Well, we knew it was coming.
When Alaska Airlines introduced its unified award chart at the end of 2022, Mileage Plan members breathed a sigh of relief, because the much-feared devaluation did not come to pass. Sweet spots for intra-Asia awards on Japan Airlines, and Asia to North America awards on Cathay Pacific remained unmolested.
There was a caveat, however: Alaska didn’t actually publish an award chart for point-to-point travel outside the USA and Canada, and even their published award chart for travel between the USA/Canada and the rest of the world displayed “starting from” prices. This meant the actual prices would be dictated by an unseen algorithm, reducing transparency and opening the door to unannounced devaluations.
While this certainly concerned me, I resolved not to worry about things we couldn’t change, and to make hay until the sun stopped shining.
The sun has now stopped shining.
Alaska Mileage Plan makes no-notice devaluation
Alaska Mileage Plan has just hiked the cost of many JAL awards without any notice.
For example, a one-way JAL Business Class award between Singapore and Japan used to cost 25,000 miles. It now costs 50,000 miles.
Likewise, a one-way JAL Economy Class award between Singapore and Japan used to cost 15,000 miles. It now costs 25,000 miles.
However, it doesn’t mean all intra-Asia routes have increased equally. MileLion reader Eric spotted that one-way JAL Business Class awards between Manila and Tokyo have “only” increased by 10,000 miles.
Elsewhere, a one-way Business Class award between Asia and the USA on JAL used to cost 65,000 miles. It’s now increased to 100,000 miles.
If it’s any consolation, intra-Asia Business Class awards on Cathay Pacific remain at 22,500 miles. This could be the new sweet spot, if you don’t mind a layover in Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific Business Class awards between Asia and the USA remain at 50,000 miles each way, so I assume that First Class should remain at 70,000 miles as well (it’s very hard to find space to verify- big shout out to Eric for hunting down the following screenshots).
If you’re holding on to an existing award, you’re safe (though you can’t make any changes to it without triggering the new pricing). However, if you’re making a new booking, you will be subject to the new prices. Yes, no notice devaluations suck.
But history has shown that Alaska is not above such shenanigans. While they previously pledged to provide “at least 3 month’s notice of changes, their record doesn’t match the rhetoric. And who can forget the time in 2016 they nerfed Emirates awards without any notice, blaming “travel hackers” in the process?
Since the vast majority of Singapore-based members will be buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles instead of earning them from flying, this devaluation has a direct impact on their cost of travel.
With a 50% bonus, Alaska Mileage Plan miles cost 1.97 US cents each, and a one-way Business Class ticket from Singapore to Tokyo cost US$493. With the changes, you’re now paying US$985.
Alaska Mileage Plan has carried out an unannounced devaluation of partner awards, with intra-Asia Business Class awards on Japan Airlines particularly hard hit. These go from 25,000 miles to 50,000 miles overnight, doubling the cost for anyone who buys miles to redeem them.
This was always a real danger ever since Alaska replaced its award charts with dynamic pricing, and while I had hoped for the best, this can’t come as a big surprise to anyone.
The last time Alaska pulled a no-notice devaluation, they promised to refund all mileage purchases made around that period. Who wants to bet they do something similar this time?
Is it no loss. There were cheaper ways to fly JAL from Singapore to Japan using miles, and those cheaper options remain.
Is this some “boomerang”, or just cheaper in SGD when purchasing miles?
Keep that to yourself and not blog about it =D
Frustratingly, got affected by this devaluation between the time it took for the miles to be credited to my account. (credited this morning!) Was truly an unpleasant surprise when all was ok over the weekends. Now hoping they will be able to refund as per your last sentence
Happened to me too. what a luck.
Yet again bloggers kill the sweet spots
Totally agree with you. First, the stop over with JAL. Second, the SQ $100 stop over fee. Third, this time. In a way, they are slowly killing themselves too. Once all the tricks are gone, readership may drop. Wish they can survive :).
Probably JAL has complained to Alaska that too many has skipped the domestic route while transiting in Tokyo that forced Alaska to take actions…
Not sure about the why of the TYO>Asia flights, but the US>Japan flights were an overwhelmingly large amount of redemptions. Spoke to Alaska Mileage Plan agent and she informed me that just every other call was about JAL flight awards. That isn’t a problem caused by bloggers. The interest in travel to Japan is its opening to world travel. I would think JAL and Alaska would want members/passengers to be buying and redeeming miles. It is an obvious spike that will end in 10 months. But, burning customers has become rather routine airline practice.
The rooster crows immediately before sunrise; therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
Illegitimi Non Carborundum
Looks like they’re practicing dynamic pricing on Cathay Pacific flights. Economy class shows up as 12.5 for some flights and 15k for others.
$900 for business class is still cheap…
The previous numbers were meaningless anyway since you couldn’t find any J awards anyway
I’m very pleased to have driven my stash of Alaska miles from 200K+ down to 12,000 over the past few months, but very disappointed that I will no longer be able to hunt for the elusive JAL 1st class awards. I’ll certainly miss the efficient and extremely friendly Alaska call centre staff, who have been the very best I have encountered over the past 8 years.
DEL/BOM to Japan on JAL in J has also doubled to 50k miles one way. Glad I booked these in December, anticipating a devaluation.
I can confirm that changing the existing award flight would cost another 25,000 Miles. Very gutted !!!!
Were you trying to change the final destination or just the date of the onward flight?
I just wanna change the date/time of my domestic flight (CTS-HND) only.
just checked: JAL First Class NRT-JFK is now at 100k 🙁
any idea if we’re able to leave airport for a few days of stop over in hong kong before heading over to tokyo on cathay pacific?