Alaska Airlines Fixes Their Award Chart After Lack of Trust Meant a Major Scare

This morning I wrote that Alaska Airlines award charts were showing higher prices for Cathay Pacific awards intra-Asia — with business class up over 120% and first class up over 150%.

Intra-Asia awards appeared to be the same price as US-Asia awards. As I wrote, when readers first reported this several days ago I assumed it “was a mistake related to Alaska updating the way they displayed award charts.” Indeed, one-way premium economy awards at 15,000 one way and 70,000 roundtrip made no sense. However Alaska was confirming the new pricing as correct.

Once Alaska’s phone lines opened for the day I confirmed that old pricing was still in effect.

After the coverage the Alaska Airlines twitter team committed to getting their published award charts fixed. Indeed, within a couple of hours the old chart pricing was back in place on the Alaska Airlines website.

The lesson though in all of this is an important one. The increases — over 150% for first class awards — were believable because of the trust that Alaska Airlines burned through last month. They made major changes to their award chart last month, as much as doubling Emirates awards overnight. And they said in the future they’d give 30 days’ notice (which is, itself, pathetic) except when they couldn’t.

Since it’s precisely what they did a month ago, and they said they’d only ‘try’ not to do it again, it was thinkable that this could have been something other than a mistake — the airline at first confirming that it wasn’t a mistake notwithstanding.

Trust matters. It’s much easier to lose than it is to rebuild.

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. Pleasantly surprised by your tight post. This post could have spiraled out of control with links to every award change in the history of airlines.

  2. I had a friend that worked at UA WHQ in Chicago. They’d announce changes, then would make adjustments Monday morning, based on Flyertalk feedback.

    Methinks Alaska is ‘playing’ with us. Stay tuned.

  3. Not only that but when you ” go out in the future” there is a huge lack of BA, AA awards to Africa and Europe, never seen it this bad. Plenty of EK coach which we all know is a third world trip but it is interesting

  4. Hey johnny33, please do elaborate on that comment.

    Oh yeah, I must have forgotten, Gary likes to sit in EK F on the way to MLE (or wait is that Ben??) and he is a travel blogger. And everyone knows, of course, that those darn travel bloggers fundamentally determine how an airline prices its award redemptions, since they are so crucial in determining the business model and steering the day to day financial fundamentals of loyalty programs.

    Gary, it’s your fault again. Stop leading the sheeple to water and wrecking it for johnny33 and everyone else!

  5. I think the whole concept of fundamentally “trusting” airlines is laughable. I trust AS (and every other airline out there) the same as I trust my gas station, grocery store, etc.

  6. As an Alaska MVP75 my thinking now is use all my miles to book my favorite awards on Cathay to hedge against any sudden devaluation. Roll them forward by redepositing them and booking again as time goes on. The games we play when we lose trust.

  7. Actually, there are two lessons to be drawn here. One by AS and the trust deficit. The second by certain bloggers *ahem* rushing to grab eyeballs with headlines before actually doing any form of due diligence. Just saying.

  8. I thought we could trust Alaska. Too bad. My husband and I were going to sign up for Alaska with Bank of America. Now, we can not even trust Alaska!
    I can not trust an airline where they devalue their mileage program without notice and they increase the mileage requirement drastically. I understand if it is %10 percent or %20 percent, But why %100 or %150??? Do you go to the grocery store and buy a carton of milk for $2.99 and the next day goes up to $10? Their program is so ridiculous now and not even worth talking about!

  9. @David – where I’m from, the price of gas at a particular station can increase 50% overnight for sure. There’s no point in me whining about it, I either deal with it or take my business elsewhere.

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