Alaska Revises 72 Hour Restriction On Partner Awards

Filed Under: Alaska, Alaska Mileage Plan

Isn’t it nice when a loyalty program listens to their members and reverses a customer unfriendly policy? That’s exactly what Alaska Mileage Plan has just done. Yesterday I wrote about how Alaska Mileage Plan added a new restriction for awards booked for travel on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and Hainan (which had apparently been in place since February 8). Specifically they stopped allowing redemptions within 72 hours of departure due to the fraud associated with these tickets.

I’m guessing they’re referring to a combination of people hacking accounts and booking tickets last minute (before the account holder has the chance to realize the miles are missing, at which point the flight has already been taken), and brokers buying and selling miles. Of course many also couldn’t help but wonder whether this was a cost saving measure (after all, a lot of Alaska Mileage Plan members redeem miles for travel on Cathay Pacific last minute), or whether this was a restriction instituted by partner airlines (for example, maybe Cathay Pacific felt that too many Mileage Plan members were redeeming for their first class last minute).

The reason this restriction was so bad is because in many cases Cathay Pacific only releases first class awards within a couple of days of departure, so this meant that a vast majority of Cathay Pacific first class awards were now blocked. Japan Airlines is also known for making premium cabin award seats available last minute.

There’s some good news on this front — Alaska Mileage Plan has revised (and almost reversed) their decision to block partner airline awards last minute. Alaska Mileage Plan’s 72 hour advance booking requirement will only remain in place for intra-Asia awards, where they apparently see the most fraud.

I’m very happy to see Alaska Mileage Plan make this change so quickly. Frankly my fear was that this was something that was being forced by Cathay Pacific, and that Alaska didn’t have much of a say here. It seems that wasn’t the case. I genuinely do think it’s in Alaska’s best interest to offer these redemptions, given their robust business of selling miles.

Well done, Alaska Airlines, on making this change! It’s not often that airlines listen to customers and make changes, especially this quickly.

  1. Wonderful!! Thank you for being on the cutting edge!!! You literally posted this within the last 20min and in that time TPG posted the original bad news you reported yesterday. LMAO.

  2. You have to give credit where credit’s due. However, as an Asia-based 75K, this still stings. But the award situation is much better on routes like HKG-SGN/SHA/TYO further out than HKG-YVR/LAX.
    Have been looking for programs to switch to the whole day, but I guess it is not happening, yet.
    Wish other airlines can actually listen to feedback like AS.

  3. Can I get a positioning flight on Alaska before I fly Cathay on the same award. Last year the CSR wanted extra miles from me for that.

    Bad Alaska

  4. Within Asia? Doesn’t make sense or may be I am missing something. North America has to appear in the itinerary. Doesn’t Alaska have such restrictions in place?

  5. @Shahzad No, you can book totally non-American itineraries on any partner airline, based on availability, afaik.

  6. @Shahzad – you can redeem AS Alaska miles for certain awards within a region. You can book Hainan awards within China, Cathay and JAL within Asia.

    You can even redeem Cathay from Asia to Europe. Alaska is quirky in that regard where they have different agreements in place with different airlines to have region specific awards. Not all of them do.

    Those awards will be subject to the 72 hour region. Apparently, a disapropriate amount of fraud or abuse stems from that region.

    I suspect SQ might be included in this restriction when we can start redeeming awards on SQ.

  7. @TravelinWilly

    What if the intra-Asia flight is part of a bigger itinerary (say- TPE-NRT within the next 72 hours followed by a 3-day stop-over in Tokyo, and finally a NRT-USA flight). Do you think that will be allowed under the new policy?

  8. Reminds me of the Air China problems going back to 2014 with UA awards getting hacked and cancelled so that mileage brokers could steal the seats when they went back into inventory.


    Depends on what AS flight and what routing. Say its CX east coast departure, you cannot fly west coast to east coast on AS to fly CX. You can go SEA-SFO-HKG.

    @glenn t
    Look at the AS award chart and pick Asia to Asia and see what they are referring to

  9. @debit yes, you can book a positioning flight on Alaska metal. Alaska plus only one partner airline on an award. I got screwed on that recently because Virgin wasn’t fully integrated yet and had to pay $90 for SFO to PDX leg returning from Japan. Yet it was better than 4 hrs at LAX then 3 in SEA to PDX for free after the flight from Japan.

  10. If anyone from AS reads this blog, please know that THIS type of proactive leadership is exactly why I decided to get cozy with the Eskimo in 2018. UA million miler, 7-yr AA EXP (decided to jump ship lAAte last year).

    Could not be more pleased to direct my corp travel dollars to a customer-friendly airline. Kudos Alaska.

  11. Thanks all. It was not across the coast. It was just 600 miles. The agent ‘S supervisor wanted to be a dick or didn’t know. Reminds me to ask them to send me link to routing rules so I can quote them next time.

  12. Yes, this is exactly what I predicted in my comment yesterday:
    “As two people have already mentioned, BA has had a 7 day advance restriction on CX award tickets to and from mainland China for a long time now (at least a year), although you could sometimes get around this by calling in. It’s due to the massive fraud and mileage selling market in mainland China, which is like you’ve never seen in your life (I would know, as I’m based in Beijing. It’s the same reason that Delta Skymiles has had an advance booking requirement for all flights departing mainland China for a while now. What would shock me would be if AS puts this advance restriction on flights not departing from mainland China. If that’s really what’s happening, then that’s a disaster!”

  13. Thanks to @CDKing80, @TravelinWilly, for your replies to my post. This was my understanding, but good to be sure!

  14. Hi Lucky

    Would a award ticket issued 2 days in advance of travel still work for this routing? JFK-HKG-PEK – even though it originated outside of Asia would the HKG PEK segment be unavailable given that it’s intra-Asia?

  15. Alaska is an airline that (generally) listens to, and cares about their customers. Kudos for doing the right thing.

  16. “Thanks all. It was not across the coast. It was just 600 miles. The agent ‘S supervisor wanted to be a dick or didn’t know. Reminds me to ask them to send me link to routing rules so I can quote them next time.”

    imagine wanting to be a dick to debit.

  17. When the AS rep says “intra-Asia,” that is meaningful. Look at Alaska’s award chart, and pull up Asia-Asia. HKG-SFO is not an Asia-Asia award; it would be an Asia-Continental US award. Similarly, I expect that a connection on the same award, something like LAX-HKG-FUK that I flew last year and ug’d the day of departure, would not be affected.

  18. Spectacular! Kudos to AS: they’ve allayed my fears that they were pursuing the lowest common denominator. At least there’s one airline out there with their head screwed on!

  19. good luck to anyone trying to redeem Alaska Airlines miles. I have stopped trying to redeem miles and I had between 500,000 miles and 800,000 miles on this airline. Try to only use them when I have too. Almost got thrown off the airline for putting my wifes carry on in the overhead. The attendant thought she had to do it herself. Pitiful airlines.

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