coach fare (the first column) and then if there’s an upgrade available, pay my 15,000 miles and get a 1st class ticket. What am I missing? Thanks!

Christine Krzyszton

April 10, 2019

Hi Jon. I’ll try to explain briefly. 1) prices are the same for “main cabin” and for “first class upgrade” in the screenshot because I have checked the “mileage” upgrade box on the left. So, a first class ticket is going to be the same price as a main cabin ticket when fare classes are the same. The reason you are seeing different prices in those two columns is that the fare classes are different. Once you check the box, they will be the same if fare classes are the same. So, you would then be paying the main cabin price plus 15,000 miles to upgrade. 2)There may be first class seats available for purchase but all the allocated mileage upgrades have been taken. The assumption in your last paragraph is correct. You can just purchase a ticket in the main cabin and use 15,000 miles to upgrade if the upgrade space is available. Thanks so much and I hope this clarifies things.


April 10, 2019

Thanks for the quick reply! Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but that’s not what I am seeing. Here’s a specific example:

I search for 1-way from LAX to NYC on 5/9 (on the main page, I don’t select an upgrade type). I get search results like I’d normally expect. There are 3 columns – “Saver”, “Main”, and “First Class”. To use a specific flight, #468 is $119 for Saver, $149 for Main, and $699 for First Class. So far so good.

I then check “Mileage” as the upgrade type on the left, which is what I think you were talking about. Now, the 3 columns I see change – they are now “Main”, “First Class Upgrade”, and “First Class.” But the prices for Main and First Class Upgrade are still very different. For the flight above (#468) the “Main” fare is $149 but the “First Class Upgrade” fare is $392 (and the “First Class” fare is $699).

Am I missing something? Are you saying that after I choose “mileage” as the upgrade type, the Main and First Class Upgrade fares should both be $149? They seem not to be in this case (and also for every flight from LA to NY on this day). What does paying the “first class upgrade” price (which is almost triple!) get me that the “main” price does not? If I can buy a “main” ticket and pay 15,000 miles to upgrade to 1st class, why would I buy a “first class upgrade” ticket?

Thanks again!

Christine Krzyszton

April 10, 2019

Sorry Jon, the reason my prices are the same after I checked the mileage upgrade box is because the fare classes were the same. 15,000 mile upgrades can only be used on certain classes (Y, S, B, M, or H). The higher prices you are seeing for the first class upgrade are fares in those classes. Thanks for your patience. I have updated my original answer to clarify that.


April 10, 2019

Ah, got it. That makes a lot more sense – I didn’t even think of that. Thanks!


December 20, 2020

Just found this as we recently rebooked our Alaska Air flight (due to COVID-19). I didn’t pick the fare class when I bought the ticket. The reservation shows it as fare class R. Unfortunately, that is $400 to upgrade for first class + 15,000 miles. Oh well. We had gotten 40,000 miles from getting the credit card, so it’s not like we spent too much. I just find that Alaska Airlines has too many restrictions on their benefits. I’m only flying on them because 2 years ago, they gave me 3 separate credits for some mistakes they made (instead of cash).

Melanie Lukic

April 28, 2019

Yesterday I flew from Seattle to Raleigh (main cabin, not sure what class ticket). I have a mileage card, but am not mvp or elite. I started trying to purchase an upgrade 24 hours in advance….I phoned an agent and I constantly checked the app to see if the option would appear (it didn’t). I was at the airport the afternoon before my flight and asked an agent at the counter if I could upgrade. He said the seats were not released until 4 hours before the flight (this was in Portland). I also checked the app frequently. There were 6 seats showing for sale in first class. As soon as I got to Seattle I went straight to the agent and again asked to upgrade. I could see names on the board of people waiting or assigned, but I could not get my name on the list…the best he could do was take my seat number. I waited to board until the very end and again asked the agent. He said there was one person in front of me and if he didn’t want the last seat I could have it. I boarded…the agent came on board twice, but not to tell me I could upgrade. The flight took off and there was an empty first class seat…..I asked the flight attendant about it. She said it was a paid for seat and the passenger didn’t show up. This was an extremely frustrating experience

Christine Krzyszton

April 28, 2019

Hi Melanie. Thanks for sharing your experience. How frustrating that must have been, especially with the gate agent coming on board twice and the plane taking off with the empty seat. It’s difficult to say why it happened. Possibly there wasn’t time to process the paid upgrade, or another reason, but it’s a shame the gate agent didn’t acknowledge you and tell you why. I am sorry this happened to you.


