No, this has nothing to do with Alaska taking over Virgin America. 😉
A bit over a week ago I posted about how Alaska Mileage Plan drastically devalued Emirates first class redemptions without any notice. They increased the cost of many first class awards by 100%. It goes without saying that this was extremely disappointing to many members, given how many people had been collecting Alaska miles with the intention of redeeming them for Emirates first class.
Adding insult to injury, Alaska passive aggressively blamed Mileage Plan members for the devaluation, and then later changed their story as to which subset of members they were blaming.
While award chart devaluations are inevitable, there’s generally an expectation that we’ll get some advance notice of changes. After all, loyalty programs are intended to generate loyalty and goodwill, and devaluing miles without notice accomplishes exactly the opposite. The good thing is that even though Alaska didn’t fully take responsibility for the devaluation, I’m confident they’ll provide notice of future changes, given the backlash they got from members with these changes.
What has surprised me is that over the past week I’ve received a countless number of comments and emails from readers along the lines of “what am I supposed to do with my worthless Alaska miles?”
I’ve long said that I consider Alaska Mileage Plan miles to be among the most valuable out there, and that wasn’t simply because of the ability to redeem Alaska miles for Emirates first class.
Alaska miles are still extremely valuable.
I’ve written in the past about some of the really awesome features of Mileage Plan award redemptions, like:
- The ability to do a stopover even on a one-way award, which makes Mileage Plan one of the few programs where that’s possible
- The very reasonable change and cancelation fees (you can cancel and change an award for free up until 60 days before departure, and after that it’s just $125 per person)
- A truly unique array of airline partners, ranging from SkyTeam airlines to oneworld airlines to several independent airlines
I’ve also written in the past about six great uses of Alaska miles, and only one of those involved Emirates first class. As a reminder, here are Alaska’s award charts, which are region based, as a refresher of just how great some of the values are:
|Intra-State||Continental U.S. and Canada||Hawaii|
|Mexico||Caribbean||Central and South America|
|Europe||Africa – Middle East – India||Australia – NZ – South Pacific|
I’m not going to rehash the whole program here, though I figured I’d post a reminder of just how good some of the one-way award values are (and keep in mind that in all cases you’re allowed a stopover on a one-way award):
- Cathay Pacific first class from the US to Asia for 70,000 miles
- Cathay Pacific business class from the US to Australia for 60,000 miles
- LAN business class from the US to South America for 45,000 miles
- Hainan business class from the US to Asia for 50,000 miles
- Fiji Airways business class from the US to Australia/New Zealand for 55,000 miles
- Icelandair business class from the US to Europe for 55,000 miles
- Korean Air business class from the US to Southeast Asia for 60,000 miles
I’m as pissed as the next person about Alaska devaluing Emirates first class redemptions overnight. Heck, I’m probably significantly more pissed than the average person, given how much I’ve enjoyed redeeming for Emirates first class.
This doesn’t change the fact that Alaska continues to offer some incredible redemption opportunities, including the best redemption rates in Cathay Pacific first class, as well as fantastic business class redemption rates on many airlines (which is where most of the good award values are nowadays). You also can’t undersell how awesome it is to do a stopover on a one way award.
On a value per mile basis, I’d still consider Mileage Plan miles to be the single most valuable mileage currency issued by a US airline.
Which redemptions using Alaska miles are you most excited about going forward?