Alaska Airlines has had some pretty terrible moments in the past – the overnight devaluation of the Emirates award chart or the rather odd decision to buy Virgin America in the first place for an outrageous 2.6bn. I admit I was not a fan.
However the way Alaska Airlines and Mileage Plan are going about the merger is pretty awesome. They did hire a media agency that plaster the Bay Area with rather amusing banners (there is a new one every day). And now the details of the loyalty program changes are out – and it’s great news (unless you are a hard core Delta flyer).
Not a big surprise – you can now match you status in any of the programs into the other.
Alaska Airlines will run a 1 Virgin America Elevate Point transfer into 1.3 Alaska Miles. I think we all expected 1.5 or 2 but 1.3 is not terrible either.
Even better Starwood Transfers – access First Calls awards for less
For the time being you can now transfer Starwood points into Virgin Elevate and on to Alaska Mileage Plan miles. 40,000 Starwood points will now yield 65,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles. Enough for a one-way Cathay Pacific First Class award.
It seems clear nobody uses Alaska Mileage Plan miles for short haul redemptions and Alaska has reduced to levels needed. I still feel Avios is the better choice for such a flight (they are a transfer partner of almost all transferable programs on a 1:1 basis).
Also award redemptions are usually only available on Alaska if the lowest fare bucket is available (that has also been true for Virgin). That also means you ‘CPM’ will be low.
Delta and Alaska will formally go separate ways. That’s a good riddance in my eyes as this way more restraining than helpful. I can see Alaska become a full Oneworld partner over the next few years now.
Earn at least one miles per mile flown (much better than Virgin America Elevate).
That is a complete surprise – likely this won’t last long but Premium Cabin travel that is credited to Alaska on most partner airlines gets a 100% bonus now. WOW.
In summary I’m quite impressed – lot’s of smart changes that show Alaska is (still) listening to customers unlike the US Big 3. With all those recent changes it seems there is no major award chart devaluation in store (Alaska maintains one chart per partner oddly enough).