Alaska Increases Some First Class Award Costs

Alaska Increases Some First Class Award Costs

17

Alaska Mileage Plan is increasing some award redemption rates for first class travel on Alaska Airlines. Personally I don’t view this being as a huge deal, though others feel differently.

Alaska first class award prices increasing March 2022

The Alaska Mileage Plan award chart has been updated to reflect higher award costs for select first class flights. Here are the changes, which kick in as of March 1, 2022:

  • For one-way flights of 1,401 to 2,100 miles within the continental United States, first class currently costs 25,000-60,000 miles, while it will soon cost 25,000 to 70,000 miles
  • For one-way flights of 2,101 or more miles within the continental United States, first class currently costs 30,000-70,000 miles, while it will soon cost 30,000 to 95,000 miles
  • For one-way flights between the continental United States and Hawaii, first class currently costs 40,000 to 80,000 miles, while it will soon cost 40,000 to 95,000 miles

Below is the Mileage Plan award chart for travel within the continental United States.

Below is the Mileage Plan award chart for travel between the continental United States and Hawaii.

Just to emphasize a few points:

  • This only impacts flights on Alaska Airlines metal, and not flights on partner airlines
  • This only impacts flights of 1,401+ miles
  • This only applies in situations where there’s not saver level award availability, as the maximum amount of miles charged for non-saver awards will be increasing
Some Alaska first class awards are getting more expensive

I don’t view this as being a huge deal

For those looking to maximize miles, I don’t consider this devaluation to be that significant:

  • Redeeming miles for non-saver level awards on Alaska Airlines rarely represents a good deal, compared to the ways to use Mileage Plan miles on partner airlines
  • Personally I’m much more concerned about the new redemption partners that Alaska Mileage Plan is adding (including Royal Air Maroc and Royal Jordanian), which have frustratingly high redemption rates compared to previous partners, and that makes me concerned about the future of the program

View from the Wing is frustrated that Alaska didn’t provide 90 days notice of the change, as the airline did indicate that it hopes to provide 90 days of notice for award chart devaluations, after the no-notice Emirates devaluation back in 2016. I see where Gary is coming from, but personally I think that frustration is more on principle than practical:

  • Alaska is providing nearly a month of advance notice about this change
  • At least Alaska has a published award chart, and provides advance notice of changes, unlike other airlines
  • This isn’t the same as a partner award chart devaluation; realistically if you’re booking travel on Alaska many months out, you shouldn’t be paying the highest published award costs

I view this as being different than if Alaska devalued partner awards with little notice. The issue with devaluing awards with little notice is that members collect miles in good faith, and perhaps they have a particular redemption in mind, and they continue to earn toward that. I don’t think many people are earning miles with the specific long-term goal of redeeming in Alaska first class at the highest possible award cost.

I’m more concerned about Alaska’s award rates for new partners

Bottom line

Alaska Mileage Plan is increasing the cost of some first class awards as of March 1, 2022. Specifically, the cap on award costs for first class on Alaska’s longest flights will be going up. Partner award costs, saver first class award costs, and economy award costs, aren’t changing.

While no one likes award prices going up, I’m at least happy it’s a non-optimal redemption that’s getting devalued, rather than one of the program’s best redemption options. Then again, with Alaska’s award pricing on new partner airlines, the future of partner awards isn’t looking too bright either.

What do you make of this Mileage Plan devaluation?

Conversations (17)
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.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. JR Guest

    Hard disagree. Ben, you come across as a shill in this post — no offense. What happened to 90 days? What is loyalty?

  2. Azamaraal Guest

    Alaska First is a total joke. At best it is a poor premium economy.

  3. DCS Diamond

    In the past an Alaska Airlines spokesperson had also stated that the company hopes to provide at least 90 days notice of any award chart changes, so I’d expect that to be the case going forward.

    I believe that this is another case of self-anointed "travel gurus" misinterpreting or reinterpreting a loyalty program term, rule, condition or statement to make its meaning more favorable and expansive than originally intended by the program. Then. invariably,...

    In the past an Alaska Airlines spokesperson had also stated that the company hopes to provide at least 90 days notice of any award chart changes, so I’d expect that to be the case going forward.

    I believe that this is another case of self-anointed "travel gurus" misinterpreting or reinterpreting a loyalty program term, rule, condition or statement to make its meaning more favorable and expansive than originally intended by the program. Then. invariably, they accuse the program of duplicity when reality intrudes and a program implements something according to its interpretation of its own rule rather than according to self-anointed "travel gurus'" mis/reinterpretation of it. A case in point is the outrage the followed the realization that SPG's "best room available" did not mean "guaranteed" suite upgrades as reinterpreted in travel blogopshere.

