Alaska Airlines has announced new award chart pricing beginning March 2024. Alaska Airlines is partnered with 24 other airlines which you can earn or redeem miles with. The airline has always had great award routing and pricing through its own quirky network of carriers. On March 31, 2021, Alaska joined the Oneworld Alliance as a full member. Usually, when a carrier announces changes to award pricing, it has been with negative impacts on the customer. Most of the time airlines change award pricing, it is to devalue their program by drastically increasing the number of miles needed to redeem. Some airlines have changed mile redemptions to dynamic pricing where routes to more popular destinations and/or more popular times of the year will increase the milage redemption amount. In this case, the airline has come up with a unified award system that fixes so long-standing problems with mileage redemption.
Many of the changes have been in the works for a long time and due to computer limitations, unifying carrier awards was not possible. The Airline has now overcome the computer limitations making award booking simpler.
Since becoming a full member of Oneworld, Alaska Airlines added a boatload of new partners at the same time. You can earn miles (on paid tickets) or use miles for award travel on these carriers:
The Other Airline Partnerships
When Alaska Airlines joined the Oneworld Alliance, I thought that the existing quirky list of partners would go away. This did not happen and Alaska Airlines kept the airlines they had outside of the Oneworld Alliance. This gives Mileage Plan members a total of 24 partner carriers with both groups to purchase award travel from.
Alaska has made a number of improvements for redeeming award travel. Here is a list of changes going into effect soon:
Alaska is committed to continuing to develop new ways of adding flexibility for their Mileage Plan members. In the future, members will be able to redeem award tickets with a combination of miles and money that will give them more control. They’ll also offer mileage redemption when combining two partner airlines in a single itinerary on a one-way trip. Plus, they’ll further enhance the value of Mileage Plan miles by introducing the ability to redeem miles on car rentals.
“Mileage Plan has long been known for offering great value on global redemptions with access to some of the most aspirational premium products and destinations,” said Brett Catlin, vice president of loyalty, alliances and sales at Alaska Airlines. “We’re excited to provide a more straightforward award proposition while doubling down on the opportunities our guests will have to find amazing values.”
Distance Chart Pricing
The new award charts will be based on distance with charts for three regions:
- The Americas,
- Europe, Middle East, Africa and
- Asia Pacific.
With the new distance-based structure, 60% of partner nonstop routes in economy class and 64% of routes in business class will start at a lower price point. The streamlined information gives a better idea of how many miles are needed to fly to and within regions of the world with short-haul awards starting as low as 4,500 miles each way (down from 7,500). Many shorter-distance flights within continents will start at up to half the current price.
Multi-Partner Award Bookings
This has always be a problem with the Alaska Airlines booking engine. You could not partner a second airline to an award booking unless the other flights were positioning flights on Alaska Airlines to the Partner gateway airport.
They’re also expanding access to premium economy awards with more partners than ever before, including American Airlines and Japan Airlines, at award levels starting just 30% higher than economy. Awards start at only 6,000 miles one-way in premium economy (down from 12,500) and business class is available from 9,000 miles each way (down from 20,000).
All our partner redemption pricing will be one-way so their guests can mix and match which airlines they’re flying, say British Airways on an outbound flight from Seattle to London and then Finnair from Helsinki to Seattle for the return.
Award Travel Still Includes Free Stopovers
One of the sweet spots with Alaska Airlines award booking is the free stopover. If you want your vacation to include London, Paris and Rome, you can book this trip by booking two one-way award tickets with a stopover. Alaska does not charge extra for adding a stopover to your itinerary.
Solving The Business Class Inequity Problem
When you book business class on international flights, you expect to have lay-flat seating. Some airlines like Icelandair do not have lay-flat seats in business class as they offer recliner-type seating. This will no longer be a problem as these seats will be redeemed as premium economy awards.
Award Ticket Sales Promotions
This is something that Alaska Airlines has never done, have periodic sales for award travel. Beginning in 2024, they’ll offer regular global partner award sales with quarterly, limited-time promotions featuring special pricing of up to 50% off specific partners, routes or destinations.
This is a big deal especially if you can get away for any last-minute sale bookings.
Usually, any changes to an Airline award problem is laden with a lot of bad news. Although there may be some routings that will require a larger mileage redemption, some routings may require fewer miles for redemption. Alaska has fixed a lot of issues with its booking engine like combining award carriers for a single trip. These quirks have been to limitations within their IT Department. Alaska has kept the free stopover which can give you a free vacation in one direction of travel. The program has never offered any routing with “sale” pricing so I will be looking to expand my horizons by finding a great trip with a lower mileage redemption.