Alaska Airlines Kills Our Revenue-Based “Plan B”

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is fantastic because of its diverse partnerships. They are partners with many of the airlines both in the SkyTeam and oneworld alliances (and even some airlines like Emirates and Hainan Airlines that are in neither).

In the U.S. that means they’re partners with both American Airlines and with Delta, although with Delta they’re frenemies at best given the efforts Delta has made at building its own hub in Alaska’s home base of Seattle.

It used to be that the infrequent traveler could pool their American and Delta flights into a single account with Alaska. That would mean earning awards faster. And in the case of American, where miles expire after 18 months of inactivity, a greater chance of keeping miles active (because of more earning opportunities from flying Delta, and because Alaska miles only expire after 24 months).

Similarly there have always been a few who hoped that as an airline went revenue-based in its frequent flyer program, crediting miles to Alaska — which has indicated that it isn’t going revenue-based any time soon — would be a way to continue to earn full miles flown for paid flights (the way that nearly all United fares earn 100% of flown miles in the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program).

But about 5 weeks before Delta’s program went revenue-based, mileage-earning for Delta flights credited to Alaska was reduced.

So it was certainly expected, and no surprise, that about five weeks before American’s program starts awarding miles for American flights based on the cost of a ticket for travel beginning August 1, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan earning for American flights is being reduced as well. (HT: Single Flyer)

The miles you earn crediting an American flight to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan now is really simple. You earn 1 mile per mile flown, plus bonus miles for paid business and first class tickets.

For flights taken August 1 and beyond earning on most fares will be lower, a percentage of the miles flown:

The interesting thing, though, is that it isn’t just full fare tickets continuing to earn full mileage based on distance.

  • On super long flights, mid-priced and even cheap tickets may still do better with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan than with AAdvantage.

  • They’re increasing the bonuses for paid business and first class tickets compared to the current chart.

It’s going to be advisable going forward — especially for people without AAdvantage elite status — to compare the miles earned crediting to the AAdvantage program versus crediting to Alaska (and also what those miles get you, because devaluation of Alaska’s Emirates awards notwithstanding, I valued an Alaska mile more than an American mile even before American increased the prices of many awards March 22.

It’s also worth noting that Alaska Airlines codeshares on American Airlines flights will continue to earn miles based on Alaska’s own accrual system so if you buy an Alaska Airlines codeshare for travel on American you’ll still earn at least 1 mile per mile flown no matter how cheap the ticket.

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. The chart you posted for flights effective 01 August is WRONG. There is no “P” class listed!

    Fortunately, several reached out to AS and the chart has been corrected to reflect “P” class earns at 150%…

  2. Thanks, I was wanting to know how to look at things after Aug. 1 and now I know it is just not a gimma to credit toward Alaska as planned. My main trip is to HKG and I go about 12X a year for part work and part fun. So a trip that was 16K from IAH I only see it earning about 8k or 9K on my eco coach trips. Any suggestions I am all ears. Thanks

  3. @gary
    gary, does singapore match statueses and also do they have requirements to fly a minimum amount of flights on their planes?

  4. The email response from DisAAdvantage to my saying goodbye over this after 40 years of monthly flying is a long defensive stretched out dissertation complete with charts, illustrating to me how conflicted they still appear to be – and reinforcing why Suzanne Rubin left the greedy sinking ship Aadvantage before it rightfully sinks along with millions of legacy travelers they wanted to poke in the eye because we aren’t rich enough

    Did they happen to notice half of their fleet is in disrepair or still has the entertainment, a/c charging, and even music systems ripped out after the last greedhog binge by Douglas Porker? For aging DisAadvantage refugees why would easily changing to JetBlue’s 34″ seat pitch and gaining many more nonstop choices (I avoided to get AA miles) not be an obvious choice. Does AA delude themselves by thinking they have some superior product we aren’t actually seeing?

    Goodbye, AA! Hello old friends Alaska and JetBlue. And IF Alaska can fight for our right to keep full miles as much as possible in the face of the greedhogs, you’ll earn mine and many others’s exclusive loyalty.

    Thank you Gary for having this blog to fight for us, speaking truth to power in spite of bathing in their credit card moola. Now if only commoners could start collecting miles more maybe we could have our own little revolution. AA is going to have to bid my miles up to ever get me back.

  5. No sooner do I post that than United’s first bid (bribe) arrives in my box. Apparently they did notice I haven’t flown with them in at least a year so they’re offering me a year’s free subscription to domestic Economy Plus. Now this is tempting for my trans-cons and will tempt me to accept the puny miles they now offer. Are they starting to notice missing passengers who quit them?

  6. Yes. Never had any status but flew them for 40 years before deval. Also wrote them strong letters about how I’d walk if they deval’d. Now I get free subscription which is a bribe I’ll take.

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