Although I am a relative latecomer to Alaska's Mileage Plan program, I've done some research into the matter and after flying several Alaska Air flights from Los Angeles to Seattle, I've found that it's one of the best programs in the industry. Perhaps because of its mostly regional focus on the Pacific Northwest, Alaska doesn't get the credit that it deserves as a well-run airline with a very generous and useful mileage program. Here are some of the best attributes of Alaska's Mileage Plan:
1. Can earn miles on any partner: Alaska partners with 12 different airlines and you can earn qualifying miles on all of them. This is a huge deal for those fliers who potentially fly on several different airlines but can't bank their miles into status with any one program. For example, let's say that you travel 5-8 times a year for business on American, Delta, Cathay Pacific and Korean Air. If you booked these miles to each respective carrier, you wouldn't likely have more than 15,000 orphaned miles in each program. However, if you combined them all in an Alaska account, you would not only have all of these miles in one format, but also likely attain status with Alaska. Of course, booking miles into one account isn't helpful if the miles aren't useful, which leads me to my next point.
2. Redeem for awesome awards: Alaska partners with airlines from every major alliance, but the two partners that have the most aspirational value are Cathay Pacific and Emirates. With regards to Cathay Pacific's first class, it is only 70,000 miles from North America to Africa, and you can have a stopover in Hong Kong on the way! This is over 24 combined hours in one of the finest first class seats in the world for only 70,000 miles! Similarly epic would be the 100,000 mile one-way journey on the new Emirates A380 from North America to the Middle East and beyond.
3. Solidly Run Airline: I've been impressed with the quality of service and amenities I've experienced on every Alaska flight. The flight attendants and gate agents seem especially cheerful and their planes have always been neat and well-maintained. Last year, I status-matched to their mid-tier MVP Gold as an American Airlines Executive Platinum member, and even on award flights I would be thanked for my status with free food and alcoholic beverages.
In conclusion, Alaska is a fantastic airline and deserves a second look by lots of people who might not think that this program works for them.