Well, that was fast. When Alaska launched its new unified award chart a couple of months ago, I said that it was set up for a stealth devaluation. That’s because it said that prices would be “from” the minimums listed, setting things up for easily dynamic pricing — and even that wasn’t accurate since some routes priced from less. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Alaska to go dynamic, with awards on Japan Airlines already “adjusted”, as reported by Leon in our Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook group last night. What used to cost 60,000 miles in business class or 70,000 miles in first class has increased by 33-43%, with some business class nonstops on Japan Airlines now costing 80K miles one way and first class now 100K miles one way.
Alaska devalues business class awards on Japan Airlines by 33%
Prior to December 30, 2022, Alaska had individual partner award charts for each partner airline. The chart for travel on Japan Airlines was particularly attractive. Before 12/30/22, a business class award between Chicago and Tokyo was 60,000 miles one-way.
Unfortunately, overnight and without notice or notification, that same award now costs 80,000 miles one way as seen in this example from Chicago to Tokyo(NRT).
That’s a devaluation of 33%.
The good news (I guess) is that pricing is still 60K each way between the west coast and Japan, as seen in this example from San Francisco to Tokyo.
Alaska also devalues first class awards by as much as 43%
First class used to be 70,000 miles one-way. It’ll now cost 100,000 miles one-way between Tokyo and Chicago.
The devaluation from the west coast isn’t quite as extreme, though it still stinks at 85,000 miles for what used to cost 70,000 miles.
And here’s another example of the devaluation in both business and first class between New York and Tokyo.
Not surprising, but very disappointing nonetheless
This devaluation doesn’t surprise me. When the new award chart was unveiled at the end of last year, I expressed my strong disappointment in Alaska creating what was effectively a completely dynamic award chart, which would really destroy the value of Alaska Mileage Plan. I also noted that collecting Alaska miles via their credit card was a questionable value proposition since we didn’t know what to expect from this new dynamic award chart. Unfortunately, they didn’t wait long to prove me right on that.
Further, this just continues a status quo of airlines devaluing awards with no notice to members or notification once they’ve done it. That really, really stinks. Surely some customers have been collecting miles for years with specific redemptions in mind. The fact that Alaska has pulled out the rug on those redemptions to the tune of a 33% or 43% increase in price is just a massive disappointment.
Alaska obviously set the precedent for no-notice devaluation years ago when they devalued Emirates awards by stunning margins overnight, but we’ve seen that type of activity pick up steam with other programs in recent years. While I didn’t like that Air Canada Aeroplan devalued awards last year, at least they did it with some notice so that those who had saved up miles with redemptions in mind could take advantage of the sweet spots before they increased award prices.
Alaska Airlines has massively devalued awards in both business and first class on Japan Airlines. While business class awards to and from the West Coast go unchanged, business class from other parts of the US and all first class awards were devalued significantly. Business and first class awards now cost 33-43% more miles from most of the country to and from Japan. It is particularly disappointing that Alaska made this change with no advance notice and no notification of members. When their new award chart launched, it looked like it was ripe for stealth devaluations, and this development just proves that to be true.
H/T: Leon in Frequent Miler Insiders
Quick question for those who know. Did it used to cost 65k to fly JAL from SFO-NRT-BKK? I thought that’s what I’ve read… now pricing 80k. or has this always been the case?
INFLATION! Blame Helicopter Jerome Powell of FED printing $$ which ends up mostly in well-to-do folks’ pockets to spend.
Being on the East Coast I’d still be paying less for Biz with Alaska vs BA. 80K & $19 vs 92,750K & $380.
It might not be sweet to some but it’s certainly not sour to me. This is knowing that I’m always looking for 3 award seats at anytime for me and my family.
$57 & 240K is more favorable than $1,106.40 & 278,250K on BA to fly Biz or jumping into First for an additional 60K.
This is also still better than Cathay’s 75K and $388 in taxes.
I had LAX-HND in F for late this year that I booked in January. I was notified last night that there was a schedule change. Nope, JL did an equipment swap for the last part of the year and no F seats on 787. So I lost my seat and didn’t even get J as a consolation. I bet they’ll swap back to the 777 later.
