Alaska Airlines Flyer Forum: What Was Discussed?

Alaska Airlines Flyer Forum: What Was Discussed?

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Yesterday evening, Alaska Airlines held an interesting event for frequent flyers. I wanted to recap what was discussed, for those who didn’t have the chance to tune in.

Basics of the Alaska Airlines “Flyer Forum”

Several weeks ago, Alaska Airlines reached out to select frequent flyers, offering them an invitation to a first-ever in-person Flyer Forum with Alaska Airlines leaders. This took place yesterday evening (Monday, December 5, 2022), at 4PM PST (7PM EST).

The cool thing is that anyone could tune in, as you could view this directly on YouTube.

Here’s how Alaska Airlines described this event in its invitation email:

Connecting with our loyal Mileage Plan members is important to us. That’s why we’re creating something new: The Flyer Forum. It’s a more personal way for members to interact with Alaska leaders.

At this in-person event hosted by Everett Fitzhugh, broadcaster for the Seattle Kraken, you’ll hear company updates from our President and CEO Ben Minicucci and a few of our Alaska leaders. They’ll share what’s coming in 2023 and beyond including valuable oneworld benefits, new additions to our fleet, and innovations to improve your experience with us. Then, we’ll finish with a Q&A session moderated by Everett.

I decided to tune in, even though 7PM ET is really pushing it for me, in terms of my bedtime (no, I’m not in a different timezone, I’m just weird).

Alaska Airlines hosted an event for frequent flyers

Recapping the Alaska Airlines “Flyer Forum”

Many of us feared that major changes would be announced during the event, given that we know Alaska Mileage Plan intends to make award pricing changes as of late December 2022. For better or worse, there were no significant announcements during the event. Quite to the contrary, it mostly just recapped what the airline has already done.

A few thoughts on the overall presentation:

  • Kudos to Alaska Airlines for hosting something like this; it’s not often you see a “town hall” of sorts for airline customers, which is broadcast online
  • The emceeing seemed almost awkwardly over the top and unnecessary for this kind of event; given that the event only lasted for an hour, it felt a bit like unnecessary fluff
  • It was awesome to hear from different Alaska Airlines executives (it’s always nice to put a face to a name), and you could definitely tell that some were better prepared than others
  • Most of the information in the presentation was stuff we already knew — Alaska executives were recapping what the oneworld alliance means for Alaska frequent flyers, how Alaska Airlines is upgrading its airport facilities, the carrier’s plan to switch to a simplified fleet, etc.
  • No one can accuse Alaska Airlines of screening the in-person Q&As, because that rant from the million miler member was something all right; it would have been nice if the airline saved more time for in-person Q&As
  • I was a bit disappointed by some of the non-answers to questions, like about upgrade availability; in fairness, it seemed like Alaska executives were serious about the feedback

So, did we actually learn anything?

  • In Q1 2023 there will be some sort of an opportunity for elite status members who didn’t requalify to earn their status back, though we don’t know any details beyond that
  • Reciprocal upgrades between American & Alaska should be extended to lower elite tiers in the next several weeks, maybe even before the end of the year
  • In 2020 and 2021 elite ranks have been swelled by roughly 40%, and the goal is to get them back to pre-pandemic levels
  • When talking about oneworld first class award redemptions, Alaska’s VP of Network & Alliances suggests that Japan Airlines might be introducing a new first class product, and I’m not sure if he just misspoke, or revealed something he shouldn’t have — “whereas a carrier like JAL might have had eight seats in first class, their new product only has six”
We didn’t learn about partner award changes!

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines hosted its first ever Flyer Forum. It’s nice that Alaska did something like this for frequent flyers, as it’s not often you see airlines having such an open dialogue. For those who are savvy about the Mileage Plan program, there wasn’t a whole lot of new information here, and there were no details about any upcoming Mileage Plan changes.

If anything, the biggest revelation here was about Japan Airlines introducing a new first class product, though that could have very well been a mistake.

If you tuned in to the Alaska Airlines Flyer Forum, what did you think?

Conversations (47)
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  1. Anthony Joseph Guest

    Your link to Youtube indicated that the video is private. Is there any way you can send it to me?

