How much is a year of free inflight WiFi worth? Top tier elites in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program can make that decision, thanks to the carrier’s new 100K Choice Benefit option.
As part of the newly introduced 100K elite tier level, qualifying members can choose one of four options:
- 50,000 Bonus Miles
- Alaska Lounge+ Membership
- Gifting MVP Gold Status
- Complimentary Wi-Fi every time you fly on us
With a nominal value around a penny per point, that benefit value comes out to roughly $500. The Lounge+ membership also prices at $500. And the monthly access pass to inflight internet runs $50, so that’s a $600 annualized value.
But Alaska Airlines also shifted to a flat-rate $8/flight pricing model for the Intelsat 2Ku internet service on board. Depending on travel patterns (or expense account reimbursement policies), it may be less expensive to buy per segment.
Seeing this benefit announced also strongly implies that the carrier does not expect to make inflight internet free for passengers in the near future. It would be quite the move to encourage customers to pick the benefit then obviate its value.
Air Canada made the benefit a similarly selectable option in 2018 for its top two tiers of elites. Southwest Airlines allows it for free to top elites. So do SAS and EL AL. Finnair offers a limited version.
All of which is to say that offering top elites WiFi for free is not new. Indeed, a loyalty program can help offset the costs of getting the planes fitted, something that ultimately benefits all travelers. But it is also important to remember that the price charged to consumers is not the same as the cost to the airline. That spread further increases the value of the WiFi offer to the airline.
In addition to the 100K Choice Benefit options noted above, Mileage Plan members reaching that tier also receive a higher priority for upgrades and more bonus miles when flying on Alaska Airlines, an extra snack on board if the upgrade does not clear, and an additional one-way international upgrade voucher for travel on American Airlines.
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