Ouch: Alaska Mileage Plan Devalues Japan Airlines Awards

Ouch: Alaska Mileage Plan Devalues Japan Airlines Awards

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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.

Alaska Mileage Plan redemption rates on JAL

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.

Alaska Mileage Plan redemption rates on JAL

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.

Alaska Mileage Plan redemption rates on JAL

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.

Alaska Mileage Plan redemption rates on JAL
Alaska Mileage Plan redemption rates on JAL
Japan Airlines awards are now more expensive

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.

The new “simplified” Mileage Plan award chart

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.

This is a really disappointing change from Mileage Plan

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (45)
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  1. JL Guest

    Ben, Please do a new post on the best Alaska miles sweet spots that are still alive. Time to burn...

  2. AKTCHI Guest

    While this is certainly a big disappointment, are free stopovers still in place?

  3. Secret Agent Guest

    Been lurking on Alaska's website literally 2-3 times a day for the past month looking for a 1-way from TYO to WAS. Until this week, my searches showed Econ/Biz/First - now it only shows Econ/First (with NO availability in first for 3+ months). So in addition to increasing redemptions, it appears (at least to the DC area) they no longer even show biz awards as an option and first shows up, but with no availability. Very frustrating.

  4. TomS Guest

    My friend spotted some devaluation on CX, too. Details are not yet seen but 22.5k to 27.5k. Damn.

  5. JC Edwards Guest

    It’s time to start ditching the whole airline loyalty scheme. If you devalue loyalty you simply end it. Good things go bad and bad things go bust.

  6. TProphet Member

    So, will you update your high valuation of Alaska miles, Lucky? And for that matter, how about all of the other programs which have recently, and hugely, devalued?

  7. glenn t Diamond

    AlaskaMP continues its slide into irrelevancy.
    Its domectic awards were always pretty trashy, and now it's partner awards are in for the same treatment.
    The promise of a better revamped program in OW has come to next to nothing so far as partner awards are concerned.
    The IT is miserable, with the necessity to phone in for many, many partner awards which may or may not be there. The call centre agents,...

    AlaskaMP continues its slide into irrelevancy.
    Its domectic awards were always pretty trashy, and now it's partner awards are in for the same treatment.
    The promise of a better revamped program in OW has come to next to nothing so far as partner awards are concerned.
    The IT is miserable, with the necessity to phone in for many, many partner awards which may or may not be there. The call centre agents, lovely as many of them are, haven't been very well trained and can't cope with anything out of the ordinary ( which is why youv'e phoned) and will charge you the phone fee for something unavailable on-line if you don't watch what they are doing.
    MP has gone from my favorite of 8 or so years ago to one I rarely attempt to book an award on now.
    Sad.

    1. NotMyName Guest

      I don't agree with the IT part. Are they great? no. But if you want horrid, head over to Iberia. Be prepared for intermittent log in troubles for no reason at all, PW reset emails that never come, constant crashes on the site when searching awards, having to clear browser history every 3-5 searches, and a whole host of other issues.

      AS IT isn't great, but it isn't the worst by a long shot.

  8. Doug Guest

    Is booking JAL with AS points refundable?

    1. Hiro Guest

      Yes, but not back to cash

  9. Paul Lanyi Guest

    yes, pricing has increased without notice. That sucks.
    But what is far worse, Japan Airlines business class availability on points on Alaska Airlines from LAX to Tokyo (either airport) has evaporated. I checked June through January and found one business class seat on JAL for points. *One* on JAL through January. Last week, the pickings were slim (I’ve been checking), but boom, they’re (almost) all gone. What’s happened with Alaska and JAL?

    1. glenn t Diamond

      Many OW prtners are just not giving inventory to Alaska, simple as that.
      Don't know why, but suspect it's all to do with MONEY.
      It is meant to be a two-way street, but Alaska wants it both ways, and won't play fairly.

  10. Cedric Guest

    I know companies get some compensation for the points, but its clearly not very profitable or airlines would be actually make it easy to book. With inflation and the way prices have gone up, expect massive devaluation of points/awards in the coming year.

    1. Dominic Kivni Guest

      It's profitable, it's just not as profitable to fill a premium cabin seat with a saver award as it is with a cash paying passenger. If you look at the dollar value of the number of points needed for a saver premium cabin seat, it's even lower than the lowest discount cash fares you would see. Intuitively, this makes sense, that's why people are so eager to have saver award redemptions rather than pay any...

      It's profitable, it's just not as profitable to fill a premium cabin seat with a saver award as it is with a cash paying passenger. If you look at the dollar value of the number of points needed for a saver premium cabin seat, it's even lower than the lowest discount cash fares you would see. Intuitively, this makes sense, that's why people are so eager to have saver award redemptions rather than pay any cash fare that's available, because it's cheaper on an equivalent basis. Airlines don't want to sell cheap tickets, and they definitely don't want to sell a cheap ticket that they otherwise would have gotten much more cash for

  11. David Diamond

    Just waiting for the other shoe to drop now. Can't imagine Cathay being far behind in devaluation.

