Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Removes My Favourite Feature

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Joe and I spend a fair amount of time promoting Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. We aren’t paid for this. Let’s call it editorial integrity, instead of the fact that nobody actually offers to pay us. 😉 But all joking aside, we firmly believe that the advantages of the programme are too compelling to ignore, even if you have no plans to ever visit the airline’s base of Seattle, the state of Alaska or to fly on an airplane with an anonymous Eskimo painted on the tail…

Unfortunately, however, one of my favourite Mileage Plan features is being taken away. ? But you still have time to take advantage.

Have you ever called British Airways to cancel or change an Avios reward? That will cost you £35, with an extra £15 for doing it over the telephone.  (unless you paid less in taxes and surcharges in the first place, in which case you simply lose everything you paid) A similar fee applies to Iberia Plus rewards.

But with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, you can change or cancel ANY award booking for FREE, as long as you do it at least 60 days before departure.

It is hard for me to underplay how valuable this feature can be. I can make an award booking through Alaska and know that I have flights confirmed for my holiday. Then if I find a better option, a higher cabin becomes available or I change my mind for whatever reason, I can make adjustments to my booking at no additional cost, as long as I do it far enough in advance. I have made dozens of flight award changes over the years… all for free!

Sadly, this perk is being removed on 5 June, 2018. You can read Alaska’s official announcement by clicking here.

However, if you have enough miles in your Alaska account, you still can take advantage of this perk one last time, even if you have no idea what your plans might be. This is due to the fact that the changes will only apply to awards BOOKED after 5 June. So, as long as you book your award before that date, any changes or cancellations after 5 June should be free – as long as you make the change at least 60 days before departure of course…

For bookings made after 5 June, 2018, you will need to pay a hefty $125 change / cancellation fee. (roughly £90-95) This new fee oddly makes it even more worthwhile to credit your long-haul Business Class flights to Alaska Airlines. Why? This fee will be waived for Alaska’s MVP Gold frequent flyers. You can reach that level of status with 50,000 miles in a year, a feat that you will manage rather easily with a couple of long haul returns in Club World!

I had hoped that Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan would avoid joining the other major American airlines in implementing customer unfriendly policies. But sadly no…

Nonetheless, I’ll be booking one or two speculative rewards with my Alaska miles soon. How about you?




  1. hamiltus says

    This makes me very happy that I made a very lucky speculative booking a few weeks ago.

    Managed to snag a Cathay Business seat from DUB to HKG right before Xmas for 42.5K Alaska miles under the pretense of the 60 day cancellation policy. Sad to see it go away but very glad I booked when I did…

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Nice one. What plane does CX have running that route?

      Besides the award chart gems, having no award change fees was one of the main benefits versus AAdvantage or Avios. $125 is simply too painful to risk for speculative bookings, so my mindset will have to change with Alaska MP.

      Still great value, but will have to limit myself to trips I’m definitely going to take.

      • hamiltus says

        Luckily for me Dublin is one of Cathay’s newest routes that they announced last year (alongside Barcelona and Copenhagen) so I’ll be in one of their new A350s ?
        Chose Dublin to avoid UK APD taxes (I only paid $41 in taxes and fees) and for its rare award space (won’t say which date exactly but let’s just say it’s in the week running up to Xmas)

    • Craig Sowerby says

      It’s not particularly difficult to find award space in Cathay Pacific Business Class. Keep in mind that you have maybe 20 flights per day to/from various easily accessible cities across Europe. Take your pick and avoid UK APD in the process… With BA/Virgin you’re stuck with the 3-4 flights per day from London to Hong Kong, a few more if BA’s destinations in Asia are convenient.

    • hamiltus says

      Yeah finding Cathay space is pretty easy. I just searched on and played around with my dates. I then simply called Alaska to book (I did however stupidly forget to ask to have the phone booking fee waived lol ?)

  2. oneworld loyalist says

    Ah that’s a bummer. Can one of you beautiful people do a post on collecting Alaska miles in the UK (other than crediting BA flights)? Would be really helpful. Can I convert my Amex MR points to Alaska for example? Thanks a bunch!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Unfortunately, Alaska isn’t an Amex MR partner in the UK. To get serious numbers of Alaska miles you really need to be looking at SPG or Marriott Travel Packages.

      • hamiltus says

        Yeah unless you’re willing to invest into the SPG/Marriott eco-system or simply purchasing AS miles outright during one of their sales, Alaska’s a bit tricky to earn outside North America (besides flying Global Partners like BA, Finnair and soon Aer Lingus)

        Technically you can transfer AMEX MR to SPG and then onto Alaska, however, the ratio is dreadful and not worth the faff.

        • Craig Sowerby says

          I’m sure you could convert Amex MR to Avios, then book “part pay with Avios” revenue tickets and then credit those to Alaska. Probably equally as dreadful value though!

          • Joe Deeney says

            Interesting idea – I might take a quick look at some numbers on that. The Amex-SPG-Alaska ratio isn’t necessarily bad value, particularly if it helps you get enough for a Marriott to Alaska Flights & Hotel Package. When I want to close an Amex MR account, I tend to send my remaining Points over to SPG these days.

        • Craig Sowerby says

          No. I’ve never seen any hotel point conversion bonus with Alaska.

          In fact, Marriott haven’t announced the terms of Travel Packages going forward, so there is a risk that it won’t be 120K much longer. I believe Marriott did say that they want to simplify the number of different Travel Packages.

  3. Ian Macky says

    In the “good features” category, I recently found out that if you either miss, or deliberately no-show for, an AA redemption flight, you can get the miles back. You pay the usual re-instatement fee that you’d pay if you cancelled an award, however I think it’s damn decent of them to give the miles back for a seat that has already left without you. Works even if your redemption was for a partner airline.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Interesting. I think Avianca Lifemiles also does that. It does seem generous. I get nervous enough cancelling a BA/IB reward a week in advance, with all the potential for IT problems and general laziness.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Cheers Ian, yes, that does seem extremely reasonable of them! I also like the relative ease with which you can often switch flight times same day in the US Being able to swap to an earlier flight once ended up saving me the best part of a day as there was bad weather coming in that caused the usual havoc later – AA made the process very easy.

      • Craig Sowerby says

        AA does well with point to point. Connecting flights are another matter. Even if you want to just get to the connecting city on an earlier flight to make the connection safer, no can do…

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