New Alaska Airlines offers upgrades to first class
Gary Leff at 15. February 2021.
Last September, Alaska Airlines admitted that it would no longer allow customers to confirm upgrades in advance. Upgrades with miles are still considered awards and verified upgrade certificates (MVP Gold Guest) are still issued. However, the space required for its use was not provided.
At that time, Alaska Airlines had closed half of first class to social distance and fewer seats were available for purchase. They did not want to remove inventory that could be sold at a time when they (and the rest of the industry) were desperate for revenue.
Alaska no longer blocks seats in first class or on the regular bus. They continue to restrict the sale of premium bus tickets. And they rediscovered an attachable upgrade (U-Bucket) in small increments. The airline confirms this,
- In mid-December, they began reopening U stock for travel through mid-2021.
- In January, like before a pandemic, they opened access for 30 days of travel.
- Alaska is further opening up the U space for longer travel dates.
Basically, you can confirm the extension within a month of the trip at rates similar to those before the pandemic. Business travel is virtually non-existent and first class sales remain below pre-crisis levels. So there should be more updates available.
However, it is encouraging to see that they are reintroducing confirmed updates. Upgrade certificates and miles are benefits for frequent flyers. They will need their best customers to rebuild.
A short return trip to Alaska confirmed the updates. The U-Box was introduced in 2002 to cope with the increased performance of first class. Previously confirmed upgrades were booked in First Class Revenue and cost 5,000 miles per trip. If a first class seat was for sale, you could get it for 5,000 miles plus the cost of the cheapest bus ticket. Alaska has already begun to serve the East Coast. It was truly one of the best values in the history of travel.
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