Alaska’s Public Response to Emirates Devaluation
This morning the news broke that Alaska Airlines had raised redemption rates on Emirates first class between 67-100% depending on the region. Business class rates were also increased and all of this came without any notice to members. I covered the differences this morning in greater detail.
All day the Alaska Airlines Twitter account has been receiving complaints and for much of the day this was the only response:
@LGpoints I will share your concerns- Andre
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) March 31, 2016
Eventually they did start to answer questions and now they have posted a Q&A on their blog with some more information. Among the interesting tidbits is the answer to, “Why Is Mileage Plan making this change?” Here is their explanation:
Alaska’s premium Emirates awards have long been known as an exceptionally good deal. With the rise of “travel-hacking,” intended to exploit Mileage Plan’s award routing rules, coupled with below-market award levels, our previous award levels were unsustainable. The new award levels enable Alaska to continue to offer Emirates Business Class and First Class as a redemption option.
As for why they couldn’t communicate this in advance:
Given the dynamics of this particular award, we were unable to announce changes in advance. This approach doesn’t represent a new normal. Our policy is to communicate significant program changes with at least 30 days’ notice when at all possible.
In other words, they knew people would suddenly start booking a ton of awards that would cost them money and thus decided to implement this without allowing that to happen. Gotta love their “policy”.
Buy Miles Promotion
Alaska is currently offering a 40% bonus on purchasing their miles. A lot of people bought miles with the intention on using them for an Emirates premium cabin redemption. Fortunately it seems Alaska is going to refund anyone who wants to get their money back.
If you purchased miles on or after March 1, 2016, you can contact our Customer Care team for a refund.
Finally, what if you have been saving miles for one of these redemptions? Well, Alaska says you are out of luck, but you can still book on their partners.
You’ll continue to have access to awards in premium cabins on our other partners with coverage to most of the same destinations. Future changes, if any, to these award levels will be given with advance notice.
You can read the full Q&A including a quote from Alaska’s Managing Director of loyalty marketing for more information. The only good thing I can say about this response is that at least they are refunding people who purchased miles. I’m glad to see that, but I am still not convinced that this change couldn’t have happened with at least some notice and furthermore I don’t trust that Alaska won’t do it again despite what they say their “policy” is.
What do you think about this response? Do you feel better about the whole thing or does it make you angrier that they blame travel hacking and went against their policy of giving notice?