  12. Edgar Guest

    It's too late now. As long as we have blogs like these blaring upon low mileage awards etc etc then get ready for devaluation after devaluation as the accounts department of these airlines get alerted by people like Ben!

  13. Todd Guest

    Ben, you remind me of a friend of mine, WHO WANTS EVERYTHING FOR NOTHING

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Todd -- You remind me of someone who adds no value to a topic.

    2. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Thank for adding literally nothing to the conversation.

    3. Andrew Diamond

      Aww, Todd. Do you own ALK? Down 4% today. ;-)

    4. Billy Bob Guest

      Get off his case, Todd. This is just a game we're all playing!

  14. BC Guest

    I found SFO-HND F increased from 70k to 85k. C remains at 60k as you wrote.

  15. BConn Guest

    Devaluations happen, but it's not a fair comparison between AA miles and Alaska miles as Alaska miles are still given based on distance and not spend. You can rack up Alaska miles very easily (if you fly) compared to AA. I guess something has to give.

  16. Paul Guest

    Luckily we were able to book our flights to Japan back in December. We have made the decision just this week to drop our AS credit cards after 20 plus years. There is almost no availability of AS British AL awards in 2024 so where to use miles. Feels crazy to use 70k miles to fly to Hawaii. It was great while it lasted. We will always remember our first class Emirates flight for hardly any miles.

  17. Anthony Guest

    My viewpoint as an AS 100k is this: four years ago fly AS 100k miles=280k RDM, now fly AS 100k=350k RDM! For AS flyers we're still ahead, and that doesn't seem all that bad!

    1. Daniel Guest

      Would someone kindly translate Anthony's post for me?

    2. ASFlyin Guest

      Precisely this. If you are a 100k, AS's plan is still more than profitable. 350k RDM will get you a lot of flights around the world compared to a program like SkyPesos where 350k might get you a single flight. It was inevitable that award charts would change.

  18. Clem Diamond

    Ouch. That one hurts, this was how I used most of my Alaska miles and I was waiting for the new cabins to come out to book something, especially because ANA has become completely impossible to book. Very disappointed!

  19. Alec-14 Member

    Glad I got JFK-HND in first booked already. Now here’s to hoping I get the new suite!

  20. ben Guest

    Is there the possibility to fly from Europe-Asia now with JL at least?

  21. Terry Terajima Guest

    I just looked for April 30/May 1 for TYO-LAX and it’s still 60,000 for Business Class.

    Did this just start this morning??

    1. Tonei Glavinic Guest

      The article says J between Japan and the west coast didn’t change.

    2. Terry Terajima Guest

      It sure did, didn’t it:-)

      Thanks for pointing that out! PHEW!!

  22. Lee Guest

    And a candy bar was 10 cents when I was a kid. We never refer to dollar devaluation. We refer to price inflation. Ought not we should refer to point price inflation rather than point devaluation? Isn't that what we're truly discussing. Do we not expect price inflation with everything else we buy? Certainly, we don't like it. But, it is not as if an airline is cheating us out of some birthright. And, Alaska warned "starting at."

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Exactly.

      It's award price inflation!

  23. pstm91 Diamond

    Japan is experiencing it's highest ever demand for this upcoming spring. JAL and ANA first and business are selling out, even with very high rates. Do you think it's possible those airlines have made VS and AS increase their mileage redemption costs?

  24. Tom Guest

    Awards on BA in First and Business have also gone up from what I saw this weekend. F from 70K to 80K to London from the west coast, for instance.

    Alaska MP is close to losing its edge,

  25. Frank Guest

    Didnt Alaska say they would give customers 90 day notice? Lucky please press them, you are our voice.
    We need to stop businesses imposing their devaluations and we just agreeing. No one holds them accountable.

    1. Kendall Guest

      We were given 90 days notice for the new award chart in 2022. Unfortunately the "starting from" language in the award price absolves them from giving us notice for any pricing changes unless they increase the minimum price. Everyone saw this coming.

    2. Jake Guest

      Disagree with you Kendall. If that is the case, why do they kept 70 k first class consistent until now? They event sent out an email saying that so far nothing have been changed. They did not gave us a specific date on which day this new dynamic pricing will kick in. I am very disappointed at Alaska and will no longer consider them to be the most valuable loyalty program going forward.

    3. Kendall Guest

      They didn't need to tell us which day the price will change. As soon as they launched the new award chart, we knew the price could increase at any moment. As I said, everyone saw this coming. We were lucky that they even gave us a couple extra months at the 70k price, nobody expected that

  26. KATA Member

    Meanwhile, awards within Asia have doubled in price. From 25k to 50k in Business. ouch

  27. Leo Liang Guest

    no 90 day warning as what Alaska Promised?

    1. Tony Guest

      They've already warned you with its simplified award chart.

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

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Todd -- You remind me of someone who adds no value to a topic.

13
TravelinWilly Diamond

Thank for adding literally nothing to the conversation.

6
KATA Member

Meanwhile, awards within Asia have doubled in price. From 25k to 50k in Business. ouch

5
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