Alaska Airlines fumbles launch of Starlux awards


Starlux is a Taiwan-based airline that was founded in 2018 and began operations in 2020, a tricky time to start a new travel company, to say the least. Despite the poor timing, it has garnered quite positive reviews for both its hard and soft product. This year, Starlux launched its first long-haul route, flying an A350 nonstop between Taipei and LA. It also announced a partnership with Alaska airlines.

At that point, Alaska said that Mileage Plan members would be able to redeem their miles on Starlux by the middle of the summer and that there would be an initial promotional rate of 60K in business and 20K in economy…a great price for an excellent way to get to East/Southest Asia. The downside was that there was no mention of what the post-promotional pricing would be.

On Wednesday, Alaska announced that it was now possible to book Starlux awards online and that the promotional pricing would be available for bookings through August 31st. Looks like they overestimated that timeframe by about 95%, as there are no more 60K business tickets available for the entire schedule, only slightly more than 24 hours after the launch.

a row of seats in a plane
Starlux A-350 business class (Image courtesy of Starlux)

An Inauspicious Launch

There’s a lot to be said for Alaska Mileage Plan, but it’s been a frustrating couple of years between no-notice devaluations and a series of new partners that have been added at near-extortionate pricing. The partnership with Starlux was exciting, as it combined an extremely useful route (LA-Taipei), a new product with excellent reviews and the “guarantee” of a period of very appealing pricing.

From the moment that they announced bookable awards, it seemed like something was amiss. I saw that LAX-TPE was pricing out at 60k for business class, as expected, but adding a connecting flight from anywhere else in the US caused the award cost to skyrocket to 130K one-way. This shouldn’t happen with Alaska as saver positioning flights in the US are always included in the international award cost.

When I called Alaska to check on that, and to book a flight, the partner rep wasn’t able to see any awards on her end. She had no idea that they were bookable, no idea what they should cost or why the LAX-TPE route wasn’t pricing correctly with a domestic flight attached. This isn’t to denigrate the partner CSR at all. She obviously knew her way around the partner awards, but Alaska had given the reps no guidance before announcing that awards were live. She was never able to successfully find anything, but I was able to see the space and book the award via the Alaska app.

At the same time, I also saw odd pricing anomalies develop as the day went on. Hanoi-TPE was 15K in business, TPE-LAX was 60K, but adding them together caused the award to reprice all the way up to 130K. I assumed that these were IT kinks that Alaska had to work out and, with the guarantee that promotional pricing would be live for another month, that they would have things trucking by the weekend.

a calendar with numbers and a few days
This is what every month of Starlux business class looks like on Alaska’s website right now

A 30-day promotion lasts 24 hours?

Starting last night, anyone who looked for Starlux space on Alaska was gobsmacked by what they saw. On the one hand, business-class awards were available for almost every day on the schedule. The problem is that there’s not a single 60K seat to be found…and prices have increased to 165K miles…one way. Although there’s some 20K economy seats, many of them have increased to 45K one way:

a screenshot of a website

What makes this even worse is that many folks weren’t able to successfully book via the website due to technical glitches that Alaska was having on Wednesday and Thursday. When I booked my flight, I wasn’t able to get the flights to ticket on the website and was only able to complete it using the app (the CSR couldn’t see any availability). Folks who thought that they had time to try again today are undoubtedly disappointed.

Alaska claims that all of its promotional business award availability has been booked…in less than 24 hours. Given that the whole schedule was open, that’s tough to understand, especially since there were many dates with 4+ seats when I first looked. If inventory was that tight, there’s no way that they should have promised promotional pricing until August 31st. It’s a big miss.

There’s also still some odd pricing going on with connecting flights that makes me think they  have some work to do on the Starlux integration with the booking platform. For instance, here’s the March calendar for Hanoi-Taipei in business (other months look the same):

a screenshot of a calendar

Drilling down on March 12th, we get this pricing:

a screenshot of a website

It’s only a 2.5 hour flight, but 7.5K in economy and 15K in business seems like very good pricing. If we look at the TPE-LAX flight on the same day, we see the following:

a screenshot of a website

So, buying the two legs separately would cost 27.5K in economy or 180K in business. I would actually expect the total cost booking these two together to be nearly the same as just TPE-LAX based on Alaska’s award chart. But that’s not what we find:

a screenshot of a website

Booking the two legs as one itinerary costs an extra 15K in economy (vs buying each leg separately) or 55K in business. This seem like something funky is happening with Alaska’s booking engine as they try to add saver vs non-saver, promotional pricing, etc. Hopefully, in working out these kinks, we get a second shot at some more moderately-priced options. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.