May 19, 2019

If you buy a ticket on a partner airline with Gold MVP 75k status, are you eligible for an upgrade to the next class of service? For example, Economy to Business on Emirates, Aer Lingus or Finn Air? I don’t think so, but I had purchased a flight in Spain on Iberia from Malaga to Dublin last year on the Iberia website (I’m Platinum Pro on AA) and was surprised to get upgraded upon boarding.

Hi Maureen. Alaska Airlines is not part of any formal airline alliance, so although they have partner airlines with codeshare agreements, there are no reciprocal upgrade benefits. American Airlines is part of One World Alliance of which Iberia is a member also. This factor and your AA status of Platinum Pro accounted for your upgrade. I have had the same experience. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.


June 16, 2019

If I have purchased my tickets in Economy with miles, do I have any option to upgrade? Is my only option the 24 hr cash option? Thanks.

Christine Krzyszton

June 16, 2019

Hello! Only paid tickets are eligible for upgrades with miles. Paid upgrades are only available for tickets purchased in fare categories B, G, H, K, L, M, N, Q, R, S, T, V, W, Y, and Z classes of service. You do have the option, of course, to purchase a first class ticket with miles. Thanks for your questions.


June 17, 2019

Hi there! Once I select the flight and mileage upgrade to first class, it prompts me to choose my seats, none of which appear to be first class. Do I need to skip the seat selection page completely in order to ensure that I will be seated in first class? Thanks in advance for your help!

Christine Krzyszton

June 18, 2019

Hello and thanks for your question. Once your ticket has been purchased (and you’ve selected the option to use a mileage upgrade) you can redeem the First Class mileage upgrade award by calling Alaska Airlines. At that time you can select the First Class seats. The number is 1-800-252-7522.


July 27, 2019

My question is similar to Jon’s. I want to upgrade with miles. The flight I’m looking at is from SMF to OGG. The fares that come up with No Preference checked are Saver (X) for $309, and Main (K) for $339. With Mileage checked they are Main (K) for $339, First Class Upgrade (H) for $469 and of course there is a first class option for both.

If I understand your answer to Jon correctly, the difference between the Main (K) fare for $339 and the First Class Upgrade (H) fare for $469 is that the (H) fare is eligible for an upgrade by points and the (K) fare is not, correct? This of course assumes that the upgrades become available, which they are not currently.

Christine Krzyszton

July 28, 2019

Hi Gary. Yes, only certain classes (Y, S, B, M, or H) are upgradeable.

Renae Tawney

August 28, 2019

When I have purchased the Main cabin fare and decide later to upgrade to first-class, I had to pay the difference in fare price + the 15000 miles. Never have I seen a first-class upgrade the same price as Main cabin. I have also not had the option to upgrade 24hrs before my flight. I do love Alaska and fly to Kona, HI 3-4 times a year from Seattle.

Christine Krzyszton

August 30, 2019

Hi Renae. Only certain fare classes are upgradeable with miles. You can select an upgradeable fare initially or pay the additional amount later, which is what you experienced.Thank you for reading.

Kathy Norton

January 24, 2020

I am new to Alaska Air Visa and yearly companion fare. I want to upgrade my fare and companion fare to 1st class on a trip to Oahu. Can I use miles to do this? Does the companion fare also use miles to upgrade?

Christine Krzyszton

January 24, 2020

Hi Kathy. While upgrades are subject to availability, yes the companion tickets can be upgraded. Here is some more information on the companion ticket and upgrading.

