Parents Expecting a Baby Can Extend Their Elite Level Status With Alaska Airlines

A laska Airlines “gave birth” to a new program called Elite Leave, which enables members of the Mileage Plan frequent travel loyalty program to extend their elite level status — whether it is MVP, MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K — for an additional year while embarking on qualifying types of parental leave, which include maternity, paternity, and adoption leave.

Parents Expecting a Baby Can Extend Their Elite Level Status With Alaska Airlines

If you happen to be one of those people eligible to take advantage of this new program, you can extend your elite level status through the end of 2018 — and in future years, elite level status will be extended through the calendar year following the end of leave. For example, if you currently have elite level status in 2017 and take parental leave which ends in 2018, you will receive that same elite level status through 2019.

Customer service agents of Alaska Airlines — who are empowered to go beyond to make things right for customers — have long been granting these exceptions on a case-by-case basis when members of elite level status inquire about postponing the expiration of that status for a year; but now that policy has been formalized for new parents.

Qualifying for this program is simple if you are expecting a little bundle of joy to your family:

  1. Send an e-mail message to elite.flyer@alaskaair.com with your:
    1. Full name
    2. Date of birth
    3. Mileage Plan membership number
    4. Proof of pregnancy or parental leave — a note from your doctor or employer will suffice
  2. Once eligibility is verified, you will be registered for the Elite Leave program for new parents.

Terms and Conditions

Eligible members of the Mileage Plan frequent travel loyalty program will be presumed to qualify for their current status in the year in which their parental leave ends, to apply for the following year. Only elite members who earned their current status through qualifying travel in the previous calendar year are eligible for Elite Leave. Status granted complimentarily — including gifted and matched status — is not eligible for Elite Leave.

Members who receive MVP Gold 75K status as part of this Elite Leave offer are not eligible for the 50,000 bonus miles associated with qualifying for MVP Gold 75K status. You must contact Alaska Airlines at alaskaair.com/EliteLeave after completion of parental leave and submit evidence in order to qualify for Elite Leave. Please allow up to four weeks for verification and approval. Following approval, status will be reflected in My account on www.alaskaair.com. This offer is valid only for legal residents of the United States and Canada.

All terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan frequent travel loyalty program apply.

Summary

Taking a page from Hilton Honors, this is definitely a step in the right direction for customers; but unlike the Hilton Honors initiative — which is only available to members who have already earned Diamond elite level VIP status — the Elite Leave program is valid for all levels of elite status in the Mileage Plan frequent travel loyalty program…

…but unlike Elite Leave, the extension of Diamond elite level VIP status in the Hilton Honors frequent guest loyalty program is good for any reason simply for the asking — although it is limited to only once per lifetime. Elite Leave seems to be valid for every time a member is expecting an addition to his or her family.

Alaska Airlines should consider expanding the Elite Leave program for other valid reasons — such as sick leave as one of many examples — in my opinion. Although only a small percentage of members of the Mileage Plan frequent travel loyalty program will be eligible to take advantage of extending their elite level status by one year, seeing an airline give a real enhancement to its customers is quite refreshing these days…

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

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