Let’s be honest here: engaged members got a big middle finger. No, even worse. we got Bonvoyed. This would be less disturbing if Alaska hadn’t specifically promised not to do this. Going out of their way to destroy trust that was built over the course of decades is a phenomenally shortsighted decision. I just don’t see things working out well for them as a result.
Just booked HND-DFW 1st class two days ago for 70k. Maybe I’m the straw that broke the camels back? Glad I earn em and burn em instantly. Ridiculous devaluation that we all saw coming. This was the best points redemption available after Virgin/ANA devaluation. RIP.
raise credit card bonus by a little, raise award prices more!
It’s the trust in their program that devaluing, but some heads there seems don’t care.
“As always, we’ll strive to give at least 90 days’ notice if changes were coming to any current partner awards.” I guess they didn’t strive at all. They dumped their own policy, and that’s saddening because they used to have a decent loyalty program. Now it came to the end without any trust.
The ordinary customer service people at Alaska are nice and helpful, but not the ones who make policies and unannounced changes. It’s the management… These days is hard to find honest CEOs at any industry in the US.
*phew* we booked out west coast to NRT flight a few months ago when it became available for our travel date later in Sept this year. Happy we did that when we did!
[…] Since then, I’d argue there have been 3 amazing ways to use Alaska miles to fly some of the best first and business class products in the air: Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Last year, Alaska removed their award charts and that was a major signal that they would hit the consumer with hidden devaluations. And…it’s started to happen. H/T Frequent Miler […]
Let’s call it what it really is: point price inflation. It’s no different than the price going up on a carton of eggs, a loaf of break, or a jug of milk. Certainly, no one likes it. But, it’s just the way it is baby. Let’s all put on our big boy pants.
Put on the big boy pants and acknowledge that this is a devaluation of the AS miles and that AS decided to do yet another customer-unfriendly devaluation.
AlaskaAir controls the miles/points-currency printing and use in a closed ecosystem of its own making, so any “inflation” hit encountered by customers with AS miles is all on AlaskaAir management/shareholders showing yet again that it’s yet another nothing-special airline which can’t be trusted to have a fiduciary responsibility toward AS MileagePlan members who invest in the AS frequent flyer program by building up balances in the accounts.
Regarding inflation versus devaluation, I’m simply discussing terminology.
I don’t fly Alaska. I agree with you that it is a nothing-special airline. From your comments, I’ll guess that you believe Alaska has a “difficult” loyalty program . . . and I will again agree with you. So, if we agree that the program is rotten, we won’t whine about it . . . we simply won’t play in it.
As for any duty to customers with respect to the loyalty program, it is a good faith and fair dealing duty but not a fiduciary duty. This is a legal distinction.
You can’t just focus on what AK is doing to its reward program, you have to do comparisons. In this respect mileage plan is now trash. I’m building an itinerary for a 2024 trip and vis-à-vis AA redemption are substantially lower. Who knows if AA brings their redemption into parity but AK is no longer that halo program all these bloggers rave about. That consensus .02-.018cpm is probably devalued to less than .01cpm now.
Less than 1cpm? I don’t like this devaluation any more than anyone else, but when you compare even the increased business and biz and first class redemption rates in this post with cash rates, surely you wouldn’t find the miles to be worth less than 1c each, would you?
Remember like 10 years ago during those fools old days , Alaska mileage customer service rep would call us and threaten to cancel award flights because you didn’t pay annual feee on the boa Alaska card? Everyone at the time knew that it is Alaska customer care department own own and manages boa Alaska card . I never trusted Alaska and their miles are horrible when looking for international partner awards . They only show British airways flights with around $500 in fuel surcharge
Also, how long before the other sweet spots are devalued? Has anyone tried finding Fiji or Cathay awards?
Fiji still pricing at 55k biz, bad news is that there are only 4 dates from lax and 5 from SFO for the whole calendar. Perhaps people cleared out some miles after seeing the writing on the wall.
Can’t find any Cathay space at all in biz from SFO or lax.
This is very frustrating. I knew a devaluation on this was coming but my wife and I got the Alaska Card 3 weeks ago anyways because I didn’t think it would happen so quickly! Luckily we live on the West Coast so I guess we will either slurge with 85k on First or settle with business for 60k and have some points left over from our SUB.