Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan was a big dissappointment this month. While redemptions that did exsist were decent, availability was terrible, only 50.63%. Accordingly, this month’s valuation took a big hit. After all calculations were complete, we ended up with an ACRV of just $0.0065 per Mileage Plan mile. This is a sharp decline from the plan’s previous valuation, $0.0105.
|US Domestic Value||$0.0069|
|US Domestic Non-zero Average||0.0118|
|International Non-zero Average||0.0291|
|Overall Non-zero Average||$0.0204|
As is the case with most award redemptions, the greatest ROI is going to come from international premium cabin travel. Despite not having much of an international presence, Alaska does codeshare book on many other carriers, most notably, American, British Airways and Emirates.
One particularly frustrating aspect of Alaska’s booking system is the fact that they advertise premium cabin award availability so long as there is a single leg in the advertised cabin. In other words, a flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong would be presented as a first class award if the San Francisco to LA positioning flight was in first, even if the LAX to HKG leg were in coach. To be fair, many carriers do this, but Alaska seems to do it more often than not. In my opinion, this is false advertising.
Though international award availability was generally dismal, we did find a bit of a sweet spot. While not normally included in our evaluations, Alaska offers premium economy award seats on some partner airlines. For only 5K additional miles over the price of coach, one is able to book a seat in Qantas’ premium economy cabin. Just for fun, we priced this exact itinerary, and found it to cost $2,103.00. If one were to book at the price below, they would be getting a redemption value of $0.0432/mile.
The table above doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Most awards are in our acceptable/terrible categories and only a handful in the upper tiers. Our best for the month was actually an exceptional redemption. A first class award seat was offered between Dallas and London for 85,000 miles + $19.00 in fees. The lowest priced cash alternative was $7,026, providing a award value of $0.0824 per mile. We’d be proud of that.
We’re really hoping that as we move through the peak summer travel season availability stabilizes and picks back up. If not the value of Alaska’s Mileage Plan is on a very bad tragectory.