How many miles can you earn as an Alaska Airlines MVP Elite Member?

Loyalty programs drive loyalty, plain and simple. Earning miles is the airline’s way to give you a little something back for you giving them a bunch of money. American, Delta, and United have all changed to a cost based loyalty program, meaning the more you spend the more you earn. Alaska Airlines is still the only airline that awards you one mile for every mile you fly, and that creates some unique opportunities to earn a lot of miles every year.

Let’s take a quick look and see how many miles you’ll earn getting to each of their elite levels.

Alaska Mileage Plan Levels

Alaska Airline’s Mileage Plan has four distinct level; Member, MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75k. 

  • Member: Sign up
  • MVP: 20,000 miles flown with Alaska or 25,000 using a mix of partners
  • MVP Gold: 40,000 miles flown with Alaska or 50,000 using a mix of partners
  • MVP Gold 75k: 75,000 miles flown with Alaska or 90,000 using a mix of partners

When you hit each of these levels, you’ll earn a bonus towards your redeemable miles.

  • MVP: 50%
  • MVP Gold: 100%
  • MVP Gold 75k: 125% bonus

As a final hoorah, you’ll earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles when you achieve the Gold 75k status level

Redeemable vs Elite miles

It’s important to make a quick distinction between elite miles and redeemable miles. Elite miles are what we call Butt-in-seat miles, or flown miles. You’ve got to have your butt, in a seat, to earn those miles. Redeemable miles are regular bonus miles that you can redeem towards award tickets. These are the same miles that you would earn from your credit card spend.

Therefore, it’s important to note that if you’ve flown 18,000 miles, you can not spend another $2,000 on your Alaska Credit card to reach the 20,000 mark. Your butt. In a seat. Period.

Alaska's new leg room

Alaska’s new leg room, from Alaska Airlines

Starting from Scratch

For the sake of argument, lets assume that you’re totally new to Alaska’s Mileage Plan and you’re starting from scratch. You’ve got zero elite miles in your account and you want to start flying. Also for the sake of argument I’m going to assume that you hit the qualification number dead on. That means that when you take a flight that moves you to the next elite level, you hit is right on the nose (exactly 20k or 40k).

Flying only on Alaska Airlines

  • To get to MVP Status
    • 20,000 miles flown, no flying bonus = 20,000 redeemable miles in your account
  • To get to MVP Gold Status
    • 20,000 more miles (at 50% bonus) = 30,000 redeemable miles in your account.
    • Total of 50,000 miles in your account
  • To get to MVP Gold 75k Status
    • 35,000 more miles (at 100% bonus) = 70,000 redeemable miles in your account.
    • 50,000 one time bonus
    • Total of 170,000 miles in your account

That means that by simply flying Alaska Airlines and earning Gold 75k status, you’ll have, at a minimum, 170,000 miles in your account. Not a bad haul for a year’s flying!

What about year two?

You’ll already be at 75k status, so you’ll earn that lovely 125% bonus from the start.

  • 75,000 miles flown (all at 125% bonus)
  • 50,000 one time bonus
  • Total of 218,750 miles in your account

But you also fly partners…

No worries, we do too. We’ve flown PLENTY of times on British Airways and earning huge bonuses for flying. When British runs fare sales, we take advantage of them to earn up to 625% miles for every flight. Now THAT’S a bonus!

  • 90,000 miles flown (all at 125% bonus)
  • 50,000 one time bonus
  • 252,200 miles in your account
British Airways First Class

British Airways First Class

Just scratching the surface

We took three flights this year in First Class with British Airways. Because they were paid first class tickets, we earned 250% elite miles and 575% redeemable miles! When you fly in paid First Class, Alaska rewards you by giving you what’s called a “class of service” bonus. That means that you’re earning more than just simple economy. They’re going to reward you with more elite miles just for flying in a better class in the plane. That’s just awesome!

British Alaska Earning

  • Three round trips totaling 33,959 butt-in-seat miles
  • 250% elite bonus miles = 84,897 Elite miles (almost enough for 75k status right there!)
  • 575% redeemable miles = 195,264 miles

You don’t have to take dozens and dozens of flights on Alaska just to get top tier status. If you find some good deals, you might be able to make the status with only a couple of flights.

Minimum Yearly Earning

If you’re starting from scratch and you want to get to the top tier level, you can expect to earn at a minimum about 170,000 miles. The second year it jumps up to 252,200 miles.

Compare that to Delta Airlines. For the sake of our example let’s assume that you’re going for a matching status. Platinum status is 75,000 miles each year. Let’s also assume that you fly round trip from Seattle to New York on fares that cost $149 each way.

  • SEA-JFK = 2421 miles
  • Getting to Silver = Approx 5 round trips = $1,490 spent at 5 miles per dollar = 7,450
  • Getting to Gold = Approx 5 more round trips = $1,490 spent at 7 miles per dollar = 10,430
  • Getting to Platinum = Approx 5 more round trips = $1,490 spent at 8 miles per dollar = 11,920
  • Total redeemable miles earning getting to Platinum = 29,800

Flying Delta you would earn about 30,000 miles and flying on Alaska you would earn over 250,000 miles. That’s more than 8 times as many miles. It’s clear that who you fly matters.

Delta Alaska Seattle

While I know that there are an infinite number of ways to get to the top elite level, as you can see, the minimum that you’ll earn every year with Alaska is over 250,000 miles where it’s possible if you’re just flying on low cost fares with Delta Airlines that you would earn only a paltry 30,000 miles. 

Those 250,000 miles could be redeemed for first class flights on airlines like Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, British Airways, and more. Those 30,000 miles on Delta, if you’re lucky, will get you one round trip ticket to San Antonio. 

What’s your favorite way to earn Alaska Airlines miles?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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4 Comments

  1. If you are ” Getting to Platinum = Approx 5 more round trips = $1,490 spent at 8 miles per dollar = 11,920″

    So spending $12,000. If you are flying for status to earn miles neither works well. You would be much better off just purchasing $12,000 worth of miles and being a nothing.

    I think when Alaska has sales, for $12,000 you could purchase about 600K miles.

    Post a Reply
    • Flying *just* for status would make absolutely no sense. We’re talking about choosing the airline you fly on the regular in order to maximize both you elite status and redeemable mileage earning. If you switch your loyalty to an airline that actually rewards your doing business with them, it’ll always be more convenient than flying an airline that penalizes your earning for choosing to take care of your bottom line.

      Post a Reply
  2. Love Alaska miles. Especially as a European flying on BA’s short haul network cos crediting those flights to AS earns me 500 miles per segment because most of my journeys are under 500 miles in distance.

    Also I earned about 4,000 AS miles this year when I flew LATAM’s fifth freedom route from Madrid to Frankfurt and back in business class. Sadly that opportunity isn’t as good a deal as it was for me because Alaska recently reduced earnings on LATAM’s cheap Z class fares in business class.

    Post a Reply
    • What’s the normal cost on those flights between MAD-FRA? That’s a heck of a deal.

      Post a Reply

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