Last year, Alaska Airlines massively devalued Emirates award redemptions without notice. While the latest cut is not as draconian, it still represents a fundamental problem with Alaska: the airline cannot be trusted to give advance notice of program changes.
In response to protest last year over its no-notice Emirates devaluation, Alaska stated–
Given the dynamics of this particular award, we were unable to announce changes in advance.
This approach doesn’t represent a new normal. Our policy is to communicate significant program changes with at least 30 days’ notice when at all possible.
But less than a year later, Alaska does not consistently provide notice when making important program changes.
No More JAL Premium Economy Awards with Alaska Airlines
Late in 2016, Alaska introduced JAL as an award partner. The award chart was extremely attractive–
While business and first class are a tremendous value, if you are not working with more points you needed only 5,000 more each way to get Premium Economy, a far superior experience to regular economy on JAL. Upgrades at the gate from economy to premium economy normally run $300, so you can do the numbers: those 5,000 extra points really went far.
As Points with a Crew and One Mile at a Time point out, Alaska has now removed Premium Economy from its award chart. Other prices have not changed, but the ability to book into Premium Economy is no longer a listed option–
There were reports of technical problems in booking JAL Premium Economy. Perhaps this is just a temporary shutoff. But problems with Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and Fiji Airways award space have lingered for years. Alaska seems in no rush to fix technical problems that benefit it by reducing pricey partner redemptions.
I am disappointed that Alaska has made another change without notice. While it certainly has the prerogative to do what it wants, I view loyalty programs as a compact between airline and customer that should be respected. We can quibble over whether this constitutes a “major” change or not, but the elimination of a whole class of award without notice is not a classy move.