Northwest Raises Mileage Award Prices Dramatically

Northwest has announced changes to elite qualification for 2005 and changes to its award charts as well.

Business class flights from the U.S. to Europe are going from 80,000 to 100,000 miles roundtrip. Oddly, first class to Europe remains 100,000 miles roundtrip.

Flights to Asia in business class are going from 90,000 miles to 120,000 miles. First class is going from 120,000 miles to 160,000 miles.

Travel to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific (such as French Polynesia) is going from 80k/110k/140k for coach/business/first class all the way to 100k/150k/200k.

The above changes are huge devaluations of the Worldperks programs from my point of view. I just redeemed an American Airlines 145,000 mile first class award to French Polynesia and Australia using Air Tahiti Nui and Qantas. The same destinations on Northwest would cost more than a third more miles. Overnight an entire stash of Northwest miles is worth far less. Where are currency boards and a strong federal reserve when we need them?!

Mileage upgrade prices are going up, too. Currently an upgrade across the Pacific to Asia is 12,500 miles on a full fare ticket and 25,000 miles on an almost-full fare ticket. These prices are going to 15,000 miles and 30,000 miles respectively.

Even more dramatically, mileage upgrades to Europe are going from 10,000 miles and 20,000 miles to 15,000 miles and 30,000 miles.

Another change to note: Inter-island Hawaii flights are going up from 5,000 miles each way to 10,000 miles. This brings Northwest in line with other major carriers except United which continues to offer the 5,000 mile award.

The upshot is that Northwest has maintained, more or less, its elite qualification rules and benefits though it hasn’t improved them. They’ve gutted their award redemption. Since Northwest award availability isn’t great to begin with, they really aren’t a carrier where you should be accumulated reasonably large stashes of mileage.

Hat tip to Steve Levin.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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