I love Alaska Airlines and the Mileage Plan program, but I love it a lot less this morning. While they don’t have plans to go revenue-based and most of their awards remain reasonable, they have gutted their award chart for travel on their partner Emirates and they have done it without notice. And devaluations without notice are the single worst thing a loyalty program can do.
Emirates has been my favorite Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan redemption. They fly to a number of US cities and have a fantastic first class product especially onboard their Airbus A380 which has showers.
These awards are mostly going to be out of reach now for Mileage Plan members.
Mideast and India awards have gone up to 82,500 in business each way and 150,000 in first. Africa has gone up to 150,000 miles in business class and 200,000 in first each way. An Africa roundtrip in first class is 400,000 miles per person, and that’s for a saver award.
Asia awards via Dubai are now 105,000 miles each way in business class and 180,000 in first. Just two months ago I flew Houston – Dubai – Bangkok for 100,000 in first. This is an 80% increase overnight for that award.
The interesting thing is that US-Europe awards on Emirates haven’t been gutted. And those connect in the Middle East. You’re allowed a stopover on a one-way award. So it’s far cheaper to book US – Dubai (stopover) – Europe and throw away the Dubai – Europe segment than it is to book US – Dubai one way.
Emirates itself is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. Their awards get expensive as you go up in cabin and distances become greater, and there are fuel surcharges. It’s not super practical for long haul first class travel. Qantas is a Citi transfer partner and offers good awards for New York JFK – Milan with fuel surcharges, but gets super pricey for long haul. Korean Air awards on Emirates are pricey.
In general the best awards for Emirates travel will be via Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, a oneworld frequent flyer program that’s a Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partner. They have a distance-based award chart.
Trips between 14,001 and 20,000 miles cost 100,000 miles for business class and 155,000 miles for first class.
New York JFK – Dubai – Bangkok roundtrip is just shy of 20,000 miles.
My Starwood points became relatively even more valuable to me, for their ability to transfer to JAL, with this change to Mileage Plan.
(HT: Zohalb J.)
Update: 7:56 a.m. Eastern: it appears that North America-Europe awards have been devalued too, even though that change was not reflected on Alaska’s award charts. At some level that’s even worse, if there could even be such a thing.