  2. Anthony Joseph Guest

    I have been top tier flier for the past 27 years, million miler, Gold 100K, am at 1.8Million actual miles and I didn't even get an invite.

    My complaint is that million milers don't get anything different for day of depature upgrade priority. THe only difference between miilion miler status was a free meal from Gold 75K and that too was diminished with Gold 100K members getting the upgrade.

    The one thing that none of...

    I have been top tier flier for the past 27 years, million miler, Gold 100K, am at 1.8Million actual miles and I didn't even get an invite.

    My complaint is that million milers don't get anything different for day of depature upgrade priority. THe only difference between miilion miler status was a free meal from Gold 75K and that too was diminished with Gold 100K members getting the upgrade.

    The one thing that none of the bloggers has pointed out is that EQM's have been sneakily put in and so the elite tier qualification is butt seat miles. Has anyone calculated how many flights it would take to get 100K butt seat miles on AS routes? It is ridiculous....

    I think that AS can do more for their million milers who continue to maintain annual top tier status with comp upgrades beyond the "U" space that is always blocked out for long haul (eg transcon and Hawaii flights) and exception upgrades when redeeming awards at least 3 months out. I can't count how many times I have redeemed business class and first class partner International awards but couldn't get any award space from PDX to gateway city, but I could book the AS segment separately using a boat load of extra miles.

    If AS is serious about getting feedback, why don't they set up a separate email address at minimum for frequent fliers with status.

  3. Andrew Diamond

    I've always wondered about Alaska in OW, and the general relationship of the 'bottom feeders' (butts in seats, few international destinations, "first class" in name only) and the relationship with the rest of the network.

    Having seeing what VS pays ANA for award tickets, I can't think the points alone are that lucrative for partners that AS pays. And no sane JMB Diamond is going to say "you know what I need? A s**ty...

    I've always wondered about Alaska in OW, and the general relationship of the 'bottom feeders' (butts in seats, few international destinations, "first class" in name only) and the relationship with the rest of the network.

    Having seeing what VS pays ANA for award tickets, I can't think the points alone are that lucrative for partners that AS pays. And no sane JMB Diamond is going to say "you know what I need? A s**ty flight between LAX and RNO" or "how about an upright seat between SFO and HNL?"

  4. Steve Estes Guest

    Thanks for the synopsis. I listened to a few minutes of the call. Ironically, during the call, I was on an Alaska Airlines flight to Kona. Our bags did not arrive and we had to deal with that. We only caught a few minutes at the end of the call.
    We asked, via chat, where the You Tube replay was. The link we were given was deleted.
    I haven’t tried the link you provided, as im on another flight, soon to be landing in SEA from KOA.
    Thanks.

  5. Justin Hollister Guest

    Ben - could you elaborate on your comment about elite ranks "swelling"? If they're looking to reduce the number of elites, curious why they'd offer an option in Q1 for people to requalify for status they lost this year.

  6. Aviator Guest

    Did Alaska execs address the lousy conditions in the lounges??? Dirty, not serviced properly, old and worn out seating, lazy staff, etc., etc.?

  7. iamhere Guest

    Who cares. Really. Nobody really cares to put names to faces. Nobody really cares about their plans unless it is confirmed. At this point points and loyalty programs are huge money makers for the companies.

  8. alex Guest

    As to Japan Airlines, there is a great possibility of introducing new product of first class. Their fleet renewal is in progress replacing Boeing 777 with Airbus 350. For domestic service, delivery of 15 A350-900s (2019-2022) has been completed. For International service, JAL will put their first A350-1000 into service some time in 2023 though no official announcement has been made.

  9. KLS Guest

    I also appreciate the forum. I thought it was interesting. It did feel really scripted up to the in person Q&A. I appreciate the sharing of future plans and the intention of making things better. Flying out of Portland, I get it will be better. Never had major issues in Portland though. Checking in to a flight from Cancun a few weeks ago was painful. And, I’m curious who won miles?

  10. RF Diamond

    I hope Alaska and other U.S. airlines host more events like this. I agree with less fluff please. Frequent flyers don't need to hear old news. Give us something new and give more time for questions.

