Today Alaska Airlines announced a few major changes to its Mileage Plan. First, the Seattle-based airline is upping the loyalty game by making its award-winning Mileage Plan more generous with the announcement of four flier-friendly enhancements. Second, its relationship with Delta Air Lines will end April 30, 2017.
So what does all this mean for travelers? Alaska Airlines’ Charles Breer, managing director of alliances, and Ryan Butz, managing director of loyalty marketing, have the answers.
Tell us about the enhancements to Mileage Plan. What do these changes mean for Alaska Airlines customers?
Ryan Butz: At Alaska Airlines, we’re doubling down and remaining committed to our miles-based program. While many other airlines are heading in a different direction and simply looking at how much people spend, we’re focused on rewarding people across the board for how much they fly. That means:
- We’ve lowered our lowest award tier so Mileage Plan members can now book award travel on Alaska Airlines flights using as few as 5,000 miles.
- We’ve bumped up mileage earnings on flights in business or first class on 10 global partners by up to 80 percent.
- Also, elite members now are eligible for complimentary upgrades on award travel on Alaska-operated flights when they book main cabin tickets.
- Our recent combination with Virgin America means they now are added to the list of airlines where you can earn elite-qualifying Alaska Mileage Plan miles
For additional details about enhancements to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, visit boundlessfreebies.com/gamechanger.
How can I locate these new, lower redemption Alaska Airlines flights?
Ryan Butz: Nothing has changed with how you book award travel on boundlessfreebies.com. We’ve just lowered our award tier pricing so that you can book award travel using fewer miles on Alaska Airlines flights. As with flights purchased with cash, there are a limited number of seats available at each price or mileage point. If you search and don’t see a flight available at the lowest level, it simply means that those seats have already sold out for that route.
Here are some one-way flight examples to give you an idea.
Does that mean there will be fewer award seats available?
Ryan Butz: No, we’re committed to maintaining the same high levels of award availability.
Why is the relationship with Delta Air Lines ending?
Charles Breer: This should come as no surprise as our relationship has become increasingly competitive over the last few years. Given our own growth and expansion, Alaska Airlines now can take people virtually anywhere they need to go. We’ve grown tremendously and with the recent acquisition of Virgin America, we’re now the fifth largest airline in the U.S. We offer more nonstop West Coast departures than any other airline. And, along with our extensive global partner network, you can seamlessly travel to more than 900 destinations worldwide.
Bottom line – if you live and work on the West Coast, Alaska Airlines is your airline.
What about Alaska Airlines partnerships with other SkyTeam Alliance members?
Charles Breer: It continues to be business as usual with our other airline partners who are in the SkyTeam alliance, which includes airlines like Korean Air, Air France and KLM. We also have great options with our other global partners.
If people want to continue booking through Alaska Airlines for travel on Delta Air Lines, how long can they do that?
Charles Breer: Through April 30, 2017, people can continue to book flights on Delta Air Lines through Alaska Airlines, as long as the travel occurs on or before April 30, 2017.
How long can people earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles by flying on Delta Air Lines flights?
Ryan Butz: If Mileage Plan members have already booked a flight on Delta Air Lines, they will still be able to earn Alaska miles for those flights. For members who are about to book travel, they would need to book and complete travel prior to April 30, 2017 to earn Alaska miles.
What about for customers interested in redeeming Mileage Plan miles for award travel on Delta Air Lines?
Ryan Butz: Mileage Plan members can continue to redeem miles for award travel on Delta Air Lines as long as the bookings occur before April 30, 2017. However, it is important to note that for travel after April 30, 2017, travelers will need to work directly with the operating carrier to address and accommodate any customer-initiated changes.