    As in the quoted claim, which is hardly dispositive, I see references and links to where Alaska Air purportedly 'promised' to give a 90-day notice before modifying its own or partner award chart, but when I get there I never see the "promise" itself exactly as stated by Alaska. Context is always important, especially since virtually every loyalty program, Mileage Plan included, reserves the right to implement programmatic changes, except program termination, without prior notice to members...

  4. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    Does Ben even write One Mile at A Time these days? In the old days, he never would have tolerated this dishonesty. Lately, almost all of the articles are almost exclusively guides, puff pieces for credit card promotion, or free advertising for his partner's travel agent company. Is Ben paying a ghost writer? The blog is actually worse than The Points Guy these days.

    1. Andrew Gold

      I think there’s some integrity to saying “if you booked this award you’re a sucker.” TPG would always include it in a top 10 reasons to get that Alaska card article.

      Also, at least this blog allows comments. TPG is like “we don’t care who you are just clickem referral links.”

  5. Stan Guest

    I’ve noticed every time AA makes code shares and contacts with other airlines prices go up !!
    Jet Blue, Alaska…..
    The other good airlines become less desirable.
    Every time.

  6. Michael M Guest

    Alaska Airlines has quietly devalued partner awards on JL-- they are now 60,000+ business/ 70,000+ first class, per their website award charts. Alaska for some reason for the past 2 weeks has either been showing a sudden increase in phantom award availability or they are blocking booking premium awards on several partners when one gets to the final step of trying to complete an online award booking.

    1. Brizone Gold

      Not the first time they've done that, either.

  7. Bobo Guest

    Just one more data point in a series of bloody finger pricks by my favorite airline. Together they add up to bleeding toward becoming American Airlines Jr. Still better but headed that way. Tiny negative changes but no positive ones.

  8. Beachfan Guest

    These changes should be viewed in the context of new partner charts, the dynamic award pricing on AA (maybe good for Y, horrible for TATL C) and now this.

    On key routes, this is first seat pricing, not last seat . Three rooms of the house have gone to crap, but you aren’t concerned yet?

    What non Asian partners are you thinking is so good?

    Easy to have deals to Asia. Once tourism opens, those will be gone too.

  9. Regis Guest

    Alaska's premiuim cabin product is mediocre at best. This is non-news. So insignicant it hardly qualifies as a devaluation.

    1. Bobo Guest

      Disagree. Domestic first is light years better than American, for example. Food that is often actually delicious and consistently nice service.

    2. Seattle Todd Guest

      Couldn't agree with Bobo and disagree with Regis more. Yes, Alaska doesn't have lie flat seats in transcon first class. Got it. But for the other 96% of their routes, their hard product is no worse if not better than other domestic carriers, and their food is light years better.

  10. Gary Leff Guest

    "View from the Wing is frustrated that Alaska didn’t provide 90 days notice of the change...I think that frustration is more on principle than practical"

    Respectfully, 90 days is what Alaska committed to, there may be times when contractually they cannot but that's clearly not the case with own-metal awards. So in a sense it's *worse* when they do it with their own metal than with partners. There's no external coordination required, they can make...

    "View from the Wing is frustrated that Alaska didn’t provide 90 days notice of the change...I think that frustration is more on principle than practical"

    Respectfully, 90 days is what Alaska committed to, there may be times when contractually they cannot but that's clearly not the case with own-metal awards. So in a sense it's *worse* when they do it with their own metal than with partners. There's no external coordination required, they can make the changes whenever they wish - if they'd forgotten to notify members, just delay the change 60 more days.

    A month isn't enough not because members have to redeem now rather than waiting in order to get the best price - members look to the award chart to know *how many miles they'll need to redeem* in other words to set a goal and earn towards that goal. While members are on a quest towards that goal they get the rug pulled out from under them.

    Ultimately I personally care less about these awards than partner redemptions. But when Alaska won't honor their advance notice commitment EVEN FOR own-metal redemptions my concern isn't principle it makes me TRUST THEM LESS.

    And fundamentally the value of a currency is based on trust about how well it will hold value. So it makes me downgrade how much I value an Alaska mile. Although seeing the direction of award pricing with new partners I've begun to do that anyway, since they clearly appear to be on a downward trajectory, and I tend to expect that as bilateral contracts get renegotiated we'll see more increases even for legacy partners.

