Mixed Bag: Alaska Airlines Makes Changes to Saver Fares Mixed Bag: Alaska Airlines Makes Changes to Saver Fares

Mixed Bag: Alaska Airlines Makes Changes to Saver Fares

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Alaska Airlines debuted its own version of basic economy in 2018. Dubbed Saver fares, these tickets face similar restrictions you'd see on other airlines: no cancellations, no upgrades for elite members, no ability to pick seats, etc.

Today, however, Alaska Airlines has announced some pretty big changes to its Saver fares as of May 22, 2023 — and not all of them are bad. Let's take a look.

Changes to Alaska Airlines Saver Fares

Alaska Airlines Saver fares benefits screenshot

Usually, when an airline makes adjustments to its ticketing practices, it's the customer who loses out. However, while there are definitely negatives this, there are some surprising positive changes coming our way.

Positive Changes

Interestingly, we see more positives than negatives for these changes to Saver fares:

  • Those with Alaska Airlines elite status (MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K) will be eligible for complimentary upgrades. In the past, elites booking Saver fares weren't entitled to the complimentary upgrades offered by their status. Now, upgrades to both Premium and first class will start clearing within two hours of departure.
  • From July 19, 2023, Saver fares will become partially refundable. Currently, all Saver fares are completely inflexible; once booked, you'll lose your money if you need to cancel. Starting in July, if canceled more than 14 days in advance, customers will receive a 50% refund of their base fare plus 100% of the taxes and fees that they've paid.

Negative Changes

Are you ready for this? There's just one downside to Alaska's update, but it's a big one. Starting May 22, 2023, Saver fares will stop earning 100% elite qualifying and bonus miles, instead earning just 30% EQMs and bonus miles.

This is a doozy. Alaska is one of the last domestic airlines with which you earn miles based on distance flown (not based on how much you paid for the ticket), and this change in Saver fares constitutes its first step away from such a promise. A 70% drop in earnings is significant and will make earning elite status much more difficult for those flying on Saver tickets.

You can see detailed earning rates for each fare class at the updated chart here.

Bottom Line

Alaska has announced changes to its Saver fares, and it's a surprisingly mixed bag here. While it's great that elite members will be eligible for upgrades and that partial refunds will be possible, the loss of 70% of your earnings is devastating. If you're already a Mileage Plan elite member and don't mind earning status elsewhere (perhaps with a partner?), then this change is certainly for the better. But if you've long relied on low-cost Saver fares to bump you up to elite status, this could be enough to push you into purchasing those increasingly-expensive Main Cabin fares.

5 / 5 - (1 vote)
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