Alaska Airlines Devalues Without Notice Again, Doubling Intra-Asia Cathay Pacific Awards

Update: Despite confirmation of this change from Alaska Airlines, this appears to be an error in the award chart rather than a change in pricing. Alaska Airlines agents are still pricing awards at the old rates.

A little over a month ago Alaska Airlines made no-notice changes to their Emirates award charts for business and first class travel, raising prices by as much as 100%.

Overnight the price of business class and first class awards went up — a lot. A first class roundtrip between the US and Africa on Emirates went from 200,000 to 400,000 miles.

Changes without notice are the worst thing a loyalty program can do. They promise future benefits in exchange for business now. You spend years, even, working towards an award. Any reputable program wants to retain the trust of its members, so gives significant advance notice when making changes that hurt its members or reduce the value of its points.

Alaska Airlines sought to reassure members, that this incident aside, they’d provide advance notice of changes in the future. Except, it seems, that they made no-notice changes again.

Readers noticed this week in the thread about Alaska Airlines bonus for selling miles that Cathay Pacific intra-Asia awards had been devalued without notice.

Here’s the intra-Asia award chart for travel on Cathay:

Business class was 22,500 miles one-way and 45,000 miles roundtrip for this award, and first class was 27,500 miles one-way and 55,000 miles roundtrip. First class awards are up 155%! Business has more than doubled.

Now, without notice, the award chart is showing the same price for intra-Asia awards as it is for awards between North America and Asia!

My first guess was that this was a mistake related to Alaska updating the way they displayed award charts. However, Alaska’s twitter team confirms it’s accurate:

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has some ‘splaining to do if it’s devaluing without notice again just after telling members we should trust them because they wouldn’t do this … mere weeks ago.

As I wrote when Alaska’s 50% bonus on purchase miles came out,

I’m not in favor of hoarding miles at these prices. Or hoarding Alaska miles at all. Especially now that we know their policy is to give only 30 days’ notice of changes, and even then only sometimes. That simply makes them not trustworthy in my view.

Cathay Pacific Business Clas Just Got More Expensive Intra-Asia

(HT: Jason H.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. A FT poster says he called and was quoted the old rates, making it seem like it is indeed a problem with the chart displayed on their site. Maybe the agent was looking at that too. Try to call and book something and see what they quote you.

  2. They seem to be making a habit of doing it a little while after launching a huge sale on buying miles. Very poor form Alaska – we don’t trust you at all now.


  3. It’s hard to think that Alaska has made a publishing snafu given their recent form. If it is for real then their credibility is shot to bits. Such massive increases would be inexplicable. Comment from senior management is required pronto!

  4. Their Twitter team is s bunch of dolts. They just parrot back what’s on the website.

    They made a mistake a couple weeks ago that BA I class was left off the chart, and Twitter and CS were parroting back that BA I earned no miles. Once they realized the error and fixed it, they were able to parrot back the correct information. There are other errors too, like a restriction on the Qantas page that says QF flights must be ticketed on AeroMexico stock to get credit.

    This increase is unfortunate if it’s true, but given the number of errors they’ve been making lately, I wouldn’t be sure yet.

  5. My new post an hour ago, and updated top of this post, indicate that it’s a website error that they then confirmed as accurate.

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