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I’m sure you guys have heard the news…

According to Point me to the Plane and others, Alaska Airlines had closed off its award tickets on Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Hainan Airlines starting February 8th.  In the blogging world and the Twittersphere, Alaska’s action was met by quite a bit of fire, understandably.  Many folks probably remembered Alaska’s last major devaluation, gutting their Emirates sweet spots almost two years ago, and got a little nervous.

It turns out that Alaska was looking to curb fraud on these tickets, be disabling the ability to book within 72 hours of departure.  Ok, that seems reasonable, right?  Sure.  The thing is, there’s plenty of other ways they could have handled the situation.  Two factor authentication.  Require booking over the phone to confirm a passcode.

a plane on the runway

But wait!  There’s good news too:  you can still book partner redemptions with MileagePlan miles on those three airlines.  Woohoo!  Where’s the catch?  Alaska has rescinded the full restriction in favor of a 72 hour restriction on intra-Asia flights on Hainan, Japan, and Cathay Pacific.  For anyone traveling within Asia, make sure you book your flights in advance…if you can.

See, Alaska doesn’t get access to most of those great first class Cathay Pacific seats until last minute anyway.  With Alaska’s new time restriction, it’s even more complicated to use your miles on one of these bucket-list flights.

Rumor has it that Delta has instituted similar policies, and award seats are curiously lacking from many of their partner routes.

What do you think?  Will we see a future where airlines stop allowing partner redemptions altogether?  Or is my inner conspiracy theorist just coming out again?

Hat tip to Point me to the Plane and One Mile at a Time.

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