While I personally like to redeem my miles for premium cabin flights whenever possible, there’s no denying that more ways to redeem your miles is always a good thing, especially if nothing is being taken away. After all, most people don’t redeem their miles for international premium cabin travel, and that’s a good thing, because it leaves more space for the rest of us.
Alaska’s Mileage Plan miles are one of the most valuable mileage currencies out there, thanks to their excellent redemption rates for travel on their partner airlines, as well as the ability to book a stopover on a one-way award.
“Redeeming miles for hotels was among the most requested enhancements to Mileage Plan, and our members now have the ability to redeem valuable Alaska miles for both flights and hotels,” said Ryan Butz, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of loyalty. “This is particularly exciting for our Alaska Airlines credit cardholders, who will have access to discounted award pricing through Mileage Plan Hotels. Our Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® cardholders not only earn Alaska miles on everyday purchases and save with our companion fare offer and free checked bags, but now have another way to use those miles. It’s now the only credit card Alaska flyers need.”
Alaska is using Rocketmiles for their back-end technology here. For those of you not familiar, Rocketmiles is a website that lets you earn miles for hotel stays. The catch is that you earn those points in lieu of hotel points, since the stay no longer counts as “qualifying” for those purposes.
With Alaska’s new white label Rocketmiles site you can earn miles for hotel stays at the same rate you usually would through Rocketmiles. Then based on the cost of a hotel in cash you can also redeem miles.
So, how much value is Alaska Airlines giving you per Mileage Plan mile? Let’s use the St. Regis San Francisco as an example. For a random date I chose in July, the paid rate is $446 before tax.
With all taxes and fees it’s $510.69. You could also earn 4,000 Alaska miles if you booked through Rocketmiles, though personally I’d rather earn Starpoints (if you book through Rocketmiles you don’t earn hotel points). Regardless, when doing the math here we have to factor in the points you’re forgoing.
That one night stay would cost you 83,700 Alaska miles. OMG. That’s about 0.6 cents per Alaska Mileage Plan mile.
But there’s some great news. If you have the Alaska Airlines Credit Card they’ll sweeten the deal for you, and discount the number of miles needed by about 10%. So that stay now costs 75,400 Alaska miles, which is ~0.67 cents per Alaska mile. That’s not even factoring in the 4,000 miles you’re forgoing by not booking a paid stay.
This is a spectacularly bad value. Like, not just a moderately bad value, but an awful value. I can appreciate that redeeming miles for hotels was perhaps the most requested Mileage Plan “enhancement” from members, but hopefully not at this rate. Alaska’s MD of loyalty got it right — Mileage Plan miles are “valuable,” and this doesn’t do justice to them.
The sad thing is that people will probably still redeem at these rates…