EXPLAINED: Alaska Airlines Elite Leave for New Parents


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Alaska Airlines has a programme called Elite Leave which lets new parents maintain their MVP, MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K status for up to 12 months, regardless of how much they can travel during that time.

If your travel plans are on hiatus during your parental leave, and you fully embrace your newly static existence, the policy offers to place your Mileage Plan status on hold for a year, granting a pseudo-extension until you can fly again.

The programme was launched back in 2017 and at the time set Alaska Airlines apart from other legacy carriers (Delta, United, American) which did not have similar programmes. Today it is not alone in this space Airline parental breaks and pause policies have sprung up over the years and are fairly commonplace now.

Oneworld Partners Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Iberia and Qantas have their own policies, and in North America, regional competitor Hawaiian airlines and multinational Air Canada operate similar programmes as well.

Alaska Airlines has an entire backstory as to how it came up with the idea. The idea was formed due to an upset MVP who was potentially set to lose her status due to her newborn child; when Alaska’s leaders found out “they were energetically in favour of implementing a leave programme”.

British Airways is in the same boat, they accredit the reason why they introduced a parental pause programme because they wanted to be family orientated and celebrate the new arrival.

In reality, much of this is the result of the ebbs and flows of a competitive frequent flyer loyalty environment, where airlines seemly copy each other in the space – in this case, it was early adopter Qantas who was one of the first major carriers to introduce the idea of parental pause.

What Is On Offer

If you’re a new parent who’s also an Alaska elite, you’ll be able to put your status on hold for one year during your pregnancy or parental leave. Once the year has passed, you’ll pick your status right back up and resume working toward requalification.

As an example, a current (2022) MVP member who takes parental leave which ends in 2023 will receive MVP status through 2024. 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.

Unlike other carriers, like Qantas who operate a Status Hold model, Alaska Airlines Elite Leave is pretty much a status extension by the sounds of things.

Of note, 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.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K Status Card

Alaska Airlines Elite Leave Eligibility Requirements

Qualifying types of parental leave include

  • Maternity
  • Paternity; and
  • adoption leave

The parental status extension is only valid for legal residents of the United States and Canada.

To meet the minimum required status you need to be:

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  • Mileage Plan MVP
  • Mileage Plan MVP Gold; or
  • Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K

Status granted complimentarily, including gifted and matched status, is not eligible for Elite Leave.

Not surprisingly if you are a Mileage Plan Lifetime Million Miler status holder you are also exempt from the programme as your status naturally renews each year regardless.

Alaska Airlines plane

How To Apply For Alaska Airlines Elite Leave

Step 1. Once you’re back from parental leave, email us at [email protected] with your:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Mileage Plan number
  • Proof of pregnancy or parental leave – a note from your doctor or employer will do.

Step 2. We’ll verify that you’re eligible and extend your current status through the following year, so you can focus on your bundle of joy.

allow up to 4 weeks for verification and approval.

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