Uh Oh: Alaska Mileage Plan Partner Award Changes

Uh Oh: Alaska Mileage Plan Partner Award Changes

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Alaska Airlines has posted an update to its Mileage Plan award chart page. While details are limited, I can’t imagine that this is going to be good news.

Alaska Airlines making partner award changes

Here’s the full update posted to Alaska Airlines’ website:

Good news for 2022!  Cathay Pacific awards will be available to book on alaskaair.com in October and LATAM awards will be available before the end of 2022.

Starting late December, the way you view award charts online is changing. We’ll have a simplified award chart to show you where award levels start based on which regions you’re traveling from and to. With this change, similar to awards on Alaska, partner award levels may vary depending on multiple factors including route, distance, or demand. You’ll continue to be able to enjoy great value for your miles. As always, the best way to view pricing and availability for the routes you’re interested in flying is to search for your specific travel dates and destinations. 

To recap:

  • Before the end of the year it’ll be possible to book Cathay Pacific and LATAM awards on Alaska Airlines’ website
  • As of late December 2022, Alaska will have a simplified award chart where starting award levels are displayed based on which region you’re traveling from and to
  • Similar to how Mileage Plan has dynamic award pricing on Alaska, there will also be more factors that impact partner award levels, including route, distance, and demand
Alaska Mileage Plan is making partner award changes

My take on this ominous Alaska Mileage Plan announcement

Despite this announcement starting with “good news,” I think it’s safe to say that on balance this development won’t be good news. Of course Cathay Pacific and LATAM awards coming to Alaska’s website is good news, but that’s about it.

Beyond that, it’s hard to know just how bad these changes will be. We’re told to expect a “simplified award chart” and dynamic award pricing. A few thoughts on those points:

  • In the past, Alaska Airlines has promised to try to provide 90 days advance notice of any award chart devaluations, and these changes are happening in late December, which is… 90 days from now
  • Alaska Airlines sure has a funny way of communicating changes in advance; yes, the airline provides notice, but we’re not actually told what exactly is changing
  • Since Alaska Airlines joined oneworld, the airline has been promising a new unified partner award chart, though we’ve been made to believe that this would be in addition to individual partner award charts sticking around; it’s anyone’s guess if that’s still the plan, or if there will just be a single award chart
  • While Alaska Airlines suggests that award pricing will be more dynamic, in reality that’s already kind of the case, in the sense that nowadays Alaska has “standard” awards on many partners, for situations where there’s not saver level award availability (for example, transatlantic Aer Lingus business class awards can cost 60,000 to 280,000 miles one-way)
Alaska is changing partner award costs, but we don’t know how

There are some amazing uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles, especially for travel on airlines like Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, Japan Airlines, etc. What are my expectations of these changes?

  • I suspect these changes will be negative, but I don’t think they’ll be catastrophically bad
  • The important thing to keep in mind is that with partner award reimbursement rates being what they are, Alaska doesn’t have much of an incentive to greatly increase partner award costs, especially if it keeps members engaged in the program
  • Personally I expect the “dynamic” aspect of award pricing to come more in the form of different pricing for different distance awards within the same region; for example, maybe a New York to London award will be priced differently than a Los Angeles to London award

So yeah, I’m not really sure what to make of these changes. We know they’re coming, but we don’t know much more than that.

Hopefully the best awards aren’t devalued too much

Bottom line

Alaska Mileage Plan will be making partner award changes as of late 2022. We’ve been given roughly three months notice, but we’re not exactly sure what we’ve been given notice of.

On the plus side, Cathay Pacific and LATAM awards will be bookable online in the coming months, which is good news. We’re also told to expect a simplified award chart, and to expect more variability in partner award costs. How that actually plays out remains to be seen.

What do you make of these upcoming Alaska Mileage Plan changes?

Conversations (19)
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  1. Tom Cook Guest

    In Oct 2022 I tried to book a trip on American Airlines using my Alaska Air miles for a 2023 departure. AA had 40 scheduled flights going JAX-HNL on the day I wanted to travel but none of them were available to book with Alaska miles. If I selected an alternate date +/- a few days, I could only book the AA flights that arrived one day after departure. I tried to book another shorter...

    In Oct 2022 I tried to book a trip on American Airlines using my Alaska Air miles for a 2023 departure. AA had 40 scheduled flights going JAX-HNL on the day I wanted to travel but none of them were available to book with Alaska miles. If I selected an alternate date +/- a few days, I could only book the AA flights that arrived one day after departure. I tried to book another shorter domestic AA flight using my Alaska miles and found only the longest, most inconvenient AA flights could be booked with my Alaska miles. I feel totally screwed. In 2020 and 2021 my Alaska miles had a lot more value for booking AA flights. I live in Florida so I joined Alaska Air based on the ability to book on partner airline American.

  2. steve reinisch Guest

    I am trying to use my Alaska miles to book round trip first class or business flights to German via British Airways. I did so pre-COVID many times without problem. So far, first claim is available at all and the business class is always "mixed seating" which means the transcontinental flight is economy while the short London to Munich flight is business, but they demand full business class mileage to book even this.
    Question:...

    I am trying to use my Alaska miles to book round trip first class or business flights to German via British Airways. I did so pre-COVID many times without problem. So far, first claim is available at all and the business class is always "mixed seating" which means the transcontinental flight is economy while the short London to Munich flight is business, but they demand full business class mileage to book even this.
    Question: Is there a better time to try to book first or business class using Alaska miles with British. I plan to travel in May, 2023. Thank you.

