Alaska’s new Elite Leave protects your status during parental leave

Ask any new parent and they’ll tell you – the newborn period is rough. You’re tired, you’re stressed, and you probably have a mountain of paperwork to complete. If you’re a new parent who’s a frequent flyer, you may also find yourself a tad nervous about what’s going to happen to your elite status while you’re grounded.

That’s where Elite Leave comes in – a brand-new program enabling Alaska Mileage Plan elite members to extend status for an additional year when they go on parental leave. That means members who have taken or will take a parental leave that ends this year can extend their status through the end of 2018.  In future years, status will be extended through the calendar year following the end of leave.

“This is just one less thing for new parents to worry about,” says Natalie Bowman, Alaska’s managing director of brand marketing and a parent of three young children. “It’s such a high stress, high emotion, low sleep time in your life that the last thing you want to be worrying about is losing your status.”

Here’s how it works:

  1. Email your full name, date of birth, Mileage Plan number and proof of leave to
  2. Once eligibility is verified, you’ll be registered for Elite Leave for new parents.

“I absolutely love this,” says Tammilee Tillison, an Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K member. “We track our flight segment and miles throughout the year to make sure we are meeting the status requirements. I can only imagine the panic that would set in if we couldn’t meet the requirements due to a pregnancy or other life event.”

The idea first took hold when a frequent flyer reached out to Alaska because she’d just had a baby and was upset about potentially losing her MVP status. When the request made its way to Alaska’s leaders, they were energetically in favor of implementing a leave program.

“So many of us at Alaska are working parents supporting families,” says Alison Carpentier, Alaska’s director of brand loyalty and a parent of two. “We understand the unique challenges faced by working moms and dads and this is our way of saying ‘Fellow working parents – we hear you, and we’re here to support you. (And, we think you’re doing a great job.)’”

Alaska’s customer service agents, who are empowered to go beyond to make things right for customers, have long been making these exceptions on a case-by-case basis when elite flyers inquire. Today’s announcement formalizes the policy for all new parents.

“This is one of those things that is a very simple change, but that we as working parents knew had the potential to make a huge impact,” says Bowman. “In this case, it just took one person asking the right question to inspire a whole new policy. It’s a great reminder that your voice does matter – you have the power to make a difference when you speak up.”

Ready to hit the skies again? Read “How to travel with a new baby.”


  1. I love this! Great Job Alaska Air! Another show of how much you value each of us!

  2. great idea, would be nice to add the same thing for those having chemo or other things that can’t be avoided.

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