Safe for now: Alaska Mileage Plan publishes new partner award chart

Alaska's new unified partner award chart is here. Existing sweet spots are unchanged, though future unannounced devaluations are possible.

It’s been known for a while that Alaska Mileage Plan was planning to publish a unified partner award chart by the end of 2022. 

The big fear was that this would lead to a devaluation of existing sweet spots for partners like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. After all, the individual partner award charts Mileage Plan had published for Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways didn’t exactly give reason to be optimistic.

Starting late December, the way you view award charts online is changing. We’ll have a simplified award chart to show you where award levels start based on which regions you’re traveling from and to.

With this change, similar to awards on Alaska, partner award levels may vary depending on multiple factors including route, distance, or demand. 

-Alaska

Alaska has now published its unified partner award chart, and I feel a mixture of relief and worry. The good news is that existing sweet spots appear to be unaffected. You can still redeem Cathay Pacific Business Class awards from Asia to the USA for 50,000 miles, or Japan Airlines Business Class awards from Singapore to Tokyo for 25,000 miles. 

The bad news is that the award chart’s ambiguous language opens the door for potentially higher pricing in the future, without any notice. Moreover, there is no more award chart for point-to-point travel outside the USA and Canada. 

Alaska Mileage Plan’s partner award chart

Alaska Mileage Plan has published a new award chart for international travel between the USA/Canada and the rest of the world. This replaces all existing award charts for individual airline partners. 

Prices reflect one-way pricing

The key thing to note is that pricing above reflects the “starting at” amount, which means awards could possibly cost more than this, depending on dates and partner airline. In other words, what you see above is the lowest cost potentially available on any partner airline- not necessarily the one you want. 

You’ll notice that some of Alaska Mileage Plan’s best sweet spots seem to be unaffected. Asia to the USA on Cathay Pacific Business/First Class was historically 50,000/70,000 miles; that’s still reflected in the table above (with the caveat it’s a “starting from” price).

When I ran real-world searches, I could still find Business Class award space from Hong Kong to the USA on Cathay Pacific at 50,000 miles.

What about travel elsewhere around the world?

Unfortunately, Alaska has not published an award chart for point to point travel outside the US and Canada, such as Singapore to Tokyo. You’ll need to run a manual search to view pricing.

A favourite sweet spot for Singapore-based members is Singapore to Japan on Japan Airlines Business Class, and that’s still pricing at 25,000 miles each way. 

The lack of an award chart is particularly concerning here, because it means that prices could change at any time without notice. It looks like we’ll be living dangerously now. 

Is this good or bad news?

In one sense, this unified award chart is a big relief. Everyone thought the sweet spots for Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines were goners for sure, but it looks like those have been maintained for now. 

On the other hand, I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet. The new award chart leaves open the possibility of further, unannounced devaluations thanks to the ambiguous “starting from” caveat. 

I also don’t like that there’s no award chart for point-to-point travel outside the USA/Canada. This gives Alaska more scope to introduce dynamic pricing on the sly, since there’s absolutely no fixed point of reference as to how much an award should “really” cost.

Simply put, there’s a lot less transparency to Alaska Mileage Plan now, and that never bodes well for the future. 

Conclusion

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class

Alaska Mileage Plan has published a unified partner award chart, which replaces all existing individual partner award charts. While existing sweet spots remain unmolested, the chart does leave open the possibility of future unannounced devaluations. 

My advice would be the same as always: if you plan to buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles during one of their frequent sales, always check pricing and availability beforehand, and redeem them straight away. Holding on to miles or buying them speculatively can leave you vulnerable to stealth devaluations, which are all the easier now that the award chart (where it exists) only states the minimum possible price.

What do you make of Alaska’s new award chart?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Mr Roboto

Dynamic pricing, with a floor

lifeonthego

Perhaps changes have as yet only been made to/from US and Canada. Other sweet spots, like some cities in India to specific ones in Europe also remain.

Last edited 1 year ago by lifeonthego
Jem

Hi, It’s my first time using Alaska’s miles, and need the experts help. Bookings can only be made via Alaska platform? I can’t use JAL site to book and opt to use Alaska miles? I see more flights on JAL site than on Alaska…

Asp

yes

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