Alaska Airlines Rolls Out New Award Charts

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Summary

  • Award redemption charts are changing, simplifying the process, and lowering minimum thresholds for Alaska Airlines-operated and partner flights.
  • 60% of partner nonstop economy routes begin at lower mileage points, with new charts available globally by the end of the month.
  • Simplified partner redemptions offer more flexibility, and the premium economy starts at 6,000 miles one way, down from 12,500.

US carrier Alaska Airlines is beginning to roll out its new award redemption charts. The minimum redemption threshold has been lowered, and redemptions across the majority of flights featuring airline partners are being simplified.

Consolidating the award chart map

Alaska Airlines is one of the few remaining US carriers that publishes an award redemption chart based on distances. Previously, there were several Mileage Plan charts depending on the destination and operating carrier. This has now been reduced to Alaska Airlines-operated flights and those operated in conjunction with its airline partners.

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Rules have been updated since last year.

The changes were first announced last year, with news that short-haul awards will start as low as 4,500 miles each way (down from 7,500). According to the airline, 60% of partner nonstop routes in economy class and 64% of routes in business class will start at a lower price point thanks to the new distance-based structure. In a statement seen by The Points Guy, Brett Catlin, Vice President of Loyalty, Alliances, and Sales at Alaska Airlines, emphasized the simplicity of the new program:

“As a Mileage Plan member, our guests deserve to travel the world with ease and convenience,

“That’s why we have made some changes to our award pricing and inventory, to give them more options, simplicity, and great value for their miles. Whether they want to explore a new destination, visit a loved one, or take a relaxing vacation, they can now find more award availability and flexibility for their travel plans.”

An Alaska Airlines plane in the sky

Photo: Alaska Airlines 

The new award charts are currently appearing for North American customers and will be available worldwide by the end of the month.

How many miles do you need?

The new charts are divided into three regions: the Americas (now including Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Central America); Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and Asia-Pacific. The charts provide the base redemption cost for each sector length, but individual flight redemption prices vary significantly. Rewards will also now be possible for flights that do not have any Alaska-operated segment, including Intra European and Asian routes.

One significant improvement is the simplification of booking with Alaska’s airline partners. In addition to the full suite of oneworld alliance members, the carrier has agreements with 17 other airlines. Partner redemption pricing is also shifting to be calculated as one-way sectors so guests can mix and match which airlines they’re flying. This will allow passengers so much more flexibility in terms of which destinations they can reach on a single ticket across multiple carriers.

There will further be a boost in the number of premium economy award seats available, with redemption prices starting at just 30% more than economy (6,000 miles one way) and less than half the previous redemption minimum of 12,500. Redemptions in business class are available from 9,000 miles each way, down from 20,000.

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Alaska Airlines’ three busiest hopes are on the west coast and are separated by relatively short distances.

While Alaska Airline’s Mileage Plan is notable for not having blackout dates for redemptions, there are still a few caveats. Award flights with both an origin and destination wholly outside the United States must be booked at least 72 hours before departure. All flights also include taxes and carrier-imposed fees that start from $5.60 per person each way.

More to come in 2024

Further program enhancement includes access to increase award inventory on 10% of partner routes covering more than 370 global destinations. This year, Alaska is also expected to introduce its promised global partner award sales, which change quarterly and feature special pricing of “Up to 50% off specific partners, routes, or destinations.”

The airline will continue to offer its free stopover program. The addition of simpler partner redemptions allows passengers to spend up to two weeks in an Alaska or partner hub to or from their final destination. This has long been a favorite of frequent flyers to combine several cities on one trip, so it is a relief to see the program will remain.

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Members of the combined frequent flyer program will be able to earn and redeem miles on a greater choice of carriers and routes worldwide.

One destination potentially set to become the airline’s second-largest hub is Honolulu. Speaking at the J.P Morgan Industrials Conference today, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci noted how important loyalty is to the potential merger with Hawaiian Airlines and connecting its frequent flyers to the US East Coast and beyond:

“We believe there’s a big opportunity for us and for Hawaiians to have one loyalty card in their wallet for their one-stop needs to take them out of continental U.S. and also internationally with our 25 global partners that we have partnerships with.”

Horizon Air E175

Photo: Alaska Airlines 

Minicucci confirmed the carrier is currently compiling information for the Department of Justice, which it expects to deliver in May. Allowing the next update on the merger from the department to arrive in June.



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