Michele Hessler

January 29, 2020

Let’s say I’m on a flight with two legs, and the first leg has availability and the second leg does not. Can I upgrade the first leg now for 15,000 miles and call later if I see availability for the second leg? Or would I have to pay another 15,000 miles to do so?

Christine Krzyszton

January 30, 2020

Hi Michele. The 15,000 miles would cover both one-way flights. Be sure that both legs have a fare class that is eligible for an upgrade. Once you’ve decided on an itinerary, just call Alaska and they’ll clear the upgrade that is available and request the upgrade for the other leg.

Darinth Douglas

March 04, 2020

I booked a straight shot flight through Alaska for my Carnival Cruise leaving on August 20th, and I will be flying out the morning of August 29th to prevent missing the ship. I booked the flight through Carnival so it will be paid down with the tab. It’s from GEG to LAX and I did want to upgrade to first class once it becomes available. I am not a VIP by any means but I did have a question about the first class upgrade. First, if I upgraded, would I still have to pay for my checked bag? Secondly, would I get everything offered to first class as if I originally booked it in the first place? And lastly, would the upgrade apply roundtrip?

Christine Krzyszton

March 04, 2020

Hi Darinth. Depending on availability, you may be able to book a flight upgrade either one way or round trip. And yes, the first class amenities you receive will normally be the same as when you book directly. In order to receive the correct information about your flight upgrade, however, you should contact Carnival. They will be able to see your reservation, the fare class you booked, contact the airline for you, and answer your questions in detail. Safe travels.


November 03, 2020

I was looking to purchase a coach seat and upgrade with miles, but the ticket they wanted me to buy was more expensive than the first class ticket fare. Why would I pay extra and then waste 15k miles per ticket?

Christine Krzyszton

November 04, 2020

Hi Ramon. If discounted first-class seats are available, occasionally those tickets may be less than an economy fare. If the economy cabin is almost sold out and the first-class cabin is wide open, this could happen. While it’s not normally the case, when it happens, by all means, purchase the first-class ticket.

Brenda Carlson

March 07, 2021

Hi Christine, I have a Mileage Plan card but I’m not an MVP. I booked a one-way ticket in first-class and used my Alaska Airline credit card to pay for the ticket.
My question is, can they just bump me back to coach if an MPV flyer wants a first-class seat. I booked the flight 3 months in advance.

Christine Krzyszton

March 07, 2021

Hi Brenda. Thanks for your question. Once your ticket is issued, it is a legally binding agreement and you are entitled to what you paid for, a first-class seat. It will not be given to another traveler, regardless of their status. Enjoy your trip.

Jerome Starksen

March 19, 2021

We currently have reservations to Palm Springs on Flight 1383 on September 16th.
We are currently in the Main Cabin (Q). My wife was booked using a companion fare.
Confirmation # XXXXX. What are our options to upgrade that flight to First Class for both of us?

Christine Krzyszton

March 20, 2021

Hi Jerome. Keep in mind that we are not Alaska Airlines, we are Upgraded Points, a blog specializing in credit card rewards and travel resources. Your best bet is to access your reservation online and see if there are upgrade options for your specific itinerary or contact Alaska Airlines directly at 1 (800) 252-7522. I have removed your confirmation # for security purposes.


April 19, 2021

Can I purchase, with cash, an upgrade on a partner airline when the coach ticket was secured using Alaska Airlines miles? If so, how?
The reservation is through Alaska but the actual flight is on American.

Christine Krzyszton

April 19, 2021

Hi Robert. American award flights are not eligible to upgrade with cash. You could look into using Alaska miles to purchase a higher-class ticket.


