|Update: Alaska has updated its mileage earning page, and now no longer reflects this change. A spokesperson tells me that “there are changes coming to our Saver fares, but there are no immediate changes to earn rates on those fares.” So we’ll have to stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, you can find the original post below.|
Alaska Mileage Plan, which is the only major US frequent flyer program to still reward miles based on how far you fly rather than how much you spend, has just implemented a nasty no-notice devaluation. Thanks to @olouie for flagging this.
Alaska cuts Saver fare mileage earning by 70%
Up until now, Alaska Mileage Plan has awarded at least 100% redeemable miles and elite qualifying miles for all fare classes when flying with Alaska. That policy has changed overnight, without any advance notice. Effective immediately, Mileage Plan is only awarding 30% redeemable and elite qualifying miles for tickets in the “X” fare class, which is Alaska’s Saver fare bucket.
Saver fares are Alaska’s version of basic economy, which comes with additional restrictions. These fares only allow you to assign seats at check-in, don’t allow any changes, etc. Fortunately Alaska is continuing to award a minimum of 100% miles on all other fare classes.
It’s also interesting to note that the same reduced mileage earning rate applies to flights marketed by Alaska and operated by American.
This change is disappointing but not surprising
I think it goes without saying that this is a disappointing change. The change was made without any advance notice. Alaska used to be good about providing notice about changes, but that’s not the case anymore.
Furthermore, Alaska has long marketed that when you fly with the airline “you’ll earn one mile for every actual mile flown.” I guess the airline needs to update its marketing in that regard, since this is no longer accurate. Ironically that’s still promoted on the page showing mileage earning rates, where you can also see the new 30% rates.
All that being said, the change isn’t necessarily that unreasonable, at least in the scheme of what airlines do. Several airlines offer reduced mileage earning for basic economy fares, so it has always been quite generous that Alaska hasn’t.
Interestingly American AAdvantage recently considerably cut mileage earning for Alaska Saver fares, from 25% to 10%. I suppose the writing was on the wall that Mileage Plan might make a similar change, to avoid too much of an arbitrage opportunity. As of 2023, AAdvantage also cut mileage earning rates for American basic economy fares by 60%.
Alaska Mileage Plan has cut mileage earning rates on Saver fares from 100% to 30%. This applies to both redeemable and elite qualifying miles, so it’s quite the devaluation. Alaska has long marketed how you earn at least one mile for every mile flown, but that’s no longer the case. It’s the end of an era for mileage programs in the United States, as there are no longer any programs awarding 100% miles for all fares.
What do you make of this Alaska Mileage Plan change?