Alaska Mileage Plan Award Chart Devaluation

Hopefully the headline didn’t scare you too much, since this is the most minor award chart devaluation of the year… so far.

When I read the headline that Alaska was devaluing their award chart my first reaction was “gahhhh, there go my Cathay Pacific and Emirates first class redemptions.” As it turns out, there’s not really anything to worry about (yet).

Mileage Plan made some minor changes to their award chart only for travel on Alaska Airlines, which go into effect for tickets booked on or after January 14, 2014. As you can see below, these changes don’t impact the cost of saver coach awards, but rather only “refundable coach” (which come with last seat availability, preferred seating, and no change fees) and first class awards.

Here are the changes Alaska is making to their award chart for travel within the continental US & Canada:

Alaska-Mileage-Plan2

Here are the changes Alaska is making to their award chart for travel to/from Hawaii:

Alaska-Mileage-Plan1

And here are the changes Alaska is making to their award chart for travel to/from Mexico:

Alaska-Mileage-Plan3

These are, in the grand scheme of things, really minor changes. Awards are going up by 2,500-10,000 miles per direction, and in one case even going down by 2,500-5,000 miles per direction. The way to maximize your Alaska miles has never been for travel on Alaska, but rather for travel on their partner airlines.

Now the big question is whether this is it, or if they’ll announce another devaluation for travel on partner airlines. On one hand you’d think if they made major changes and devalued the MileagePlan program it would all be at once, but on the other hand maybe they’re trying to ease us into an award chart change by announcing this first and then announcing a bigger devaluation later — I certainly hope not! In fairness, though, they’ve made a lot of improvements to their award chart this year, including adding Emirates as a redemption partner and introducing one-way awards, and even allowing stopovers on those one-way awards.

Here’s to hoping partner redemptions (especially those on Cathay Pacific and Emirates) remain the same!

(Tip of the hat to Hack My Trip)

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. @ sam — Generally I’d say your best bet is booking a cheap flight to the Northeast (JetBlue usually has good fares) and then flying Cathay Pacific or Emirates from there. You can include Alaska Airlines on a partner award to a gateway, but that’s not especially convenient in most cases living in the Southeast.

  2. @ lucky – Have you heard anything about CX HKG-MLE? I can’t seem to find award (or even revenue fares) beyond March 29th.

  3. @ Chris K — Haven’t heard anything, and it is indeed odd. Loads seem to be low so far so I’m not sure if Cathay Pacific is second guessing the route or what, but surely they know it takes a while to build up a new route like this.

    If I see the schedule extended I’ll be sure to post.

  4. @ Lucky – could you tell me what is my best bet – in terms of which award miles to purchase – to travel r/t from Singapore – Tokyo – Orlando – LA – Singapore?

    P.S. If you need to charge for this advice, I’d be willing to pay, just let me know how much, I’m sure others would like to know your fee for such advice. :)

  5. @ Lucky – Thanks for your reply. My wife and I are planning to fly in the 1st cabin, if unavailable, business class then.

    Yes, we plan to have a stopover in Tokyo, Orlando & Los Angeles, we are prepared to pay more miles to do that if that’s what it takes.

  6. I am puzzled as to how Gene was able to book EK F one way ICN-DXB-LAX using Alaska miles- phone agent told me travel on EK has to originate from US if one way ? Did I misunderstand ?

  7. HI Lucky,

    Speaking of Alaska awards – would you recommend crediting any delta flights to Alaska at this point? Given the bleak situation with Delta and as a way to stockpile more Alaska points?

    Thanks!

  8. @ Curiosity — You typically can’t do that many stopovers on a single award, so on the outbound I’d probably use United miles for an award from Singapore to Tokyo, then miles for a separate award from Tokyo to the US.

    Then on the return for 67,500 American miles you could book Orlando to Los Angeles, have a stopover, and then Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Singapore in Cathay Pacific first class.

    Otherwise if you’re willing to do business class I’d book an AAdvantage distance based award:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2013/10/31/americans-distance-based-oneworld-explorer-awards/

  9. @ jane — The agent was misinformed. Alaska redemptions on Emirates have to start or end in the US, but you can absolutely book a one-way from somewhere else to the US.

  10. @ stacey — Assuming you don’t have status with Delta I would. I wouldn’t give up upgrades or anything, though, in order to credit to Alaska.

  11. @ Lucky – If I make just 1 stopover in Tokyo, which award miles should I purchase – to travel r/t from Singapore – Tokyo – Orlando – LA – Singapore?

  12. @ Curiosity — You don’t have any miles to begin with? In that case there aren’t really mileage sales right now that would make this worthwhile, unless you’ve been targeted for the US Airways 100% bonus promotion.

  13. @ Curiosity — Ah, forgot about that one. Yes, that would be a good option and you could do a stopover in Hong Kong. Won’t get you to Tokyo, however.

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