July 22, 2021

Hi Christine,
I am supposed to fly a nonstop flight to Portland, Oregon next Thursday for a wedding. I am concerned regarding the way Alaska is managing the latest Covid concern. I have purchased a mask recommended by a friend who is an RT at the local hospital. Any other concerns that I should have regarding safety? Would it be advisable to possibly upgrade to 1st class? Not sure it would be worth the cash. Would greatly appreciate any advice.
Thank you, Wendy

Christine Krzyszton

July 23, 2021

Hi Wendy. If you would feel more comfortable purchasing an upgrade, you should certainly do so, if it is available and you are ok with the price. However, I have flown Alaska Airlines several times in the past few months and thought they did a fine job with COVID safety.


December 06, 2021

I just received my Alaska Airlines Gold status. It’s December. Do I need to wait until January to get my 4 free first-class upgrades and how do I use them?

Christine Krzyszton

December 06, 2021

Hi Debbie. Congrats on reaching Gold MVP status. The upgrades will be deposited in your Alaska Airlines account and will be ready to use at that time. To use the upgrades, follow the instructions in the article under Companion Upgrade Options for Elite Members. There is also more information regarding the upgrades here:


January 13, 2022

Hi Christine, this was a great article! I’m primarily interested in the mileage upgrade. I read through that section and also through some of the comments and I believe I have a solid understanding, but I just want to confirm because I was putting bits and pieces together from different responses: When I purchase a First Class Upgrade using mileage, as long as the “F” box is solid blue, I am guaranteed a First Class seat, correct? I just need to skip the seat selection, give Alaska a call at 1-800-252-7522 and ask them to apply the upgrade, at which point they will debit 15,000 from my mileage account? Thanks in advance!

Christine Krzyszton

January 14, 2022

Hi Danielle. If the flight has upgrade inventory available, yes, you can call and request the upgrade and miles will be deducted. Be sure to check the cash price of a first class ticket, however, as sometimes the difference to purchase a first class ticket is a better value than using your miles for the upgrade.


February 06, 2022

Alaska Airlines customer support says I cannot upgrade using miles 🙁

Christine Krzyszton

February 06, 2022

Sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, not all flights are available for an upgrade using miles. Did the customer service rep explain why you couldn’t upgrade using miles?


March 18, 2023

When is best time to upgrade my existing reservation, we currently have main cabin reservations going to Fairbanks AK Thank you

Christine Krzyszton

March 24, 2023

Hi Ted. I would give Alaska Airlines a call right away and if upgrades are available, take them.


July 07, 2023

Hello and thank you for this information. I have had the Alaska credit card for around 20 years now and did not fully understand the upgrades ever since the good old days when they use to come complimentary with the card. I have been debating getting rid of the card for a while but want to use all our points first. It just seems to not be worth it to me lately as I can find flight cheaper with other airlines even when using the companion fare. Would you suggest keeping it? Or do you think or know of another option that may be better? Thanks again.

Christine Krzyszton

July 08, 2023

Hi Chris. It’s difficult to say whether you should cancel the card. First, your credit history is affected by your average length of credit and since you’ve had the card so long, you may not want to cancel it. Especially, if it is your oldest card. With that said, it doesn’t make sense to pay an annual fee on a card you never use. If you take just 1 Alaska Airlines flight each year and save baggage fees for 2 people, that’s reason enough, in my opinion, to keep the card. Also, you may consider shorter flights for using your companion fare or flights that might position you to cities where there is a discounted fare you can use. If you fly on other airlines frequently and want a card that earns flexible rewards, you might consider a travel rewards card. Hope this helps you decide. Here is our related article on travel rewards cards: /credit-cards/best-visa-credit-cards/


August 16, 2023

Any thoughts on timing of availability of first class upgrades with miles? I am booking flights to FRA in June of next year. First class upgrades with miles were available for return trip, but not at all for outgoing leg. Do I keep checking? Is there a way to know if the mileage upgrades will ever be offered?

Christine Krzyszton

August 18, 2023

Hi Jimmi. Mileage upgrades are based on availability and, of course, that can change over time. Since your flight is not until next June, mileage upgrades could become available but there is no way to know in advance. So yes, keep checking and even make a call to the airline.

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