    1. eponymous coward Guest

      That is pretty much my read as well. With Cathay on ventilators due to COVID (and I suspect they will likely move to a J+/Y+/Y configuration as a carrier more like BR/CI as Hong Kong continues to recede into China if they don’t just end up as Air China) most of the excess value of AS Mileage Plan for high end aspirational redemptions is confined to stopovers, JL J/F into SE Asia/India, QF premium unicorns,...

      That is pretty much my read as well. With Cathay on ventilators due to COVID (and I suspect they will likely move to a J+/Y+/Y configuration as a carrier more like BR/CI as Hong Kong continues to recede into China if they don’t just end up as Air China) most of the excess value of AS Mileage Plan for high end aspirational redemptions is confined to stopovers, JL J/F into SE Asia/India, QF premium unicorns, and maybe BA F (if you can find it)- if you actually value a BA F redemption as an aspirational redemption (I hear certain bloggers have opinions on BA F). ;)

      Right now… I’d have to say AS and AA miles are pretty close to par for me given how AS is adding partners where the awards are anywhere from modest premiums to “LOL, really?” to what you can get on AA. (That being said, the niche cases do have value, stopovers do have value, and I don’t have a lot of confidence that the AA chart is going to be around in current form 18-24 months from now- AS’s chart may last longer).

    2. Brizone Gold

      I can't see how Cathay survives given the restrictions placed upon them. Xi is finally reeling them in (they only need to buy another 27.3% for outright control, a stake that's becoming cheaper by the hour). I too suspect they'll be absorbed by Air China, possibly in just the next year or two given the current trajectory. So sad. :(

    3. Andrew Gold

      It’s an industry norm to have evaporating value. I’m surprised you trusted loyalty programs at all before this.

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.

Gary Leff Guest

"View from the Wing is frustrated that Alaska didn’t provide 90 days notice of the change...I think that frustration is more on principle than practical" Respectfully, 90 days is what Alaska committed to, there may be times when contractually they cannot but that's clearly not the case with own-metal awards. So in a sense it's *worse* when they do it with their own metal than with partners. There's no external coordination required, they can make the changes whenever they wish - if they'd forgotten to notify members, just delay the change 60 more days. A month isn't enough not because members have to redeem now rather than waiting in order to get the best price - members look to the award chart to know *how many miles they'll need to redeem* in other words to set a goal and earn towards that goal. While members are on a quest towards that goal they get the rug pulled out from under them. Ultimately I personally care less about these awards than partner redemptions. But when Alaska won't honor their advance notice commitment EVEN FOR own-metal redemptions my concern isn't principle it makes me TRUST THEM LESS. And fundamentally the value of a currency is based on trust about how well it will hold value. So it makes me downgrade how much I value an Alaska mile. Although seeing the direction of award pricing with new partners I've begun to do that anyway, since they clearly appear to be on a downward trajectory, and I tend to expect that as bilateral contracts get renegotiated we'll see more increases even for legacy partners.

3
DCS Diamond

<blockquote>In the past an Alaska Airlines spokesperson had also stated that the company <b>hopes</b> to provide <b>at least</b> <i>90 days </i> notice of any award chart changes, so <b>I’d expect that to be the case going forward</b>.</blockquote> I believe that this is another case of self-anointed "travel gurus" misinterpreting or reinterpreting a loyalty program term, rule, condition or statement to make its meaning more favorable and expansive than originally intended by the program. Then. invariably, they accuse the program of duplicity when reality intrudes and a program implements something according to its interpretation of its own rule rather than according to self-anointed "travel gurus'" mis/reinterpretation of it. A case in point is the outrage the followed the realization that SPG's "best room available" did not mean "guaranteed" suite upgrades as reinterpreted in travel blogopshere. As in the quoted claim, which is hardly dispositive, I see references and links to where Alaska Air purportedly 'promised' to give a 90-day notice before modifying its own or partner award chart, but when I get there I never see the "promise" itself exactly as stated by Alaska. Context is always important, especially since virtually every loyalty program, Mileage Plan included, reserves the right to implement programmatic changes, except program termination, <i>without prior notice to members...</i>

1
Brizone Gold

I can't see how Cathay survives given the restrictions placed upon them. Xi is finally reeling them in (they only need to buy another 27.3% for outright control, a stake that's becoming cheaper by the hour). I too suspect they'll be absorbed by Air China, possibly in just the next year or two given the current trajectory. So sad. :(

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT