Alaska Airlines has angered thousands of frequent flyers with sudden changes to its mileage program. The general reaction to this move is fury, considering Alaska had one of most lucrative miles programs in the country.
The one way they are different from, say, American, Delta, and United, is that passengers still have a way to earn miles based on the distance flown. That alone is worth its weight in gold. Let us put that in perspective: one business class roundtrip on Hainan Airlines between LA and China would get you silver status, easy as that. Domestic travelers on the other hand would have to fly for months before getting anywhere as close. Additionally, with Alaska Airlines being apart from the three major alliances, redemption too has many possibilities, owing to the wide range of partners across multiple alliances.
They have made a change to Mileage Plan (that is the name of their program) which blocks the loophole, which allows booking inexpensive first class tickets on Emirates, which is a partner. Emirates charges fewer miles than American, while being known to have some of the best first class seats in the world. The change Alaska has made, is a hike in cost of premium awards, by 67% to 100%. Trans-Atlantic first class tickets on Emirates now cost a lot more than they used to.
Alaska says they had to do this because customers were aggressively exploiting the loophole, and normalizing the trend among the travel hacking community. Plenty of miles gurus have been lauded publicly for saving up enough Alaska miles for a round-the-globe trip on Emirates. This is not the flyers’ fault entirely, because Alaska did price their routes too high. Emirates bookings shot up to a point that they had to change the program to divert them. It was that, or risk a run on award bookings prior to a scheduled change. So they changed the cost of first class award seats.
It is the timing that is grating at bloggers and passengers, with many frequent flyers pointing out that some advance notice would have been appreciated. If you have a sizeable mileage balance that is not worth as much, you have YYZ Miles to turn to. We can help find a fair deal to sell miles and reward points online. Sign up with us and provide details like what points or miles you have, and an email address to get back to you on.