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Alaska Airlines has been busy this month announcing new nonstop services, including thirteen from San Francisco Bay Area and six from San Diego. On the other hand, it quietly removed the Premium Economy redemption on its global partner Japan Airlines.
Japan Airlines awards became available using Alaska MileagePlan miles early December last year. Below was the original redemption chart:
For 5,000 more miles than coach, JAL premium economy is an awesome value. it is a big step-up from coach at very little incremental cost for the 14-hour flight from New York to Tokyo, or even the 10-hour flight from Tokyo to San Francisco. And you can continue from Tokyo to other parts of Asia without additional miles! JAL also offers upgrade from coach to premium economy for $300 when you check in at the airport. But I bet anyone would be happy to pay 5,000 miles instead of $300 cash!
Last month I was monitoring the award seats for my sister-in-law, who will be flying JAL from New York to Tokyo this month. I noticed that premium economy was pricing as business class at 60,000 miles one-way. I thought it was odd, and the Alaska rep couldn’t explain it either. But as of this past week, Alaska quietly removed the premium economy redemption on JAL! Here’s what the award chart looks like now online:
That is a real bummer that you can no longer redeem Alaska miles for JAL premium economy awards. Fortunately, Alaska did not remove the premium economy redemption on Cathay Pacific and British Airways, although most people avoid booking British Airways awards due to fuel charges.