Alaska Mileage Plan No-Notice Devaluation of Japan Airlines Awards Alaska Mileage Plan No-Notice Devaluation of Japan Airlines Awards

Alaska Mileage Plan No-Notice Devaluation of Japan Airlines Awards

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It's been a rough month for points and miles travelers. Several mileage programs have made no-notice devaluations to award pricing — from ANA first class awards booked through Flying Club to Brex Rewards redemptions. Now, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is joining the list of airlines making customer-unfriendly moves with a massive devaluation to Japan Airlines award redemptions.

Like with other recent devaluations, Alaska Airlines did not provide Mileage Plan members with any notice about these changes — neither in advance of the changes nor since the changes were made earlier this week. These no-notice devaluations are exactly what we feared when Alaska “simplified” its award chart in January 2023.

Alaska Airlines Devaluation of Japan Airlines Awards

For many years, Japan Airlines awards have been a sweet spot of the Alaska Mileage Plan program. Travelers could book flights from the U.S. to Tokyo for a solid 35,000 miles each way in economy, an excellent 60,000 miles in business class, or an awesome 70,000 miles in first class. Even better, travelers could connect onward in Asia for few to no additional miles.

Now, Alaska Mileage Plan has replaced its simple award chart for Japan Airlines with a slew of new rates, depending on where you're starting and ending. Here's a quick recap — with more details below:

RouteCabinBeforeAfter% Increase
San Francisco to TokyoEconomy35,00035,0000%
San Francisco to TokyoBusiness Class60,00060,0000%
San Francisco to TokyoFirst Class70,00085,00021%
Dallas to TokyoEconomy35,00045,00029%
Dallas to TokyoBusiness Class60,00080,00033%
Dallas to TokyoFirst Class70,000100,00043%
Dallas to DelhiEconomy35,00057,50064%
Dallas to DelhiBusiness Class60,000100,00067%
Tokyo to SingaporeEconomy15,00025,00067%
Tokyo to SingaporeBusiness Class25,00050,000100%

Alaska Mileage Plan Awards Between U.S. and Japan

The new Alaska Mileage Plan award rates for flights from the U.S. to Japan are now based on where you're flying from. The hardest hits are to flights from the central and eastern U.S.

For example, awards from Dallas/Fort Worth to Tokyo now cost 45,000 miles in economy (29% increase), 80,000 miles in business class (33% increase), or 100,000 miles in first class (43% increase):

Alaska Mileage Plan award pricing on Japan Airlines from Dallas to Tokyo after devaluation

Similarly, you'll need to pay 100,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles to fly first class from Tokyo to New York:

Alaska Mileage Plan award pricing on Japan Airlines from Tokyo to New York after devaluation

The only good news in this is that economy and business class awards from the U.S. West Coast to Tokyo are unaffected. At least for now, you can still book Japan Airlines from San Francisco to Tokyo for 35k in economy and 60k in business class:

Alaska Mileage Plan award from San Francisco to Tokyo on Japan Airlines after devaluation

Likewise, American Airlines awards on routes from the U.S. to Tokyo still cost the same as before: 35,000 miles in economy and 60,000 miles if you can find business class award availability.

American Airlines economy and business class awards using Alaska Mileage Plan miles

These increases aren't great, but the Alaska devaluation of Japan Airlines awards is even worse when you look at awards beyond Japan.

Japan Airlines Award Flights from Dallas to Delhi with a stopover in Tokyo

One of the best ways to maximize Alaska Mileage Plan awards is by booking a free stopover. Alaska even lets travelers book a free stopover on one-way awards. For example, you can book a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Delhi with a week-long stopover in Tokyo along the way.

Before this devaluation, this trip would cost 35,000 miles in economy or 60,000 miles in business class:

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Sweet Spots Dallas to Delhi with a stopover in Tokyo on Japan Airlines
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan award from Dallas to Delhi with a stopover in Tokyo on Japan Airlines. Pricing is before this week's devaluation.

After this week's devaluation, the same award now costs 57,500 miles in economy or a whopping 100,000 miles in business class:

Current Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan award pricing from Dallas to Delhi with a stopover in Tokyo on Japan Airlines.

That's a 64% increase in the economy price and a 67% increase in the business class rate. Ouch!

The Worst-Hit Routes of This Alaska Airlines Devaluation

As flagged by MileLion, the worst devaluation percentage-wise is to a route that doesn't touch the United States. Intra-Asia business class flights have increased by as much as 100%. For example, Japan Airlines awards from Tokyo to Singapore increased from 15,000 to 25,000 miles in economy and 25,000 to 50,000 miles in business class:

Alaska Mileage Plan award from Tokyo to Singapore

Bottom Line

Et tu, Alaska Airlines? For years, we championed the Mileage Plan mileage program for offering flyer-friendly earning rates and published redemption rates. Alaska's move to “simply” its award chart in January 2023 was a red flag. But, we hoped that Alaska would live up to its promise to provide 90 days' notice for changes to partner awards.

Unfortunately, Alaska Mileage Plan is showing that it's no different than the others — making devaluations without notice and not sticking to its commitment to provide advanced notice. And that's what makes this devaluation particularly disappointing.

H/T: MilesTalk

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  • What about West Coast to Southeast Asia? If West Coast to Japan is unchanged, West Coast to Southeast Asia via Tokyo is additional 65K?

    • Ryan Smith says:

      Hi Nick, good point that these itineraries with a connection are affected. With the “starting from” model of pricing Alaska is using now, tickets can get expensive on popular dates.

  • My disappointment with Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan cannot be expressed in any civil terms. I could understand if Alaska cited inflation and raised the award costs modestly. But the business award was raised 33% and first award was raised 42%, that is way beyond the inflation rates. I am guessing that there was an increased focus of members redeeming for Japan awards. Which is definitely happening because Japan just opened to tourists 5 months ago. I also doubt this was alignment to oneworld carriers because the same awards have different mileage costs across the board. AA charges 60K for JAL business award. Unless this is a signal that AA will also raise their JAL awards?

    Back 7 years ago, Alaska did the same with Emirates awards. There was massive travel hacking attention to Alaska’s reasonable Emirates award costs. That attention brought on a fury of redemptions which caused Alaska to double the award costs with hardly any notice.

    But here’s the issue with Alaska. They are not in any way, a major player in US aviation. Alaska only services a handful of cities that no other US carriers provide service. I always felt that Alaska tries to compensate for their shortfalls and smaller footprint (like Hyatt) by offering a richer FF program. That Alaska, after joining oneworld, would still try to be unique. I guess I was gullibly wrong.