Overnight, Alaska made two substantial changes to its MileagePlan program, resulting in many partner awards pricing significantly higher today than yesterday. I’ll say it bluntly: Alaska Airlines violated our trust once again and should be ashamed of itself.
As always with Alaska Airlines, the sin is not the devaluation itself, but the failure to provide any notice before implementing it.
Devaluation #1: No More Stopovers on Intra-Asia Awards
Stopovers on awards within Asia are no longer permitted on a complimentary basis. This marks the end of one of the greatest values of Alaska miles.
Devaluation #2: Mainland China Re-Classified From Southeast Asia to North Asia
Mainland China was classified as part of Southeast Asia on the Singapore Airlines award chart. Now it is grouped with Korea and Japan in North Asia. In a move sure to make Beijing smile, Hong Kong remains in South Asia.
So let’s put these together. Yesterday, you could fly from Beijing to Singapore on Singapore Airlines in first class, stay as long as you wanted in Singapore, then return to Hong Kong in Singapore Airlines first class. The cost would be 35K miles, the price of a one-way ticket within the Southeast Asia region.
Now that Mainland China has been re-classified as North Asia and stopovers are no longer permitted, you are looking at 75,000 for the outbound and 35,000 miles for the return! Yes, a trip that cost 35K miles yesterday will now cost 110K miles!
That’s almost as bad as the overnight Emirates devaluation of 2016.
Did The Bloggers Ruin This?
All of the serious points/miles bloggers, myself included, blogged about the introduction of Singapore Airlines as a redemption option on Alaska Airlines. Are we responsible for this sudden change?
I’d strongly push back on such a narrative. It’s too simplistic. First, let’s give Alaska some credit for knowing what it is doing…you really think they had no clue their system was allowing stopovers on one-way awards? Second, we’ve had stopovers on intra-Asia awards for years. Their sudden demise was hastened by the addition of Singapore Airlines, but the idea of intra-region stopovers is nothing new and was widely publicized. I do think bloggers pointed out the sweet spots…and that sweet spots always have a limited shelf life. But there were bigger forces at work.
> Read More: Singapore Award Space Blocking On Alaska Airlines
Gilbert Ott of God Save the Points points to the true problem:
[T]his is yet another gut punch, not necessarily because it’s happening, but because it’s been done without any warning, under the cover of darkness. That’s just not ok…
responded, “I’ll say I don’t think these changes are as bad as Gib suggests.”of Travel Codex
I disagree and hope that someone will gently correct me when I start sounding like a United shill. Rather, I think Gib captures precisely the problem with today’s Alaska MileagePlan devaluation.
Alaska just concluded a huge sale on purchased miles. Many took advantage because they expected to make strategic Asian redemptions on Singapore Airlines. Now awards that cost 35K miles cost 110K miles. This represents a bait and switch…and cannot be be dismissed as a small correction to a “bug” that was exploited.
The changes are reasonable…sweet spots are only sweet spots because of their comparative value vis-a-vis other loyalty programs. But not giving us any notice really strikes me as unethical, especially when Alaska promised future notice after the no-notice Emirates devaluation in 2016.
This means that award prices on Cathay Pacific and JAL, both overdue for a devaluation, are not safe.
Then again, maybe Alaska will backtrack slightly as it did when it banned Asian redemptions within 72-hours of travel, then reversed itself a day later.
But I’m not holding my breath…
> Read More: Latest Alaska Devaluation Was Bizarre Overreaction
> Read More: Let’s Give Alaska Airlines Credit for Listening