Alaska Airlines is reversing their brash decision to limit award travel on flights within 72 hours of departures on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airways, and Hainan on most routes, just a little over a day of being enacted. The unreasonable and unannounced Mileage Plan devaluation was ridiculous and travelers and frequent flyers looking to use miles on award travel can celebrate once again. Premium travel will be available last minute by end of the business day!
The advance booking restriction for these carriers, including awards from North America to Asia will be removed by close of business. The 72-hour advance booking requirement will remain in place for intra-Asia awards only on CX, JL, and HU.
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) February 15, 2018
72 Hour Advance Ticketing Requirement
Many of the world’s best airlines do not release premium cabins to partners in advance of 72 hours. This is extremely common with Cathay Pacific First Class, Lufthansa Airlines, Swiss Airlines, and others luxury carriers. It isn’t until a day or two, or just hours before departure that the best cabins (first class) becomes available for mileage awards. On several occasions I have purchased a premium economy award ticket and upgraded to first or business just hours before my flight. The 72-hour restriction would limit nearly every first-class award I’ve ever redeemed with partners miles. The same would be true for thousands of other mileage plan members looking to redeem miles.
I personally cannot think of a major US carrier that has a similar restriction for award travel. Some airlines charges an additional close-in ticketing fee for award travel. Yet, they still allow for last-minute awards. Even Delta, which does not allow members to cancel tickets within 72 hours allow members to buy last-minute award tickets. Alaska’s 72 hour restriction was a major blow to premium cabin awards to Asia.
Alaska’s New Award Restrictions
Although Alaska Airlines has announced that the 72-hour hold will be removed by end of day, it is not being completely removed. The removal is only for flights departing North America. For flights within Asia, the 72-hour advance purchase requirement will still be in place. This isn’t as bad though, because short-haul flights typically have more award seats available earlier than 72 hours. Currently, awards on JAL and Hainan on not available form other regions. It is unclear if Cathay Pacific awards on routes such as Europe-Asia, or Asia-Australia will still be subjected to the same restrictions.
Best news ever!
— Rocky (@doublewidesfly) February 15, 2018
It is unknown if Alaska Airlines will institute other restrictions on award bookings. I have a feeling that a massive devaluation is coming and awards will cost thousands of miles more. Remember, Alaska has a history of instituting program changes without notice. A similar instance was when Alaska Airlines doubled the number of miles needed for Emirates award bookings. At the time, Alaska also claimed it was due to fraud, a similar excuse this time. Fortunately for us, Alaska Airlines is quickly backtracking on yesterday’s changes. Let’s hope that the airline will be more transparent, provide proper notice to mileage plan changes, and in the future use better rational for changes.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to Alaska Airlines on complained about this absurd policy. I personally wrote an open letter to the airlines on twitter. No matter what you did, it is clear, the airlines has heard us!