  11. G Campbell Guest

    It was refreshing to see an airline do something innovative, even though no “earth shattering news” was released. As long as I have been a Mileage Plan member, Alaska Airlines has been ahead of other domestic airlines in creating a culture of engagement with its loyal customers.
    The takeaway can be summed up by the one line statement from CEO, Ben Minicucci: (paraphrasing) We received a wealth of customer data from all the questions/...

    It was refreshing to see an airline do something innovative, even though no “earth shattering news” was released. As long as I have been a Mileage Plan member, Alaska Airlines has been ahead of other domestic airlines in creating a culture of engagement with its loyal customers.
    The takeaway can be summed up by the one line statement from CEO, Ben Minicucci: (paraphrasing) We received a wealth of customer data from all the questions/ concerns from our Mileage Plan members first-ever Flyer Forum. If history is any indication of how Alaska Airlines conducts engagement with its Mileage Plan members, we will see them address these issues.

  12. D3kingg Guest

    I liked my DAL LAX trip in F on the embraer in F . The food on Alaska was decent.

  13. Tim Dunn Diamond

    and all this played out wihile AS' operations in SEA have been yet another December hot mess with cancellations and delays far above the rate of other airlines.

  14. Steve Guest

    I received an invite and my rsvp was confirmed but never got any information on how to tune in. Good work Alaska.

    1. glenn t Guest

      Just as well nothing much happened Steve!

  15. RF Diamond

    So what questions did they actually answer?

  16. HS, the average consumer using / paying off credit card to build miles... Guest

    For those members that were unable to attend, I hope a synopsis will be provided. I am not a 1M miler, but have 400K related to inability to travel over the last 4 years. Hoping that there will be no detractors from this...

  17. RovinMoses Guest

    And, my FA recognized CEO as I watched. She wondered what it was, then praised the first class event that the airline put on for 13,000 employees.

  18. RovinMoses Guest

    Exec praised pitch in business and premium while evading coach. .mostly a promotion that I watched to kill time at 34000 ft., EWR LAX. Waiting for email prize notification, but out of 30k online, what are the odds?

  19. Non mvp Guest

    Corporate speak in a consolidated and grim industry. The whiny million mole fliers were funny. They want something for nothing.

    1. Widerightv Member

      They've accumulated 1,000,000 miles, & you think they want something for nothing??? Do you know how many Bedsores you need to accumulate before you reach 1,000,000 miles???
      However, the main questioner about the 1M fliers couldn't shut up. So challenge you on one, but "whiney" on the one guy being funny, I'll grant you.

    2. derek Guest

      10 years ago, I was at 700,000 miles on Delta but I defected from the Soviet Republic of Delta. Instead, I became a free agent so now I am merely at 800,000 at Delta. However, I didn't defect to Alaska except that Alaska is my somewhat preferred airline to Seattle and Anchorage and rarely SFO-JFK.

  20. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

    So if you didn't watch, you didn't miss anything. Literally nothing. Other than the angry million miler.

    1. Matthew Guest

      As a former Delta Diamond gone AS 100K, this event was wildly disappointing. Going to be writing in with some suggestions myself.
      AS will continue to be the industry leader for reclining seats in First Class and Gold Guest Upgrades will be frustrating for at least the next 12-18 months. Despite their devaluation, Delta made redeeming RUC’s and GUC’s straightforward, simple, and relatively available.

    2. Widerightv Member

      See my response to Non mvp above.
      I think that there was a little more meat on the bone than you give credit to. Actually, you may write about, in future postings about some of the minutiae that was presented.

    3. mgrappy New Member

      The million miler guy's rant was classic. And I think they handled him well.

    4. anthony joseph Guest

      The Youtube link you provided indicates the video is "private".
      Any chance you the video to me?

      Thanks

  21. derek Guest

    Thanks for the heads up, Ben. Over 5,000 people watched online.

  22. Brian G. Member

    The million miler guy sure was upset. :-)

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Brian G. -- Hahahah, probably the most interesting part of the whole thing.

  23. iolaire mcfadden Guest

    Thank you for the link. I also registered and didn't receive an email.

