Alaska / American partnership devalued on Jan 1, 2018 [Award chart changes]

Alaska announced a devaluation of their partnership with American a few days ago. The major changes are related to how flight credit is earned. For domestic travel, you have to fly American on an Alaska codeshare to earn Alaska miles. Similarly, you need to fly Alaska on American codeshares to earn miles/credit with American’s AAdvantage program. Elites for both programs also lose access to preferred seating, priority check-in, and extra bags on each other’s airlines. This was to be expected given that Virgin America serves many of the big routes that American served. International travel on American airlines will still earn Alaska miles, which also makes sense since Alaska/Virgin are primarily a domestic carrier.

But many of our readers don’t have frequent flyer statuses and are instead earnings Alaska miles via offers and credit cards. So the most relevant change here is the devaluation of American flights on Alaska. Here is the new chart, effective Jan 1, 2018:

Domestic business/first class awards get cheaper, and nearly everything else gets more expensive. It’s nearly impossible to find American saver awards in business class these days, so the devaluation to Asia/Europe is basically irrelevant since there’s no availability. The first class awards to Asia for example make no sense since you can fly Cathay F for 70K miles, so why would you want to fly American F for 80k/110k??

This does make Mileage Plan less attractive for American flyers. Personally I use Alaska MP for international travel and fly a variety of people domestically, so this isn’t a huge deal. I also would look at American miles to redeem on American flights first since they are less valuable than Alaska miles, so the devaluation isn’t a major issue. Nonetheless, it will be more difficult to earn Alaska status now. My prediction is that fewer American flyers will credit to Alaska now because the codeshares are significantly pricier in a lot of markets, so that should reduce the number of elites and expand redemption availability on Alaska. In theory you’ll see a drop in American redemption on Alaska, but there was no good J/F international availability anyways, so no loss there.


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