Skift Take

Alaska's Mileage Plan program continues to get stronger with a new series of incentives aimed at west coast Virgin America customers. Between the incentives and the numerous partners, Alaska has put together a pretty solid loyalty program.

In a time where most airlines are making drastic cuts to loyalty programs, Alaska Airlines appears to be headed in the opposite direction once more with a new promotion aimed at travelers flying through the west coast.

Through September 30th of this year, Alaska’s Mileage Plan loyalty program is rewarding travelers flying from or connecting through several west coast cities with double award miles on ten partner carriers. Airlines in which bonuses can be accrued are:

  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LAN
  • Qantas

A full list of airlines, destinations and fare classes is available over on Alaska’s landing page.

In targeting customers on west coast routes, Alaska appears to be extending another olive branch to passengers used to flying on Virgin America routes. Many of those travelers, who are now a part of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan family, may not be familiar with the wide spectrum of partners carriers employed by Alaska. By offering an incentive to those travelers, Alaska may be able to grease the wheels and keep those passengers loyal to the joint airline.

A passenger traveling from New York JFK to San Francisco on a Virgin America plane, for example, might now be incentivized to connect to a Cathay Pacific flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong — earning bonus Mileage Plan points for the transoceanic leg.

Past the outreach to west coast flyers, Alaska’s latest effort appears to continue its recent efforts to build up a following around its loyalty program. Last year, Mileage Plan loudly declined to follow the big three legacy carriers in moving its loyalty program to a revenue-based system — a move widely applauded by frequent flyers. And just last month the carrier started working with Finnair, enhancing an already strong raft of partners that participate in the Mileage Plan program.

It’s true that Alaska doesn’t have the broadest network compared to its larger rivals — even with the addition of Virgin America routes. But if Alaska can continue to dominate the loyalty program space, consumer sentiment — and eventually sales — will fall to the airline by default.


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Tags: alaska airlines, loyalty, mileage plan

Photo credit: An Alaska Airlines plane on the tarmac. The carrier is creating special bonuses for passengers flying partner airlines. Alaska Airlines / Alaska Airlines

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