    1. Widerightv Member

      I registered on the original email. I received a response to how to link to this at 8:20 AM PST (just looked at my in box to verify this time).

  24. Michael P McGrath Guest

    taking too long to get started, I DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR KRAKEN GUY, I DO CARE ABOUT WHAT ALASKA HAS TO SAY, and he still hasn't said anything. Good-bye!

    1. Widerightv Member

      Agreed. But I didn't say Good-bye. I stayed.

  25. glenn t Diamond

    Some of the benefits of inviting 'select' forum participants are that they are doing their best to not risk losing control of the narrative, and forestall pesky, awkward and unsympathetic questions or comment which could spoil or derail the event. All proven event-planning procedure.
    As to the likely big announcement, it is clear from their words than dynamic pricing of awards is at the centre.
    Whether it is reasonable or nuclear remains to...

    Some of the benefits of inviting 'select' forum participants are that they are doing their best to not risk losing control of the narrative, and forestall pesky, awkward and unsympathetic questions or comment which could spoil or derail the event. All proven event-planning procedure.
    As to the likely big announcement, it is clear from their words than dynamic pricing of awards is at the centre.
    Whether it is reasonable or nuclear remains to be seen, but they have imposed some pretty outrageous mileage redemption rates on OneWorld partners as they trickle online. (Maybe they've taken a look at at FlyingBlue to see how crazy they could go.)
    We will all know soon enough.

  26. Sue Larson Guest

    I also plan on being there, too. I also have not received any updates since 11/14. Hope to hear from them soon so that I can get signed in.

    1. Valerie Nolz Guest

      It looks like you have to give credit card information?!?! Is this a scam??No, no updates either and did they ask you for credit card information?

    2. Dwondermeant Guest

      Well if they become as crappy as everyone else why bother?
      I have to go out of my way to fly Alaska
      Might as well suck it up with AA UA & Delta
      They have way more flight options
      Alaska FC food always disappoints and the leg room in first no great shakes either
      Alaska may have joined one world, but unless you fly out of Seattle or Portland good...

      Well if they become as crappy as everyone else why bother?
      I have to go out of my way to fly Alaska
      Might as well suck it up with AA UA & Delta
      They have way more flight options
      Alaska FC food always disappoints and the leg room in first no great shakes either
      Alaska may have joined one world, but unless you fly out of Seattle or Portland good luck to u.Alaska now thinks it’s the largest carrier in the US all of a sudden.
      Customer Service has nose dived too
      The worst to come is likely

    3. Widerightv Member

      I registered on the original email. I received a response to how to link to this at 8:20 AM PST (just looked at my in box to verify this time).

  27. john Guest

    Can't wait for the "improvements" as partner redemption's get nuked from orbit.

  28. Ghostrider5408 Guest

    AS reached to many of us who accepted however as of this post many of us have not heard back as promised by AS sad further deterioration and lack of confidence in Alaska's current management.

    There is an opening at Sky Team maybe "ben" will call them much better than OW.

    Happy Holidays All

  29. Jackson Meyer Guest

    Oh I’m going to be there, I’ve had my calendar marked since I got the email, but never got follow up details. I’m going to try to win some miles and such as indicated by the email ;)

    1. Valerie Nolz Guest

      I think this was a joke!

    1. Mike Guest

      For those of us who get up at 3 or so perfectly reasonable! Although I generally make it to 8

    2. Mary Guest

      I only lasted to the part where the female was talking (and talking and talking) about getting through baggage drop off faster. Of course, I heard nothing about the fact that they want to charge you $70 to have this "electronic bag tag." Didn't stick around to hear the angry million miler but that would have been a highlight.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

So if you didn't watch, you didn't miss anything. Literally nothing. Other than the angry million miler.

6
Widerightv Member

They've accumulated 1,000,000 miles, & you think they want something for nothing??? Do you know how many Bedsores you need to accumulate before you reach 1,000,000 miles??? However, the main questioner about the 1M fliers couldn't shut up. So challenge you on one, but "whiney" on the one guy being funny, I'll grant you.

3
Tim Dunn Diamond

and all this played out wihile AS' operations in SEA have been yet another December hot mess with cancellations and delays far above the rate of other airlines.

2
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