The Not So Secret way to Alaska Airlines First Class upgrades

Ever walk onto a plane and see all those people sitting in the first few rows of the airplane, sipping a pre departure drink, not burdened by uncomfortable seat cushions and wonder “How the hell did they get up here?” I know you have, because I hear it all the time when people walk by us to coach…

“Hey Larry! Hey Larry! Look at these big comfy seats! Are these ours?” 

No Susan, you’re back in row 26. BUT, for the somewhat frequent traveler, it is entirely possible to sit up front and not pay ANYTHING extra. Read on…

Alaska’s Upgrade Policies

Alaska Airlines has one of the most generous upgrade policies out there, as there are a lot of ways to move up to the front.

They offer their MVP members upgrades, they also offer discount offers for MVP Gold, Gold 75k, and even offer Gold Guest upgrade codes to instantly confirm their upgrades.

On top of all those, they offer free upgrades to first class at the gate for their elite members. Depending on the time of flight and the destination, it’s very rare that we’re not sitting up front.

Alaska’s new Mexico City route

We were the first people (hooray!) to book seats on Alaska’s new Inaugural flight to Mexico City this coming August. We booked in First Class on the flight, and ya know the best part? We didn’t pay a dime extra for it! How you ask? Here’s how:

Here’s a screen shot of the flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City on August 8. You can see that coach is $197 and First Class is $395. If you notice on the left hand side there is a menu for various first class options, but it’s left unchecked for now.

Alaska Airlines Elite Upgrades

Alaska Airlines Elite Upgrades

When we chose the MVP Gold Guest upgrade option, it immediately showed me that there was availability for 2 seats (the dark blue F) and as you can see, the Gold Guest Upgrade shows available as well. No increase in price, for a total of $197. But, if I don’t have to use those certificates, I’d rather not. Those are like Gold, literally, as they are confirmed space on many flights where the cost to upgrade to First Class could be exorbitant.

Alaska Airlines Elite Upgrades

Alaska Airlines Elite Upgrades

But what’s that MVP Gold 75k button? It means that if you book your flight into an eligible fare class, then you can get an upgrade, for free! Alaska sells a lot of different classes of fares (discount, deep discount, full fare, etc), and if you get the one, you get moved up for free! This shows the lowest available fare to get a first class upgrade… for free.

Check it out! Would you rather have Coach for $197, Premium for $197, or First Class for $197?! DUH!

Alaska Airlines Elite Upgrades

Alaska Airlines Elite Upgrades

Not Elite Yet with Alaska?

No problem! Alaska has an amazing Elite status match program that will allow you access to their top tier elite program. You can read more about that here.

It just goes to show that you don’t always have to pay extra to get an upgrade, you just have to know how to work the system.

Do you have any other ways that you’ve used to get upgrades to First Class?


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Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. what you have failed to mention that AS is shrinking the size of FC this year, much to the delight of us that actually pay for that “upgrade” What most will get is premium coach which by the way is comfortable.

    Post a Reply
    • It wasn’t really me failing to mention it, because trust me, I know we’re getting more of those lovely Premium Economy seats more often. While I do like them, there is something to be said about sitting in First Class, and the way to get there isn’t as complicated as one may think.

      Post a Reply
      • your right Earn it

        Post a Reply
        • Whether he pays for it out of pocket or is upgraded due to “free” upgrade (paying $1000s of travel dollars to hit MVP 75K status) he’s earned it. Alaska doesn’t simply give these out because they’re feeling nice, these are the people that they make most of their money from.

          Post a Reply


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