Quick Thoughts

What a bummer. It’s painful to see how poorly Alaska has managed the launch of the Starlux partnership. My assumption is that it had the best of intentions with the promise of promotional pricing, but either they completely underestimated demand, overestimated what Starlux was going to give them or are doing a complete IT faceplant (or perhaps all three). Regardless, it’s yet another partner launch that’s leaving customers feeling like they’ve been duped.

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[…] August 31, 2023 at a rate of 60,000 miles in business class and 20,000 in economy. But as noted on Frequent Miler, that space evaporated in less than 24 hours. There still remains plenty of award space, but it is […]

[…] August 31, 2023 at a rate of 60,000 miles in business class and 20,000 in economy. But as noted on Frequent Miler, that space evaporated in less than 24 hours. There still remains plenty of award space, but it is […]


I’m not a award travel expert but I didn’t expect this deal to last more than a couple days. I booked a rt to TPE for October hours after the promo was published. I was able to change my depart date the following day and there were still several business seats available.

I’m sure lots of the awards were booked speculatively which sucks but obvious. Like most great deals this didn’t last long.

Points and Miles Doc

There’s no way that all of the inventory was booked. I was watching this late PST on Wednesday and nearly every single day of the entire calendar still had 60k prices for multiple people. When I got up the next morning, there was not a single ticket left. It wasn’t booked up, unless a broker went through with an algorithm and automatically booked everything, which seems less likely given all the glitches on Wednesday.

My suspicion is that Alaska saw the high demand, got spooked, and pulled all remaining availability. They’ve done it before!


I was able to book a RT ticket for 120K miles but unable to access the res on Starlux site. Could not get answer from Starlux and AS cust service had no idea why as she couldn’t either. Finally received a call back from Starlux last night and confirmed and gave seat assignments. Today I realized I made the reservation for the completely wrong dates!


Wondering if someone cancels the flight, when the ticket back to pool, will it show as 60K or 165K……


I booked a bunch of LAX to TPE at 60k. There were plenty of returns at 60k but I needed a specific date so that was 165k. Glad I accumulated 2M Alaska miles last year when my credit card gave me a 3x spending bonus.


When something great appears book first and ask questions later. Good job

rick b

And BofA didn’t shut you down for MSing? That’s ballsy, could be like Citi who just nuked all MSer’s starting 3 years ago.


Mine wasn’t manufactured spending. I just shift my business expenses from other cards to that one.

rick b

I have to say, I’m not thrilled with all the award hoarding done by those with outsized miles balances. I don’t know how much you booked, but I’ve seen people get 10+ bookings just to sit on them and figure out what to do later.

It’s the classic tragedy of the commons, and I’m hoping award cancellation fees come back eventually to discourage this behavior. Or at least limit an account to 2-3 free cancellations a year.


I got 3 separate bookings for myself outbound and 2 on the return. The thing is, unless award cancellation fees are egregious it won’t really change the behavior much. For someone with the ability to make 10 bookings, losing $100 or 200×9 for the flexibility of 10 possible dates is really not an issue. If I couldn’t get these Starlux tickets, I would’ve just paid $6k for an Eva round trip.


Paying 1-2k in cancellation fees?? Don’t give alaska any ideas.

down with the blogfluencers

Miles bloggers like TPG whining about this because they sold people on a dream that everyone with two brain cells knew was unattainable? It was written all over the Alaska press release that this was going to require a lot of navigating of the fine print (“promotional rate” “starting at” “LAX-TPE [only]” etc. etc.)

