How to upgrade on Alaska Airlines

Enjoy first class cabins without using money.

Last updated:

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Loyal Alaska Airlines customers are often first on the list to get complimentary upgrades. However, even if you only occasionally fly Alaska Airlines, you can still get an upgrade using miles.

How can I get an upgrade?

To move up to Alaska Airlines first class without using money, you need to join Alaska Airlines’s Mileage Plan frequent flyer program. Then you’ll start earning miles every time you fly. Earn even more miles by spending with the airline using an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card.

Also, frequent flyers who earn elite status get a complimentary upgrade to first class. They also get to earn more miles on their Alaska flights, which can be redeemed for award flights.

Who gets upgraded?

Alaska Airlines’s upgrade wait list is simple: Mileage Plan elite tiers get the upgrade priority, while everyone else can get an upgrade after the elite members.

Alaska Airlines upgrade with miles

To get an upgrade on Alaska Airlines using miles, your ticket must be booked in a certain fare category. Typically, these fares are Y, S, B, M and H.

There’s also the option to check whether you can upgrade your fare at alaskaair.com. On the website, select Mileage from the Upgrades box and the fares that qualify for an upgrade will appear with a U next to the fare.

Alaska Airlines upgrade chart

Alaska Airlines first class upgrade is available for purchase with miles. However, if you want to upgrade without joining the Mileage Plan program, you can upgrade using money.

First class upgrade on a one-way tripCost
Award upgrade15,000 miles
0–450 miles$29
451–700 miles$49
701–1,400 miles$99
1,401–2,100 miles$149
2,101 miles and more$199

Data obtained April 2019. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

How to use a credit card to get an Alaska Airlines upgrade

Getting an Alaska Airlines credit card won’t get you an upgrade directly. However, you can use your card to purchase airfare and earn accelerated miles. You can then use these miles to move up to first class, or you can use miles to get an award flight.

You’ll also get a chance to earn a companion certificate every year on your card anniversary. If you often fly Alaska Airlines, this could be a useful perk to have.

Compare credit cards that can help earn an upgrade

Compare airline credit cards

You might not be able to earn an upgrade on Alaska Airlines with these cards, but there’s a wide selection of airline credit cards with similar perks to choose from.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a Delta purchase in the same timeframe
2x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a direct Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See terms
See terms
See terms
Can't decide on a card? Get personalized credit card offers with CardMatch™.
United℠ Explorer Card
40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months plus 25,000 miles after spending $10,000 in the first 6 months
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening plus 25,000 miles after spending $10,000 in the first 6 months.
Avianca Vuela Visa® Card
40,000 miles after first purchase, plus 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days with promo code SB4060 (Worth over $1,000)
3x miles on Avianca, 2x miles on gas and groceries, 1x miles on all other purchases and 15% Multiply Your Miles discount
$149
Get a signup bonus worth over $1,000. Earn 40,000 bonus LifeMiles after first purchase, plus 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days with promo code SB4060

Compare up to 4 providers

How to use miles to upgrade on an Alaska Airlines partner flight

Unfortunately, you can’t get an upgrade on Alaska Airlines partners. But you can get an award flight using miles on these airlines:

  • Aer Lingus
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Latam Airlines
  • PenAir
  • Qantas
  • Ravn Alaska
  • Singapore Airlines

Bottom line

Getting an upgrade on Alaska Airlines is easy. If you’re a member of the Mileage Plan reward program, you can upgrade without using money. Otherwise, you can purchase your upgrade out of pocket. Only the Mileage Plan elite tiers get a complimentary upgrade to first class.

If you fly infrequently with Alaska Airlines, check out other airline credit cards and compare your options.

Frequently asked questions

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site