This is rough — Alaska Mileage Plan has just greatly increased many award costs for travel on Japan Airlines.
Alaska’s no-notice Japan Airlines award devaluation
Alaska Mileage Plan has just increased award pricing for travel on Japan Airlines with no notice. Unfortunately Mileage Plan no longer publishes an award chart with airline-specific pricing, so all we can do is look at examples to see what has changed.
For context, previously Alaska Mileage Plan one-way premium cabin redemption rates on Japan Airlines were as follows:
- Between the United States and Japan cost 60,000 miles in business class, 70,000 miles in first class
- Between the United States and Southeast Asia cost 65,000 miles in business class, 75,000 miles in first class
Unfortunately the mileage requirements have just changed by a lot. On the plus side, business class awards between the west coast of the United States and Japan continue to cost 60,000 miles.
Business class awards between the rest of the United States and Japan have increased in cost from 60,000 miles to 80,000 miles, a ~33% increase.
Meanwhile business class awards between much of the United States and Southeast Asia have increased in cost from 65,000 miles to 100,000 miles, a ~54% increase.
What about first class awards? First class awards between the west coast of the United States and Japan have increased in cost from 70,000 miles to 85,000 miles, while first class awards between the rest of the United States and Japan have increased in cost from 70,000 miles to 100,000 miles.
This is a disappointing development
Redeeming on Japan Airlines was one of the best uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles, so this is obviously a negative development. These aren’t just minor award cost increases, but rather we’re seeing some pricing increases of over 50%, which is brutal.
For that matter, this makes American AAdvantage look more and more compelling by comparison, as the program charges just 60,000 miles for business class to North Asia, and 70,000 miles for business class to Southeast Asia.
Even more disappointing is how Alaska Mileage Plan went about this. In late 2022, Mileage Plan introduced a “simplified” award chart. Rather than publishing a separate award chart for travel on each airline, the new award chart instead showed starting prices for each region, with no mention of specific airlines.
As I speculated at the time:
I can’t help but feel like this is the first step toward a devaluation, or increasingly dynamic pricing; after all, when people no longer have a point of reference of how much an award should cost, it’s much easier to change pricing
And yeah, that’s exactly what we’ve now seen. I’ll certainly have to adjust my valuation of Mileage Plan miles, as this was one of the best redemptions using these miles. It’s sad how many of the best award sweet spots have been eliminated in recent weeks. We’ve also seen Virgin Atlantic Flying Club devalue ANA awards, and we’ve seen Etihad Guest devalue partner awards.
Alaska Mileage Plan has just devalued award redemption rates for travel on Japan Airlines without notice. Business class awards to Asia have increased in cost from 60,000-65,000 miles, to 60,000-100,000 miles. Meanwhile first class awards have increased in cost from 70,000 miles to 100,000 miles.
This change follows Mileage Plan recently eliminating individual airline award charts, instead replacing them with a “simplified” award chart that just lists starting prices. As much as there are things to like about Alaska Mileage Plan, the redemption possibilities are starting to look significantly less compelling than through American AAdvantage.
What do you make of this Mileage Plan devaluation?