Alaska Allowing One-Time Changes To Emirates Award Tickets

Filed Under: Alaska, Awards

Last week Alaska hugely devalued Emirates first class awards overnight, in some cases raising award costs by 100,000 miles one-way. Alaska blamed the devaluation on “travel hackers,” which they defined as Mileage Plan members who exploited the airline’s routing rules. But then they changed their mind on what constituted “travel hackers,” instead blaming the devaluation on people selling miles.


Obviously this left a lot of Mileage Plan members in an unfortunate situation, given that many people had been collecting miles primarily for the purpose of Emirates first class redemptions. The devaluation also came while Alaska was offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles, which left a lot of members especially frustrated.

Alaska is at least reasonable enough to refund the mileage purchases for anyone who purchased miles on or after March 1, 2016.

On top of that, Alaska is now offering those who have already booked an Emirates award a one time change without charging the new mileage requirements, per the update Alaska made to their blog post:

What if I want to make changes to my existing award?

All changes made online will be ticketed at the new award level. Members who have existing award reservations can contact our Customer Care team for a one-time award change without spending more miles.

This change can only be made by calling Mileage Plan, so don’t redeposit the award online and then call, because then you won’t be able to make the change.

The normal Mileage Plan fees still apply, which is to say that there are no fees to changes or cancellations more than 60 days before departure, while there’s a $125 per person fee for changes or cancellations within 60 days of departure.

Also keep in mind that changing Emirates awards booked using Alaska miles can be complicated due to the married segment logic they use, as I explained in a previous post. This means that you can’t change just one segment of an award, but rather there needs to be award availability for all the segments whenever you make a change.


Bottom line

If you already have a Mileage Plan award on Emirates booked, you can make one change without paying the new, inflated award costs. Between that and Alaska refunding mileage purchases made since March 1, they’re at least making a very small effort on this front…

Did you manage to book an Emirates first class award before the devaluation, and if so, do you plan on changing it?

  1. I have a flight booked from LA to the Maldives for Thanksgiving. LAX to Dubai in Emirates First, Dubai to Mali in Business. Then back from Mali to Dubai in COACH and Dubai to LAX in First again. I was planning on calling back and seeing if any business space opened up for the one segment I’m in coach. I’m very happy that I will still get that opportunity.

  2. If one has booked a J ticket, can one make a change to F at the old prices since F wasnt open on the initial booking?

  3. If Alaska wanted to discourage the travel hackers they have given MVP status holders 15 days notice. Those are people who are actually flying Alaska and not “travel hackers”.

  4. @Andrew I;m not sure anyone has a definitive answer for your question yet. Keep monitoring award space, call AS if it opens up and see if they’ll let you make the change and report back! Good Luck!

  5. @David W

    They wont let you upgrade to the next class up by paying the difference from the old reward. I.e. if you have LAX-DXB-DEL in J and want to move to F

    They will allow a one time date and time change or routing change to be more direct ie if you have LAX-SEA-DXB-SEZ to LAX-DXB-SEZ

    Upgrade to your ticketed cabin will be allowed i.e. if your flying LAX-DXB-AMS and your ticketed for J the whole way and are flying Y on DXB-AMS then DXB-AMS will be upgraded without any penalites.

  6. I have a mixed J/F award for travel in December that I was hoping to upgrade to all-F if the award space opens up in the days before the flight, so I guess now I’ll try to use my one time change for that. Though I do wonder if anyone at Alaska will even remember this one-time change policy by that point.

  7. Just my 2 cents…but I wouldn’t be surprised if Alaska gives their elites (actual butt-in-seat kind and not matched) opportunities to get “discounted” bookings on Emirates as targeted promotions. This would help appease their elite fliers and cut off all the “travel hacking”.
    Just curious, all the reports that Alaska made so much money on their FF program, are those numbers only the revenue they generated in sales or the actual net profit, in other words, taking into account their costs in redeeming those miles across the board?

  8. The people I feel for here are the travellers/couples who’ve saved up for their once-in-a-lifetime trip in EK first. It’s the mileag/award abusers like Lucky who I have no sympathy for. They’ve been up in arms not because they’re indignant of the effects on normal people but because suddenly their cake has been taken away from them and they won’t be able to dine at the top of the table anymore on award tickets. On a personal level, I’m quite relieved and glad that the F cabin is going to be more difficult to get into as it was getting way too irritating with all these bloggers taking photos of every single thing as if they’ve seen it for the first time in their lives and disturbing the peace and privacy. Either pay the fare like we do or shift to J/Y.

  9. I’ve been saving up Alaska points for a while now and even just got their credit card for the 30,000 bonus points to help get a free F seat on Emirates. What a waste! They should have just changed the rules so that only the member or an immediate family member could use the points. Or do like Singapore and only allow 5 nominated people to get tickets. They could have made it difficult to scam w/o putting them out of reach for everyone.

  10. My wife and I booked Emirates LAX to Dubai, a 3 day stay in Dubai and then onto the Maldives for February of 2017. We got in about a week before the devaluation. I’m “lucky”. We have 1st class LAX to Dubai and Business Dubai to MLE. I have called in several times about this. They told me that If 1st class becomes available Dubai to MLE they would also have to see a 1st class LAX to Dubai open up to exchange. They would make up the mileage difference to accommodate me. But, they were quick to point out that if I cancelled the ticket I would NOT get those extra miles put into my account. They did NOT tell me that I only get one change. So far no space has opened up to allow for this. Sort of hoping to get 1st class for the 4:35a.m. flight out of Dubai…

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