Yeah a lot of this is mileage brokers, but the blogs (not necessarily FM since this isn’t really that kind of a blog – that’s why I like it) sell people on sweet spots that don’t exist to juice their referral commissions. The travel/points blogfluencer cottage industry is ridiculous, highly obnoxious, and, as far as I can tell, broadly spreads misinformation and bad advice 95-99% of the time.

as far as I know, I was the first person to discover that this was bookable. I did share it, and immediately people were sharing on Insta, sharing on the blogs, etc. Honestly it’s not even that a good deal since you can’t tack on any extra legs without increasing the price x150%, but the gimmick is fun and well worth a quick vacation in Taiwan.


I was trying to book LAX-TPE-KUL but as you mentioned in the article it required 130K miles, compared to 60K and 50K for each segement separately for a total of 110K. I phoned Alaska and explained to the agent who apparently was aware of the IT glich. She indicated the it was in the process of being fixed and suggested I try in another couple of hours. I was concerned the award space would be gone soon so I booked and ticketed two separate awards. The glitch was indeed fixed about five hours later and it was shown 85K for the itinerary on many dates but not the time of the year I want to travel. I called Alaska again and explained to the agent the situation hoping to get 25K (110K-85K) back. I was transferred twice to finally speak to the lead for the partner award. She insisted there was no glich in Alaska system. She further stated, based on her 20+ years in the business, it is quite common for a itinerary involved connection that it costs fewer miles to book two segments separately than one. At that point I realized the conversation went nowhere so I just thanked her and hang up.

rick b

So all these comments don’t explain why 20k coach is gone. I’d take that in a hearbeat it’s a steal. Probably the miles brokers swarm is the more likely explanation.


Alaska did botch anything… The bloggers DESTROYED this. Everyone out there posting about this and all of the sudden booking skyrocket and Alaska took note and protected its costs.


How did you know Starlux awards were available?


I booked a 60K Starlux before it was even blogged. I can assure you…. people who are into miles and points will find it on their own. Let those who search find their glory instead of SCREAMING out every single good deal.


How did you know Starlux would be bookable with Alaska miles at some point? Let me guess – found it on your own? If you “find everything on your own” why are you following any travel blogs?


What is unmentioned by the blogs and you is that there continues to be limited Premium Economy awards available at the 40K promo level. JX’s PE product has received good reviews.

FM reader

But wait. I thought the promo pricing was done. ???


Nope. I even found one day with a 60K J award. And people are sleeping on PE.

Last edited 8 months ago by Dom
FM reader

Yeah I was joking


Some of the Malaysia prices as documented in Tim’s linked “extortionate” post are insane. I was looking today, Bangkok(BKK)-Kuala Lampur(KUL) which is a 800 mile 2 hour flight, 65,000 IN BIZ!!!!! INSANE!!!! Strangely I found nothing on AA’s website. Any reports of having to call in for booking MH thru AA?

Last edited 8 months ago by Scott

This is really a terrible look on Alaska’s part. I used to go out of my way to collect *their* miles but now I have switched to AA at every juncture (loyalty points ftw!)

FM reader

You guys said this the same for Emirates


And BA

Alaska is laughing at you guys right now knowing that they can get away with anything and people will be licking their chops collecting Alaska miles.


Are we including churning BofA AS biz subs??? Those require so little effort.

Last edited 8 months ago by Scott
FM reader

Gonna disagree with you here Tim. This is what happens when 99% of every blog on the planet posts “hurry up and book your Starlux tickets on AS”. All the saver seats are gone and now it is doing a non saver price. People are overhyping this BUSINESS class product like crazy.

What do you think? Starlux is going to sell the whole biz cabin at saver rates? Then why would anyone buy a cash ticket if they could just buy AS miles on sale.

TPG wrote similar and I don’t understand the logic there either.

Breaking: Saver seats are gone, and now dynamic seats are available. With only one flight a day to LAX, they can’t dump capacity.

FM reader

I disagree with the title.

“Alaska Airlines fumbles launch of Starlux awards”

In what way? By people booking and taking up all of the seats at saver rates?

“It’s gone in 24 hours”…

Yeah…. That’s kind of what happens when everyone and their mom sees wide open space and books it.

Yes I’ve heard of some of the online issues. But I’ve also heard that people just tried to book again and went thru. No point in calling a partner desk.

How are you so sure that promotional pricing is done?

FM reader

Would you really think that Alaska would say “seats will be available for 48 hours at 60K”?

Be realistic here. They have no way to guarantee that.