Alaska Airlines Adjusts Mileage Earning & Fare Classes

Filed Under: Alaska

Alaska Airlines will be joining the oneworld alliance as of March 31, 2021. Ahead of that, the airline has announced adjustments to mileage earning and fare classes.

While the airline hinted a few weeks back that these changes were coming, Alaska Airlines has now published its new mileage earning chart. This is in addition to Alaska Airlines recently announcing changes to how status is earned in 2021, along with the introduction of a new 100K elite tier.

Alaska Airlines realigning fare classes

Mileage Plan will be changing mileage earning rates for flights on Alaska Airlines as of March 31, 2021. For now only mileage earning rates for travel on Alaska Airlines are changing, and not for travel on any partner airlines.

So, what all is changing? Here’s the Alaska Mileage Plan mileage earning chart for flights through March 30, 2021:

And here’s the Alaska Mileage Plan mileage earning chart for flights as of March 31, 2021:

As you can see, it’s hard to do a side-by-side comparison, given that fare classes are changing as well. A few things do stand out:

  • These changes kick in for flights as of March 31, even if they were purchased prior to this change, which is pretty bad form (though I recognize the complexity of making these changes otherwise)
  • On the plus side, all economy fares continue to earn at least 100% miles, and the program isn’t going revenue based, all of which is fantastic compared to the competition
  • Full fare first class tickets (now marketed as business class) go from earning 175% miles to earning 200% miles, while discounted first class fares go from earning 175% miles to earning 150% miles

Alaska Airlines is adjusting first class mileage earning rates

Why are Alaska Airlines fare classes changing?

Clearly these changes are being done for Alaska Airlines to better align with American Airlines and the oneworld alliance overall. It’s much easier for airlines to sell tickets together when fare classes are aligned, especially when you consider the level of cooperation being planned between American and Alaska.

The changes reflect Alaska moving closer to American’s fare class structure, which makes a lot of sense. For example, American’s domestic first class fare classes align with business class, while Alaska’s domestic first class fare classes align with first class.

One positive aspect of these changes is that Alaska Airlines first class award tickets will become significantly cheaper when redeeming British Airways Avios. You’ll no longer have to redeem the first class mileage amounts, but rather can redeem the business class mileage amounts.

For example, a one-way Seattle to Los Angeles Alaska Airlines first class award will go from costing 30,000 Avios, to costing 15,000 Avios.

These changes are good for those redeeming Avios on Alaska Airlines

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines will be changing some fare classes and mileage earning rates as of March 31, 2021, coinciding with the airline joining the oneworld alliance.

Fare classes are being aligned with American Airlines, which makes sense given the amount of codesharing and cooperation we’ll see between the airlines. Most of the changes here are with mileage earning for first class fares, with discounted first class seeing reduced mileage earning.

On the plus side, at least Alaska Mileage Plan isn’t moving revenue based, and the program will also continue to award at least 100% miles for discounted economy tickets, so things could be much worse.

What do you make of these changes to Alaska Airlines’ fare classes and mileage earning?

Comments
  1. I presume that the domestic leg on AS in an international business class award can now be in AS first class. That’d be a significant improvement.

  2. Has everyone received this year’s status credit for Jan-Apr 2020 flights credited to Mileage plan as promised? I see some entries but only for 2 sectors instead of 5. Anyone has similar issues?

  3. “For example, a one-way Seattle to Los Angeles Alaska Airlines first class award will go from costing 30,000 Avios, to costing 15,000 Avios.”

    I think you are using the old British Airways award chart, which changed around May 2019. I think the numbers should be 33,000 to 16,500. Still great news.

  4. @peter ……yes I got my credits from last year jan to March or April I forget …..yes they did post ……not sure if there going by elite status 1st as I’m 75 mvp

  5. Will these changes apply to already purchased tickets? I’ve purchased some I class tickets for the fall. Doesn’t seem right to change my earnings after I’ve purchased the tickets.

  6. @Tony When I use AS miles for International business class award, I always gets AS domestic First class as long as there is AS first class award seat (U Class) available.

  7. @ buschoi says:

    “@Tony When I use AS miles for International business class award, I always gets AS domestic First class as long as there is AS first class award seat (U Class) available.”

    U class (when available) is used for AS upgrades, either by purchasing an eligible fare for your status or attaching a Gold Guest Upgrade Certificate (immediate, at time of booking) or complimentary upgrades (all fares except Saver) when the window opens for your status. EQM earnings are always based on the underlying fare purchased.

    For awards, there needs to be Saver A (First class award availability at the Saver level) to combine with a Partner F/J redemption to fly in F on the AS segment(s). They are also not limited to domestic. You could, for example, fly AS in F to YVR to connect to KE, JL, CX, QF, BA, etc.

    James

  8. @Ghostrider5408

    “I am in the same boat having booked SEA/Heathrow/SEA.”

    These changes are for earning EQM/RDM on Alaska Medal Flights. Your itinerary, likely BA, will not be affected by these changes and will still earn EQM/RDM according to the Partner chart.

    James

  9. I’m not as optimistic for cheap economy tickets. I expect they will align more with AA, otherwise AA may find even more folks moving to Alaska loyalty program. (Esp. since elite flyers will have similar benefits on both sides.)

  10. Not to be a negative Nellie, but why do I get the feeling this maybe the beginning of the end. The fact that first class tickets will now be cheaper when using Avios brings me no joy. That just reduces the chances of an upgrade for me as a lowly Alaska Gold. Will there be a corresponding savings on British Airways first class seats when I am using Alaska Miles? Doubtful.

    My chances of scoring what used to be a pretty sure bet upgrade seem to be getting slimmer and slimmer as Alaska’s partnership with America moves forward and the One World integration begins. Time to rethink Alaska status?

  11. @Steve

    It’s always time to rethink status. With airlines bleeding the way they are and needing your business, do what’s best for you, including not chasing status at all. Even before COVID, I stopped chasing loyalty at all for airlines or hotels, I just bought the best fare that fit my schedule, and kept a couple of credit cards open that gave me free bags. When I wanted to fly up front, I bought that. For me (someone doing in the range of low-mid tier status qualification if I do it all on one airline), I think I came out ahead financially.

    At this point, most miles aren’t earned by flying, so if it’s the redemption side you’re worried about, those signup bonuses are still looking ok. And if it’s elite benefits, is any program particularly special?

    FWIW, even with my approach, being SFO based I mostly ended up flying Alaska and Delta, with I think an American and United segment or two sprinkled in.

  12. Honestly, I’m really (pleasantly!) surprised that they didn’t gut Saver fares to 25% earning.

    It’s probably coming eventually, but at least not now…

  13. I think this is all in preparation for an eventual AA-AS merger down the road. Joining OW, the fare class adjustments, introducing a higher elite tier, etc. I’m guessing AA will be the surviving name, but it’ll be interesting to see which will be the dominating culture. What does everyone else think?

  14. Any idea whether these changes will finally enable you to book Alaska flights using British Airways Avios on the BA website instead of being on the forever-phone-hold?

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