I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about as of now, for those who don’t, basically Alaska Airlines increased redemption rates on Emirates overnight. Some awards in Emirates First Class went up by as much as 100%… that’s insane. Overnight. With no advance notice.
Where do I begin?
I live in Seattle and it’s no secret that I occasionally fly Alaska Airlines (mainly using Avios on short flights since they’ve got a great route network from Seattle). They are also considered a respected airline in the Pacific Northwest because of how much they claim to be “Seattle’s Hometown Airline” and how much they “care” about their customers in that they aren’t a “normal” airline – they’re kind of a mix of a traditional airline and a low-cost one. Regardless of what happened today, I’m sure most people will continue to love Alaska… at least those outside of the miles and points “game”.
I understand devaluations, I get it. It isn’t a secret that airlines are massive corporations hungry for money – we’ve seen an increase in fees charged over the past few years ranging from seat assignments, checked bag fees, upgrade fees, etc. However when we’re talking about a loyalty programme – we usually expect some benefits in exchange for our loyalty to a specific airline or alliance.
One aspect of a loyalty programme is the fact that it is unethical for airlines to make changes overnight to their miles. Why? Because that exactly defeats the purpose of a “loyalty” programme – how can you sleep at night knowing that your miles might be half as valuable the next day? This is what many woke up to today, including me.
I have well over 100k miles in my Alaska Airlines account, and now I’m burning those miles as fast as I can. Why? Because an airline that makes such a drastic change overnight without any advance notice doesn’t deserve my loyalty.
I’m not angry because Alaska changed their award chart for travel on Emirates. I get that, Emirates First Class is extremely popular using Alaska Airlines miles because of how easy it is to acquire those miles. Hell, I mean you can get the Bank of America credit card every three months and get the sign-up bonus every time.. you don’t even need to make a purchase!
I’m angry and frustrated because an airline that promises to be “North of Expected” and that “cares about their customers” made a drastic change overnight without any advance notice. They basically made their miles worth half of what they were worth yesterday. This isn’t how a loyalty programme should work.
I applaud American Airlines for giving us months of advance notice before their recent devaluation earlier this month – this made many of us jump on booking awards that would significantly go up in the future. Providing advance notice in major award chart changes is a top priority… that is of course unless you want to lose your customers.
I’m not just talking about the bloggers and people who were only using Alaska for travel on Emirates. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have top-tier MVP Gold 75K status with Alaska and they’re terrified this happened overnight… why? Because this makes them now wonder what their miles and status will be worth tomorrow… or if it will be worth anything at all.
It is truly funny that this happened now, right as I was about to switch my some of my domestic flying to Alaska Airlines.. something that I won’t be doing anymore. Screw it. An airline that makes a dramatic change overnight without any notice doesn’t deserve my loyalty. If redemption rates went up 10-20% overnight, I would get that and not be so angry – but as much as 100% is ridiculous and unethical – especially since they’re running a “buy miles” promotion. Wasn’t Alaska’s aspiration to not be like Delta? They sure acted like Delta today.
So where will I credit my upcoming Alaska Airlines flights? Probably to American Airlines or British Airways… but I doubt it will be Mileage Plan. So many people are frantically booking Cathay Pacific awards today (including me).. because who knows… tomorrow Cathay awards might increase by 200%.
It sure isn’t the brightest day today in the miles and points world (even though the weather in Seattle right now is absolutely gorgeous).
I’m really, really disappointed in you Alaska Airlines… I thought you were different and not like the others, but I guess a “corporation” is a corporation and revenue is the most important, not loyal passengers.
As for better Emirates First Class award redemptions? We’ll find a way, we always have.