  3. Allurant Medical SPA Guest

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  4. RockD Guest

    Maybe bad news. Still the best program around, especially for...Alaskans! 22.5K miles gets me to CDG, MXP, MAD or FRA, from ANC!
    The flight attendants are friendly and professional, and the miles earning opportunities...cc, sub, cell phone, and grocery store...make it easy.

  5. Sharon whitaker Guest

    I wish alaska airways would fly out of Vancouver bc canada, they lay over in seattle is a bit more than we would like.

  6. glenn t Diamond

    Given Alaska's recent track record for pricing partner awards outside OW, like SQ Business flights from Singapore to much of Europe (100,000 miles) and many others, I can't help but feel that very unfriendly news is on the way.
    When you need to check the cash price against a prospective award something is wrong, and you know that things are out of kilter and the program has lost its value.
    I expect that...

    Given Alaska's recent track record for pricing partner awards outside OW, like SQ Business flights from Singapore to much of Europe (100,000 miles) and many others, I can't help but feel that very unfriendly news is on the way.
    When you need to check the cash price against a prospective award something is wrong, and you know that things are out of kilter and the program has lost its value.
    I expect that LATAM will come on-line with less than tempting award value, and CX redemptions will not be the same phenominal value as the good ol' days on Alaska.

  7. DavidB Guest

    The new award pricing can't be any worse than the amount of miles required for AerLingus, Qantas or Finnair which are about twice what the same award "costs" using AA or even BA miles, not to mention Korean! I agree that Cathay, Fiji and JAL awards are great deals but the program currently lacks consistency. (BA is a whole other matter and can't get much worse when combining the airlines surcharges and the UK government's...

    The new award pricing can't be any worse than the amount of miles required for AerLingus, Qantas or Finnair which are about twice what the same award "costs" using AA or even BA miles, not to mention Korean! I agree that Cathay, Fiji and JAL awards are great deals but the program currently lacks consistency. (BA is a whole other matter and can't get much worse when combining the airlines surcharges and the UK government's exorbitant levies!)

    Being based in Canada, I've moved from AA (ExecPlat for years) to AS as my secondary OneWorld program (MVPGold tier) since AAdvantage is now a credit card based program and of course, AA has no ccs for non-Americans. I can always fall back on my primary OW program (just made BAGold through July '24) though only for non-BA flight awards. And have STARGold through AC lifetime status.

  8. Sam Guest

    It will be nice to book a LA flight online instead of calling & the agent learning how to book the carrier right then & there. But yeah... Hopefully it's not too bad.

  9. Linda Guest

    I agree with Janet. Why belong to Alaskas partnerships and miles program if they change more and significantly. We do not like the one world alliance already. We will wait and see bur less and less perks are available, maybe time to switch. We fly a lot!.

  10. Ella Guest

    There may well be some good news in here. Some of their partner pricing is ridiculously high right now - like on Aer Lingus. So maybe things will be evening out? Looking for a silver lining, but, honestly, I don’t see much future in CP with China’s policies starting to rule all of HK.

  11. Desperado New Member

    @lucky

    Got scoop yesterday at Alaska Lounge SFO. The original rooftop lounge @ SFO that Alaska was slated to move into will now be built out for United.

    United is going to take over most of T2 at SFO. That rooftop lounge will be spectacular.

    Alaska moved into the legacy AA lounge as a temporary spot — they will be relocating permanently to T1 by 2025. No idea what lounge plan is.

  12. Mary Guest

    "Expect more variability in partner award costs" = literally double speak for dynamic pricing which they have always claimed wouldnt happen. Sigh. So disillusioned.

  13. Leo Liang Guest

    Remember the SIN-TYO-CAN back then for 25K AS Miles along with free layovers

    1. Eskimo Guest

      You mean the well known loophole that was active for years until some bloggers published it and it killed it in a few days.

  14. Art_Czar Member

    Looking at the Mileage Plan Award Chart page, some partner pricing is stated in absolute values, while others are indicated as "Starting at"
    Is this a new development identifyingpartners with dynamic pricing? Or was this always the case?

  15. Corey Sacken Guest

    It's just a precursor to what will happen. Alaska miles will be worth barely anything more than AA miles in a year or two.

    AA valuation of 1.5 cents is a joke. Maybe 1.2

  16. VX_Flier Guest

    The whole point of switching to Alaska's Mileage Plan was that it still used a distance-based accrual, but the Partner Awards were outstanding compared to the US3. Since Alaska joined OneWorld, there have been no big perks for MP members but we've lost things gradually instead.
    If we lose the great partner awards (e.g. JAL is a good one), then what happens to the value of Alaska's miles? It was always considered more valuable BECAUSE of their excellent Partners.

  17. Jon Guest

    If it's clearly good news, they wouldn't have felt the need to tell us that.

    Bracing for impact...

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Mary Guest

"Expect more variability in partner award costs" = literally double speak for dynamic pricing which they have always claimed wouldnt happen. Sigh. So disillusioned.

1
VX_Flier Guest

The whole point of switching to Alaska's Mileage Plan was that it still used a distance-based accrual, but the Partner Awards were outstanding compared to the US3. Since Alaska joined OneWorld, there have been no big perks for MP members but we've lost things gradually instead. If we lose the great partner awards (e.g. JAL is a good one), then what happens to the value of Alaska's miles? It was always considered more valuable BECAUSE of their excellent Partners.

1
Jon Guest

If it's clearly good news, they wouldn't have felt the need to tell us that. Bracing for impact...

1
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