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.
Update – The advance booking restriction for these carriers, including awards from North America to Asia are being removed. The 72-hour advance booking requirement will remain in place for intra-Asia awards only.
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) February 15, 2018
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.