Alaska Airlines is praised for its customer-friendly policies and lack of nickel and diming. But that unique position continues to erode.
Starting on June 05, 2018, Alaska Airlines will make three major fee changes.
1. 24-hour free change/cancellation policy restricted
- The 24-hour free cancellation policy will now only apply to tickets booked for travel starting 24 hours or more from the time of purchase.
- If travel begins within 24 hours of buying your non-refundable ticket, standard change/cancellation fees will apply immediately.
For example, if you book 25 hours in advance, you still have 24 hours to cancel. If you book 23 hours in advance, you cannot cancel a non-refundable ticket.
This policy change is not unreasonable, but puts Alaska at a competitive disadvantage over Delta, Southwest, and United. Meanwhile, American and JetBlue already have stricter cancelation policies.
2. Change and cancellation fee raised
- If you change or cancel your ticket more than 60 days before departure, that change/cancellation will now be subject to a fee of $125.
Previously, Alaska had a very generous cancellation policy that allowed even restricted tickets to be refunded as long as travel was more than 60 days away. While the new fee of $125 is still lower than Alaska’s legacy competitors, Alaska has eliminated one of its most customer-friendly policies.
3. Same-day confirmed change fee raised
Same-day confirmed changes are doubling in price from $25 to $50. The change fee will now also apply to discounted first class tickets, where were previously exempted. There are a few exceptions:
- For travel entirely within the state of California, the same day confirmed change fee will remain $25.
- For travel on our shuttle flights between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Spokane and Seattle, or Portland and Seattle, the same day confirmed change fee will remain $25.
- Refundable purchased or award travel (booked in F, D, Y, or Z class of service) will have no same day confirmed change fee.
- MVP Gold and Gold 75K Mileage Plan members will continue to have their same day confirmed change fee waived.
One positive: changes will now be permitted for any flight on the same calendar day, rather than simply within a six-hour window fo the original departure.
Dare we predict the next frontier? Dollar-based earnings?
Here’s the earning chart now for Alaska flights. Let’s see how long this lasts…
|Cabin||Classes of service||Base mileage earned||Bonus Miles|
|First Class||F or P||100%||75%|
|Main (Economy)||Y or S||100%||50%|
|Main (Economy)||M or B||100%||25%|
|Main (Economy)||H, Q, L, V, K, G, T, or R||100%||–|
Alaska Airlines has also announced Basic Economy is coming and now penalizes you for no-shows (your ticket becomes valueless).
On the one hand, I understand why Alaska determined it need not offer something its competition also did not. On the other hand, Alaska lacks many elements (such as lie-flat seating on transcontinental flights) that its competition offers. My warning to Alaska: be careful what you cut.