Alaska Airlines has announced some sweeping changes to its Mileage Plan loyalty program, which are set to come into effect in March 2024. The changes will affect everything from the way award charts are structured, to the way flights will be priced with partner airlines.
Let’s take stock of the changes, including some of the awards that are moving up and down in price.
Upcoming Changes to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
In 2024, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan will be getting a significant overhaul. The changes, which were officially announced on the Alaska Airlines website, represent a notable shift in how the loyalty program operates, and the options it presents to its members.
As of March 2024, Mileage Plan will use a total of three award charts for travel to various parts of the world. The charts are separated by travel within the Americas, travel to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and travel to the Asia-Pacific region.
Within each chart, pricing is based on the cumulative distance flown and the class of service. The numbers within each column represent “Saver”-level award pricing, which is the lowest cost you’ll see for any particular route.
In other words, the numbers in the charts are the lowest prices that you’ll see, but you could also see prices that are much higher.
Importantly, the “Saver”-level award pricing will be the same for all partner airlines. Currently, the lowest prices differ for many partner airlines, which makes it difficult to understand.
Travel within the Americas will be subject to the following chart:
Travel to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will be subject to the following chart:
And travel to the Asia-Pacific region will be subject to the following chart:
The pricing for awards is based on the cumulative distance flown, and the routing rules remain the same as they currently are.
You’ll also be able to redeem Alaska miles for travel within or between any of the above regions. This is an improvement to the current state of affairs, whereby you can only redeem Alaska miles within or between select regions.
Premium economy redemptions with more airlines are being introduced, with pricing starting at 30% more than economy.
Mileage Plan will offer a greater number of awards with partner airlines, although they may come at a higher cost than the “Saver”-level pricing on the new charts.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan will offer a greater number of awards with partner airlines, but perhaps with higher pricing
While the details are currently scarce, Mileage Plan will introduce promotional award sales for flights with partner airlines. You’ll get a discount of up to 50% with specific partners, routes, and/or destinations.
Furthermore, as of 2024, you’ll be able to combine up to two partners on a one-way booking. Currently, you may only combine an Alaska Airlines flight with a single partner airline.
The stopover policy will remain the same, as will the change/cancellation policy, which lets you refund your booking at no cost.
More details about the changes are expected to come in the leadup to the changes being implemented.
A New Direction for Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
First off, it’s worth noting that we’ve received ample notice for the upcoming round of changes to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, unlike the no-notice changes to Japan Airlines awards in March 2023.
As for the changes, we’re seeing a bit of good and bad.
It’s great to see that you can soon redeem Alaska miles for travel within a region, which may be helpful for nesting a trip within a trip, or for making a useful one-way redemption in the absence of other options. You’ll also have more flexibility to redeem miles for travel between regions, which has been restricted up until now.
Furthermore, having all partner awards starting at the same price is indeed an improvement, since you’ll know that the price to watch out for as a good deal is the same for all airlines, and not just some. In this sense, the revised program is much more simplified than in its current state.
It’s also worth noting that the pricing for short-haul flights is quite good, and there’s certainly some value to be found there. You’ll pay as few as 4,500 miles to fly up to 750 miles, and 7,500 miles to fly 750–1,500 miles.
However, a major shift for a program wouldn’t be complete without some bad news, and in this case, award pricing for some popular premium redemptions is going to increase.
Interestingly, Alaska Airlines claims that 60% of partner non-stop routes in economy and 64% of non-stop routes in business class will come with a lower starting price point with the revised program.
For flights within the United States or between Canada and the United States, medium-haul flights will see an increase in pricing in economy:
- 1,401–2,100 miles: from 10,000 miles to 12,500 miles
- 2,101–4,000 miles: from 12,500 miles to 17,500 miles
Flights from Canada or the US to Hawaii measuring 2,101–4,000 miles, which will be lumped into the Americas chart and not separated as they are now, will increase from 15,000 to 17,500 miles.
As for flights to international destinations, we’re seeing a bit of a mixed bag. It’s worth noting that many of the legacy sweet spots are disappearing, although with availability having been dismal for quite some time, it’s not as big of a loss.
Flights with Japan Airlines will remain the same, have an increase, or a slight decrease, depending on your origin:
- Business class flights from Vancouver and Seattle will start at 60,000 miles (no change from current pricing)
- Business class flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Dallas, Chicago, New York, and Boston will start at 75,000 miles (up from 60,000 miles (SFO, LAX, SAN), down from 80,000 miles (DFW, ORD, JFK, BOS))
Flights with Cathay Pacific will see an increase in pricing:
- Business class flights from Vancouver and San Francisco will start at 75,000 miles (up from 50,000 miles)
- Business class flights from Los Angeles, Chicago, New York JFK, Toronto, and Boston will start at 85,000 miles (up from 50,000 miles)
- First Class flights from Los Angeles will start at 130,000 miles (up from 70,000 miles)
If you can find availability, Cathay Pacific First Class awards are increasing in cost dramatically
Flights with Fiji Airlines will see an increase in pricing:
- Business class flights from Vancouver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to Nadi will start at 75,000 miles (up from 55,000)
Direct flights between North America and Taipei with Starlux Airlines will remain the same as they currently are:
- Business class flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Taipei will start at 75,000 miles (no change)
There are many other routings that will see changes, and we’ll do a broader analysis of the changes in the near future.
Alaska Airlines has announced some sweeping changes to its Mileage Plan program, which are set to come into effect in March 2024.
The program is rejigging its award charts, and harmonizing the “starting at” pricing for all partner airlines. In some cases, award pricing is going up, while in other cases, it’s remaining the same, or going down.
There’ll also be a number of other changes, including the addition of partner award sales, combining up to two partner airlines on a single itinerary, and being able to redeem miles for travel within and between regions.
If you have a balance of Alaska miles to use up, be sure to compare the costs now with the future costs, and make your redemptions accordingly.