Why I am giving up my loyalty to Alaska Airlines

Why I am giving up my loyalty to Alaska Airlines

Part 1 of a series where I debate the pros and cons of staying loyal to Alaska Airlines.  

This past year has seen a number of negative changes to Alaska Airlines.  It is no secret that I have been an extremely loyal customer to Alaska Airlines and write extensively about the airline.  However, these changes are positioning Alaska in line with the major three US Airlines (Delta, United, American).  It is a shame that they are no longer the last great airline that is north of expected.

Reason 1: Saver Fares

Alaska Airlines will introduce Saver Fares this fall.  Saver Fares, which I wrote about here, are Alaska’s version of Basic Economy.  While details are still to be announced, a Saver Fare ticket will likely get you a middle seat in the back of the plane, board last, and not get the standard elite benefits.  Alaska confirmed with me that you will still be able to bring a carry on and earn miles; though I am confident it will be at a less than 100% earn rate (meaning instead of earning one mile for each mile flown, it might be more like earning one mile for every four miles flown; which is similar to all of their partner airline earn rates except Qantas which is still always at least 1:1 earning rate).

While Alaska will surely market the Saver Fare as a great option for those looking for a cheaper ticket; the reality is that Saver Fares will likely match historical price points of the current Coach tickets — just with less benefits.  The price for a standard Economy ticket will likely go up.  At least this is likely Alaska’s plan; otherwise there wouldn’t be much point in introducing this new fare class.

Reason 2: No More Price Guarantee

Prior to September 1, 2018, Alaska had one of the best Price Guarantees of any airline.  If the price of your ticket dropped, you could apply for a credit of the difference.  I have saved literally hundreds of dollars over the past few years with this.

Those with elite status (MVP Gold and above) can still cancel their reservation and re-book it at the lower fee, but that is a bit of a pain and just makes Alaska a less consumer friendly company.

Reason 3: No More Free Ticket Change

Again, prior to September 1, Alaska allowed free changes to your ticket as long as you were 60+ days out from the flight.  Now it will cost $125 per ticket.  In addition, Alaska has raised the same day change fee from $25 to $50, meaning if you want to hop on an earlier flight home, it will cost you double.  MVP Gold elites and higher will still be able to make changes for free.

Reason 4: Devalued Award Tickets

One of my favorite perks of using Alaska Mileage Plan miles was the ability to double dip the awards.  If I wanted to fly SFO to SEA, I could add on a second leg, say SEA to SLC for no extra miles.  Alaska considered this all one ticket, even if the two legs were separated by months in between.  Now Alaska’s award tickets are based on distance.  So instead of paying for one ticket, you are being charged the full mileage distance of the ticket (SFO-SEA-SLC).  There are still some great deals to be had especially on short flights (SFO-SEA can be found for 5,000 miles one way), but I miss the “free” flights that came with booking award tickets on Alaska.

Reason 5: Lost Domestic Airline Partners

It used to be that you could earn both elite qualifying and redeemable Alaska Airlines miles on both Delta and American Airlines.  I earned miles on cheap flights with Delta and American.  Now Alaska earning is dead on Delta (and on it Delta siblings KLM and Air France).  Earning on American Airlines is still possible but greatly reduced.  Domestic flights on American earn zero miles and elite benefits no longer transfer.

Or will I stay loyal?

Now that I’ve laid out the reasons why I am giving up my loyalty to Alaska Airlines, read why I am continuing my loyalty to Alaska Airlines.

6 thoughts on “Why I am giving up my loyalty to Alaska Airlines”

    • Thanks for reading! I am actually working on my second post at this moment. I hope to have it up tomorrow or this weekend at the latest. Make sure you follow me on Twitter (if you don’t already); I’ll post when it goes live.

      What is your biggest frustration with Alaska Airlines at the moment?

  1. Alaska is currently a strange mix. A few outstanding people who know what Alaska once was and are saddened deeply with what it has become, and a ton of new hires with energy, a sense of what’s unit for me and they are just customers. New hires don’t know or care about when Alaska did differentiate itselfanddid not race to the bottom of the industry. My last 2 communications to senior management never received acknowledgement or response even when voice mail was left on execs personal voice mail. Leadership by example nuff said

  2. There are still some weird quirks with the Alaska award pricing. For instance, I booked OAK-SEA-BOI for 5,000 miles just a couple weeks ago, including a 3-night stopover in Seattle. I’d previously posited that routes where Alaska flies nonstop, you could still pull this off. However, this one breaks the theory. They do fly SMF-BOI (which is where we’re actually returning).

    I’m hoping there are still some decent options for these awards, but Alaska has done a good job of removing the real winners. It is a far cry from the amazing stuff you could do when these first rolled out.


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