Alaska Airlines Devaluation Emirates Awards
Alaska Airlines absolutely gutted their award chart on partner Emirates with absolutely no notice. When I say gutted, I am not exaggerating. Let’s take a look at the old and new award chart side by side for travel to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
As you can, see first class awards were hit the hardest. First class from North America to Africa DOUBLED in price and awards to Asia and the MIddle East are significantly higher as well. As of now the award chart for flights to Europe looks exactly the same with first class costing 100K miles each way, however it seems that has been devalued too and the award chart is an error.
Despite what the award chart says, it appears that business class to Europe has increased from 75K to 105K and first class has increased from 100K to 180K as well. Another huge increase.
Loyalty Programs Are Not Loyal
This now brings me to the main point of this article. We really need to stop loving loyalty programs. Alaska Mileage Plan
has had one of the best reputations around and people always talk about what a great “value” their miles are. (And they do still have value.) I would even classify many people as beings fans of the program. It is one thing to like a company, but don’t think they are loyal to you.
What Alaska did today is flat out disloyal and wrong. It certainly isn’t illegal and they have a right to do it, but they showed a complete disrespect for the “loyalty” of their customers who have been earning and saving miles for redemptions. They made a fiduciary decision and decided it made sense to devalue their Emirates redemptions overnight instead of giving customers notice. I am sure it saved them a lot of money, but did it lose them “loyal” customers? I suspect they don’t believe it will make a difference or they wouldn’t have done it. Only time will tell.
How to Win In Loyalty
I spend a lot of time writing about how to maximize returns from loyalty programs. Most people don’t really pay much attention to the value they receive, which leaves openings for you and me to study the program’s rules. This is great and it is the only way to win at loyalty. It is you vs. the loyalty program. You vs. the company. Inefficiencies are part of life and we owe it to ourselves to find them and utilize them within the rules of the program.
Do you know why so many companies have loyalty programs now? It is because they make a lot of money. It is as simple as that. If the companies could strengthen their brand and make more money without the programs then they wouldn’t exist. Since their goal is to make money, then they will cut out routes/options that are inefficient when they discover them. We win by discovering them first. Remember, Alaska Airlines is as loyal as every other company which is to say they aren’t.
Emirates First Alternatives
I had planned to book an Emirates first flight for this fall very soon and thus I am obviously not happy with this development. While I do still have enough miles to book such an award, I’m not sure if it is worth spending at such a premium just to take a shower on board an airplane. Thankfully there are some alternative programs that also allow you to book Emirates awards. View from the Wing has a good rundown on which options are best.
To say I am disappointed in Alaska Airlines is an understatement. I don’t have an issue with the increases themselves (although they are drastic), but the lack of notice shows a complete disrespect for their customers and shows you that they are just like every other company. They are loyal when it suits them and only when it suits them. This is of course no surprise and so we move on.
What are your thoughts on loyalty and today’s huge increases for Alaska awards on Emirates? Let us know in the comments.