As Alaska Airlines has added new partners, they’ve been introducing new, more expensive award pricing. There’s a lot of misunderstanding, suggesting that Alaska Airlines miles have become less valuable but that isn’t really the case. Pre-existing partners have largely kept their low award pricing. It’s only been new options that have been more expensive. And where they’ve introduced multiple tiers of partner pricing, they’ve generally kept pre-existing low pricing for saver awards on their partners while charging more for extra availability.
However all of this has presaged future devaluation. Each new partner contract has come with higher prices, and that’s been highly suggestive that as existing contracts come up for renewal those will entail higher prices to members as well. We’ve been waiting for the shoe to drop on Mileage Plan devaluation.
So news out of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan that they will be revamping their award charts before the end of the year is certainly not welcome – especially because the airline is providing little detail despite explicitly committing to 90 days’ notice before any changes.
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.
The ambiguous nature of this announcement is what is concerning. Alaska already offers a ‘simple’ chart “based on which regions you’re traveling from and to.” When programs ‘simplify’ that’s more often than not code for ‘devalue.’
There is a small bit of good news in the Alaska announcement that:
- Cathay Pacific awards in October
- LATAM awards will become bookable online before end of year
Cathay Pacific is bringing planes back out of storage. Hopefully the tremendous value Alaska offers on Cathay will remain. What’s exceptional – beyond just basic pricing between the U.S. and Asia – is that the increment to connect onward to other regions is quite small. For instance business class to Australia via Hong Kong is currently just 60,000 miles each way, and Africa just 62,500 miles.
(HT: Mainly Miles)