It was announced earlier that American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are adjusting their partnership, eliminating some reciprocal benefits for their elite passengers and cutting mileage earning rates. Just last week I benefited from a free exit row seat and free checked bags when returning home from a family visit in Texas.
Loss of Reciprocal Benefits and Mileage Credit
But beginning in 2018, those reciprocal benefits will be eliminated, and you will no longer be able to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles when you fly on domestic American Airlines flights unless you purchase an Alaska codeshare (i.e., operated by American but your ticket has an Alaska flight number). This will significantly curtail the ability of Midwest and East Coast travelers to earn status on Alaska if they haven’t already been discouraged by the loss of Delta’s partnership.
The same restrictions will apply to people who want to earn American AAdvantage miles on Alaska-operated flights: it must be a codeshare with an AA flight number. To repeat, American will only let you earn miles if it has an AA number, and Alaska will only let you earn miles if it has an AS number.
Higher Prices for Mileage Plan Award Chart
The other significant change coming for Mileage Plan members is that the cost of award travel on American Airlines-operated flights will be going up in many cases (and, in some cases, going down). You have until the end of this weekend–December 31–to book any last-minute tickets at current prices.
I’ve highlighted the changes, and as you can see nearly all awards are going up. A few go down, but only to match the pricing that Alaska already uses for its own flights on the same routes.
“Business/First Class” refers to business class on a three-cabin aircraft or first class on a two-cabin aircraft. “First Class” refers to first class on a three-cabin aircraft. I’ve already updated the Award Maximizer with the new prices for 2018.
Interestingly, a notice on the Alaska Airlines partner page for American Airlines does not mention changes to award prices for any other region pairs, such as travel between China and the Caribbean. This implies that these awards remain unchanged and much less expensive that travel to/from the United States even though a U.S. connection is required. I have reached out to Alaska Airlines for clarification on this point. It’s entirely possible that these awards will go up, too, but that the change was not properly communicated on the website.
Alaska Airlines will also be ending some discounted off-peak awards in economy class. Strangely, Mileage Plan continued to offer these long after American AAdvantage eliminated them from its own award chart. In 2018 that oversight will be corrected. Off-peak awards will only be available for travel between the U.S. and Europe, not between other regions.
No Changes to AAdvantage Award Chart
As best I can tell, there are no changes to the American AAdvantage award chart if you want to redeem American miles for travel on Alaska Airlines. This is not surprising since the AAdvantage award chart allows you to mix and match partners, so it is more difficult to target flights on Alaska and raise their costs while leaving other partners untouched. In addition, the AAdvantage chart is already very expensive, so a devaluation on that end wasn’t likely.