Devaluation: Alaska Mileage Plan increases award rates for Japan Airlines without notice

Alaska Airlines Mileage plan has increased award rates for flights on Japan Airlines (only), without prior notice.

Just a few months ago, the frequent flyer program “hinted” on a devaluation but ended up not affecting any sweet spot routes.

Alaska Mileage Plan Devaluation

Here’s how Alaska miles award redemptions on Japan Airlines have changed:

RouteMiles Required
(Economy)
Miles Required
(Business)
Within Asia15k
17.5k – 25k*
25k
30k – 50k*
Asia –
North America
40k
57.5k
65k
100k

*Award rates depend on the distance between departing and arriving city. For example, Singapore to Jakarta (via Tokyo) costs 30k miles, while Singapore to Japan/Korea/India costs 50k miles. (H/T: Eric from Suitesmile Chat)

Fly from Singapore to Japan for 50k Alaska miles

Not everyone sees the joy of flying the long way from Singapore to Jakarta via Tokyo, but for what it’s worth, this is possible for just 30k Alaska miles, a mere 5k mileage increment from before.

Fly from Singapore to Jakarta (via Tokyo) for 30k Alaska miles
Subscribe to Suitesmile on Telegram
to be the first to know about amazing
deals and travel hacks. It's FREE!
Subscribe

How bad is this devaluation?

Let’s be real, redeeming 25k miles for intra-Asia flights has always been an amazing sweet spot and it is borderline shocking that it lasted this long.

However, an award devaluation without notice is always going to leave a bad taste among loyalty members. If I hadn’t cleared out my Alaska miles before the previous “hint”, I would be really unhappy too.

Quick refresher of the award rates of other frequent flyer programs, for a one-way Business Class flight between Singapore and Japanese cities:

Frequent Flyer
Program
AirlineMiles & Fees
MileageLandsEva Air25k
(+US$95)
Asia MilesCathay
Pacific
45k
(+US$162)
KrisflyerSingapore
Airlines
52k
(+US$46)

Besides, a 100% increase in award rates is pretty hard to swallow, especially when Alaska miles cannot be easily earned in Singapore (and the region) and purchasing Alaska miles costs substantially more than others.

Why Alaska miles are still useful

Reminder: This devaluation only affects miles redemptions on Japan Airlines.

It’s easy to blow this no-notice devaluation out of proportion and forget some great perks/benefits of the frequent flyer program:

  1. There are still great sweet spots to redeem Alaska miles (you can still fly to Japan/Korea for 22.5k miles in Business Class!)
  2. No fuel-surcharges on all award bookings
  3. Members usually earn more miles when crediting to Alaska (vs other FFPs), when flying with partner airlines
  4. Members can often access Singapore Airlines award seats on Mileage Plan, when they are not available on Krisflyer
  5. Still requires fewer miles for award redemptions on key routes
  6. Low-maintenance FFP with easily-extendable miles expiry term
  7. Free unlimited changes and cancellations on award bookings, regardless of status
I recently flew from Manila to Delhi (via Tokyo) in Japan Airlines Business Class for just 25k miles (read my review)

What should you do, if you have a lot of Alaska miles right now?

Again, there are still some fantastic sweet spots to redeem your Alaska miles for.

However, because Mileage Plan is now in my naughty list of loyalty programs that make unannounced devaluations, I would look into redeeming those existing miles at my earliest convenience.

Got at least 12.5k miles? Go redeem for a one-way Cathay Pacific Economy Class flight to North Asia.

Got at least 22.5k miles? Go redeem for a one-way Cathay Pacific Business Class flight to North Asia.

Got at least 65k miles? Go redeem for a one-way Singapore Airlines Business Class flight to Australia/New Zealand.

Redeem just 22.5k miles for Business Class flights to/from Japan/Korea

Alaska Mileage Plan sweet spots

Here are the remaining Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan sweet spots, after the Japan Airlines devaluation:

Region 1Region 2AirlineClassMiles
AsiaAsiaEconomy12.5k
Business22.5k
North
America
Economy30k
Business50k
First70k
Economy42.5k
Business85k
EuropeEconomy32.5k
Business60k
South
Pacific
Economy30k
Business65k
TaipeiHanoi,
Manila,
Ho Chi Minh,
Seoul,
Tokyo,
Okinawa,
Osaka,
Fukuoka
Economy7.5k
Business15k
Los AngelesEconomy20k
Business60k
Hong
Kong
New
Zealand
Business30k
South
Pacific
North
America
Business55k
New
Zealand
North
America
Business60k
South
Africa
North
America
Business62.5k
First70k

Should you continue to accumulate Alaska miles?

Personally, because of still-existing Cathay Pacific sweet spots, I would continue to credit my revenue flights to Alaska, while keeping my mileage balance low from now on.

While I still see value in the frequent flyer program, I simply cannot trust one that makes unannounced devaluations like these (looking at you too, Etihad Guest and Privilege Club).

By continuing to accumulate Alaska miles I need to always have a near-term redemption plan in mind, on one of those sweet spots.

I can also purchase additional miles, if required, during one of Mileage Plan regular sales. While also keeping in mind that I would need to purchase at least 40k miles (incl. bonuses) to unlock those bonus tiers.

Subscribe to Suitesmile on Telegram
to be the first to know about amazing
deals and travel hacks. It's FREE!
Subscribe

Bottom line

It is disappointing that Mileage Plan chose to devalue Japan Airlines award rates without notice. The Cathay Pacific sweet spots are my only reasons to stay invested in this frequent flyer program.

However, members should expect that to be devalued too, sooner rather than later.

P.S. What is up with all these loyalty programs devaluing their award charts, while still selling miles/points at the same pre-valuation rates?

1 thought on “Devaluation: Alaska Mileage Plan increases award rates for Japan Airlines without notice”

  1. Thank you for reporting so thoroughly on this. I’m happy to read that the “Joyride” survived and, checking schedules a few months out, see SGN-CGK (via NRT) for 35k in J — availability as infrequent as it was before this devaluation, but still alive! That’s a pretty sweet deal, c’mon. Couldn’t stand the pessimistic tone with which Loyalty Lobby reported on this devaluation but was equally annoyed OMAAT didn’t even cover it. Anyway, for me, your blog is head and shoulders above those websites. Keep up the great work.

    Reply

Leave a Comment