Why I am continuing my loyalty to Alaska Airlines

By | September 22, 2018

Why I am continuing my loyalty to Alaska Airlines

I recently wrote a post on why I am giving up my loyalty to Alaska Airlines.  In Part 2, I explore the reasons to stay loyal to Alaska.  

Earlier I wrote about all the reasons not to stay loyal to Alaska.  The airline has changed a lot in the last 2-3 years.  With that said there is still a lot for me to love about the airline.

Reason 1: Mileage Plan is Still Best

Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is still the best (at least domestically).  As of now, elite status does NOT require any monetary spend — it is all about the miles or segments.  It has a large number of international partners and is agnostic when it comes to alliances (for better and worse).

And there are some great Business and First class redemption opportunities.

2: Good Customer Service

Alaska has exceptional customer service.  In fact, Alaska has won the JD Power Best Airline for Customer Satisfaction for the past 11 years (It should be noted that this is in the Traditional Carrier category; Southwest and JetBlue are in a separate Low Cost Carrier category). I find the Alaska employees to be some of the best in the airline industry — courteous, professional, knowledgable.  The inflight safety demo is done by real humans (no video screens for Alaska… except ex-Virgin planes).  When you call in to Alaska, typically you get a real person within 30 seconds that is located along the West Coast.  Alaska historically has high on-time ratings meaning low incidence of delays and cancelations.  They have a great social media presence as well.

Reason 3: I Live in Seattle

Seattle is dominated by Alaska Airlines.  Half of all seats on flights coming and going from SeaTac Airport are on Alaska.  That includes both domestic and international (and Alaska only flies internationally out of SeaTac to 5 destinations all in Western Canada).  Delta accounts for a total 22% of ALL passengers through SeaTac and they actually have some large aircraft serving the city to international destinations.  Southwest, United and American are each around 5-6%.

Simple math makes it much easier to stay loyal to Alaska than any other airline.  I fly Delta and JetBlue once or twice a year, but other than that for domestic Alaska offers the best times and most destinations.

Conclusion

The Alaska Airlines of today doesn’t get me as excited as the Alaska Airlines of a year ago.  With the purchase of Virgin America, I was hopeful for an airline that could compete with the legacy domestic airlines.  Unfortunately it seems that those in charge of Alaska have decided that in order to compete, Alaska must adopt some of the negative practices of other airlines.  In some ways I think of Alaska a bit like Apple.  A great brand that has lost some of its shine recently.

So am I planning on staying loyal?  Probably; just not as loyal.  After being an MVP Gold 75K for a number of consecutive years, I will likely start 2019 as a lowly MVP.  It still makes sense for me to do most of my flying on Alaska but recently I have started to accumulate Delta and JetBlue points (via flights and credit cards).  I still hold some hope that Alaska will realize their potential to be great again and doesn’t continue their race to the bottom.

11 thoughts on “Why I am continuing my loyalty to Alaska Airlines

  1. Lisa Dickinson

    Agreed. Their customer service is generally why I stay. There are a few bad seeds that have gotten me furious over the years, but overall, Alaska employees aim to please. (Typing this while currently enjoying an Alaska Lounge)

    Reply
    1. Alan Post author

      Thanks for reading. Are there other items I should add to my list of reasons to stay? Enjoy your flight!

      Reply
  2. Solewalker

    You are still doing better than me. I am going from 3 year MVP Gold to 2019 nothing.

    Reply
        1. Alan Post author

          So few flights on AA out of Seattle though. I’ve flirted with JetBlue (though not for their loyalty program, just because I think Mint is one of the best products).

          Reply
  3. Dave Hanson

    Hi Alan,

    Glad to see this series of posts, and that they are drawing a reply. I hadn’t realized that the change in the award flight chart had also ruled out segment double dipping.

    This comment did puzzle me: “So am I planning on staying loyal? Probably; just not as loyal. After being an MVP Gold 75K for a number of consecutive years, I will likely start 2019 as a lowly MVP. ”

    You have already explained why after AS made these changes, MVP Gold offered *greater* benefits relative to MVP. Most important, golds get free cancellations for revenue *and* award tickets–better than Delta, where platinums get award rebookings only.

    If you are likely to remain even somewhat loyal in 2019, why not set up a cheap mileage run or two to get to Gold? A few SEA-BOS, RDU, or BWI turns will get the job done.

    Reply
    1. Alan Post author

      Thanks for reading Dave and for your feedback. Glad that these posts are helpful.

      I’ve considered mileage running to try and get MVP Gold, but I am going to end 2018 with just 30,000 EQMs; over half of those are from partner airlines. That means I would have to mileage run an additional 20,000 miles. For me that just isn’t worth it.

      Reply
      1. Dave Hanson

        I hear you Alan. Selfishly, I’ll miss having you writing as a Gold/75k. 🙂

        Should you change your mind, they just posted a bunch of $210 SEA-BOS-SEA red-eye turns today. I can’t do red eyes, but my business partner loves ’em…go figure. 🙂

        Cheers, Dave

        Reply
  4. Mike

    Alaska also flies to Mexico. Canada is not the only international destination. Please make the correction

    Reply
    1. Alan Post author

      They fly to Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica. However, Canada is the only direct non-US destination from Seattle.

      Reply

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