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This morning, the news broke that Alaska was making some fairly drastic changes to their Alaska Airlines MileagePlan program.  Many of these updates were related to changes precipitated by Alaska’s recently concluded merger with Virgin America.  You may have already seen some coverage of the Alaska changes by View from the Wing, One Mile at a Time, Travel Codex, Travel with Grant, and Mommy Points.

My 4 favorite Alaska Airlines changes

Overall, I think that the Alaska changes were a net positive – and here are my 4 favorite changes

1. Adding more reduced mileage awards

Alaska is pretty much completely going with a distance-based chart, and it’s pretty good.  From the official Alaska Air blog, here is their new chart

alaska-distance-based-award-chart

Unfortunately, this is only for Alaska metal, so partner awards will not be covered by this new chart.  I was hoping to use 5000 Alaska miles to fly something like CVG-ORD on American, but no go.

2. You can now earn Alaska miles on Virgin America flights

As of today, you can also now earn Alaska miles on Virgin America flights – from the Alaska / Virgin America FAQ page

alaska-earn-virgin-america

3. Increased earning on partners

When I first started in the miles and points world, I discounted Alaska Airlines because I live in the Alaska Airlines “dead zone” where they don’t fly (though they are adding a flight from IND-SEA in early 2017).  But that was before I realized the value of the many Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partners.  Before they devalued, I used 100,000 Alaska miles to fly Emirates First Class from SIN-DXB-JFK as part of my first class trip around the world

emirates-a380-first-class-review-suites-shower-clean

(SEE ALSO: Should you dress up while flying first class?)

You can now earn up to 250% flown miles on some Alaska partners, depending on the fare class.  You can check out the full details on Alaska’s Global Partners page.

4. You can now get upgraded on economy award tickets

The last big change is that if you are an Alaska elite flyer, you can now get upgraded on economy award tickets whereas previously you could not.  This is another big change if you live in a market that Alaska flies.  You can see the full details on the new Alaska upgrade policy here.

Aaaand… the one (big) negative

The big negative is that Alaska and Delta are terminating their relationship, effective April 30, 2017.  I don’t think anyone who has followed Delta’s buildup in Seattle is surprised to see this coming, but it’s a big loss to not be able to use your Alaska miles to fly Delta any more (even if it was easy to get bit by their no one-way pricing)

IMO though an even bigger loss is the ability to CREDIT Delta flights to earn Alaska miles – since Delta (along with American and United) both went revenue based as far as earning miles go, Alaska was an easy way for many passengers to still earn miles based on distance.  From Alaska’s site again,

alaska-earning-on-delta-flights

So any tickets on Delta flights already booked or tickets booked going forward for travel through April 30th will continue to be able to earn Alaska miles, while anything else will not.  Definitely a major bummer.

What was your biggest takeaway from the recent Alaska changes?

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