Earn Alaska MVP Status
Is it possible to get valuable elite status after only one flight? The answer is very surprisingly YES! As if that weren't awesome enough, I figured out a way to earn about $900 in rewards and spend less than $1000 out of pocket. That's correct, my net effective cost will be approx $75. How? By combining strategic thinking and stacking a few well timed offers.
Before you get too excited, you should understand that the flight is a long one and certainly not for everyone. The good news is that there are some modifications available to make the flight more pleasant. Without further ado- here goes.
Earning Alaska Mileage Plan Status
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of only a few distance based frequent flyer programs and thereby creates some interesting opportunities for customers seeking elite status. Alaska's lowest elite tier is achieved through earning 20K miles flying with Alaska or qualifying partner airlines. The Alaska Partner page details which partner marketed flights earn elite qualifying miles and the specific earn rate for each eligible fare class.
The partner earning chart for Qantas shows that any eligible flight booked through Qantas and credited to Alaska earns miles equal to 100% of the number of miles flown. This means that a flight distance of 10,000 miles would earn a minimum of 10,000. If you actually want to earn status with only one flight, you'll have to do a long flight with as many stops as possible since that increases the flight miles.
One of my favorite things to do in life is find ways to stack promotions to make my money go further and every once in a while the stars align. It just so happens that Alaska, Amex and Founderscard are running concurrent promotions for travel with Qantas airlines.
Amex Offer: Spend $700 on Qantas, get $150 or 15k Membership Rewards Points back OR Spend $1200 and get $250 statement credit
Alaska Double Miles Promo: Earn double miles on Qantas flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Dallas.
Founderscard Fare Discount: Up to 25% off Qantas fares from the US to AU or NZ
Piecing it Together
- Let's look at an actual example.
- Round Trip NYC-MEL (economy) $1258
- FoundersCard Discount – $128 ($1125)
- Amex Offer ($150 or $250) $975 or $950
Note: you'll have to find a way to get to $1200 but there are so many minor price variations when choosing a specific flight or day this shouldn't be an issue
Approximate Miles Earned:
- 42,000 Alaska Miles (the Double Miles Promo is only for flights between the specified airports so you won't earn double miles on the flights within Australia.)
- 6,000 Membership Rewards
Choose the Best Flight
I see three options depending on personal preference:
- Normally when we choose flights we prefer the fastest, most direct route to our final destination. In this scenario, you're actually looking for an indirect flight with multiple stops preferably outside of flight path. Here's an example that meets the criteria perfectly: NYC-SFO-MEL-ADL-PER. According to Milecalc.com this is 24,490 miles. (I realize it's 10 miles short, but we'll figure it out.)
Premium Economy Upgrade (One Way)
- If you upgrade one way, you'll earn more elite qualifying miles. As you can see from the chart above, you'll earn an extra 10% miles as a class of service bonus. Class of service bonuses do in fact count towards elite status. If you do this you can look for a route that is 12,100 miles each way.
Combine a First Class Trans-Con Flight on Alaska with West Coast to AU on Qantas
Alaska has another promotion offering double miles on Alaska flights from coast to coast. Here's a link to the promo page for the specific qualifying routes. Since Alaska has reasonably priced first class flights, it actually makes a lot of sense to fly first class from the East Coast to SFO, SJO or LAX on Alaska. Also remember to check AmexTravel for Alaska Insider Fares. Alaska offers a 75% bonus on the elite qualifying miles when you fly their own product. From Boston, the distance to SFO is roughly 5400 miles round trip (rounded down a few miles). That's 9450 miles towards elite status. You'd then continue on from SFO to Mel which is another 15,710 miles. Leaving you with a grand total of 25,160 miles towards elite status!
Approximately: 45,000 Mileage Plan miles earned
Of course you can manipulate the Alaska Loyalty program with most of the partners but I was drawn to the double mile offers because Alaska miles are very valuable and easy to use. I also love any opportunity to stack deals so I couldn't resist. Also, the Qantas Amex offer expires June 30th, so you'll need to book before then