Alaska Airlines News Oneworld

Good news: Alaska Mileage Plan retains current award pricing

Alaska Mileage Plan's simplified award chart has been published, but good news - existing award sweet spots are still in place.

Back in September this year we reported on how the popular Alaska Mileage Plan programme had announced changes to its award chart from December 2022, with a switch to a “simplified” region-based version for all award redemptions using Alaska Miles.

ADVERTISEMENT

It certainly had the hallmarks of a devaluation, with the airline suggesting partner award levels “may vary depending on multiple factors” (a hint at dynamic pricing?), but that “you’ll continue to be able to enjoy great value for your miles” (in their opinion!).

Good news – nothing has changed

Alaska has now revealed its new simplified award chart, and rather than the former complex system of selecting your origin and destination region, then being presented with a list of award rates by partner airline for that zone combination, the carrier has now adopted a (very) simplified and much less transparent presentation.

The international chart only shows “pricing from” award rates for flights to and from the North America Zone, which is horribly unhelpful and opaque compared to before, especially since many of our readers are redeeming Alaska Miles for itineraries that don’t touch the North America zone at all.

It also doesn’t say which partner you will need t book with to access that lowest redemption rate.

ADVERTISEMENT

The good news is the ‘sweet spots’ most of our readers enjoy using Alaska Miles are still pricing at their current rates, though it must be said the new chart structure does make it easier for Alaska to increase those rates any time they like.

The full list of simplified Alaska Mileage Plan award charts are available here.

Here’s a reminder of some of the ‘sweet spots’ we get good value from, when redeeming Alaska Miles.

Alaska Mileage Plan ‘sweet spots’

‘Sweet Spot’ AStrans
Singapore to New York
Business Class
65,000
miles
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
25,000
miles
Singapore to Los Angeles
First Class
70,000
miles
Singapore to Los Angeles
Business Class
50,000
miles
Sydney to New York
First Class
80,000
miles
Sydney to New York
Business Class
60,000
miles
Hong Kong to London
Business Class
42,500
miles
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
22,500
miles
Sydney to New York
First Class
80,000
miles
Sydney to Dallas
First Class
70,000
miles
Sydney to Dallas
Business Class
55,000
miles
Perth to Sydney
Business Class
20,000
miles
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Korean_Air_Small.png Singapore to Chicago
(return)
Business Class
120,000
miles
(return)

Here are some of the award searches we made, showing the existing rates are happily still in force.

Singapore to San Francisco (Business)
Cathay Pacific 50,000 miles

Hong Kong to London (Business)
Cathay Pacific 42,500 miles

Singapore to Chicago to Singapore (Business)
Korean Air 120,000 miles
(60,000 miles each way)

Singapore to Tokyo (Business)
JAL 25,000 miles

Perth to Sydney (Business)
Qantas 20,000 miles

Korean Air flights in Business Class between Asia and the USA are one of the ‘sweet spots’ using Alaska Miles, provided it’s a return trip you need. (Photo: Thiago B Trevisan / Shutterstock)

There should be 90 days notice of any devaluation

Even with the lack of transparency in the new award chart, Alaska Airlines always promised to give us 90 days notice of any change to existing partner award rates.

“We will strive to give at least 90 days’ notice if changes are coming to any current partner awards”

Alaska Airlines

This came about after some embarrassment and negative publicity, when Alaska imposed a significant no-notice devaluation on Emirates awards back in 2016.

The 90 day promise should allow you three months to redeem at existing rates, even if the pricing for a particular partner (e.g. Cathay Pacific) does get hiked in future.

Singapore to USA redemptions for 50,000 Alaska Miles in Business Class should still be bookable up to a year in advance for a 90-day window, even if a future devaluation happens. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

That would mean the ability to continue to make the current (good value) redemption bookings for flights close to a year in advance, softening the blow of any potential future devaluation.

India – USA awards are devalued (in the chart)

Not all routes appear to have got away unscathed from devaluation in the new simplified award chart.

As spotted by View from the Wing, the India – USA award rate of 60,000 miles in Business Class one-way on JAL now shows in the chart at 65,000 miles, while First Class on the same route has gone from 70,000 miles to 80,000 miles.

However, the actual awards themselves when searched online still price at the old rates.

It remains to be seen whether this is a typo in the award chart, or whether the new increased rate will eventually be loaded when booking these itineraries, so we’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

Reminder: Cathay Pacific awards are now online

In more good news for the Alaska Mileage Plan programme, Cathay Pacific award flights became searchable and bookable online back in October, a significant improvement on the previous system where you would have to use other sites to check for award availability, then call up Mileage Plan to book over the phone.

Cathay Pacific award space from Singapore to Hong Kong

This is all the more relevant as Hong Kong completely opens up to overseas travellers, and Cathay Pacific gradually ramps up its services back towards pre-COVID levels, with 75% of its normal schedules set to be restored by the end of 2023.

ADVERTISEMENT