Alaska Air DEVALUATION – worse than Delta, United or American. All program TRUST is GONE!

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I feel so sorry for Alaska elites!

What a horrible way to wake up to see my twitter feed ablaze with flyers’ gut wrenching reactions to the beyond shameless devaluation of the Alaska Air loyalty program (see Gary’s post from A View From The Wing if you missed it). If you trust a word Alaska tells you from this day forward you are a fool.

Loyalty programs are truly unique. They, traditionally, have driven consumer behavior to fly and buy and act in a way that is focused toward a travel goal or dream vacation. Often it takes YEARS to save up enough points to take that trip. Thus, the absolute worst thing an airline can do is devalue a program with ZERO notice – this is exactly what Alaska has done today!

Here is why this is so unforgivable and so much worse that what other airlines have done (even worse than Delta). By simply dumping the change we have no time to do what it takes to lock in what was promised before. Some may have even gone so far as to buy points or transfer points from other programs to have a balance large enough to redeem an award (and are waiting for the points to post). Now you don’t have enough as the cost may have doubled overnight.

tweet from freddie awards about alaska

No, you can not change your Alaska vote!

Why is this so much worse than Delta? Delta also makes unannounced changes over and over to SkyMiles and tells no one. We have to find them. The ONLY thing that they (as of late) do that is slightly less unforgivable than what Alaska has done is they have a date when the changes begin. So, as long as you can book your trip before whatever that date is you can still get in at the lower level.

American this month also devalued their program but they have set the gold standard for these kinds of changes. They announce the changes and give you up to some date to book at the lower level for travel up to a year (or there about) forward. This builds trust that you can save your points and spend them at the current published levels.

Personally I feel what Alaska has done is un-repairable and trust has been destroyed. A move like they have done today is so much more shameful than anything the other MAJOR airlines have done or would do. Even if they promise NOT to do something like this again it would be a hollow promise that is not to be believed. If they are capable of this once, they are capable of doing it again or even worse.

tweet from MJ about alaska

OUCH! This from an “airline guy”!

Before you say anything YES airlines have the right to do anything they want with their frequent flyer programs. They can do disgusting and shocking trust destroying actions like Alaska has done today but as MJ on Travel said on twitter, “The fact that you don’t have to give notice does not mean you shouldn’t.” And folks, that is the rub of it all from a blogger who is more focused on industry than points. Airline funny money or award points only have “value” if people trust they are worth something. If they can be cut in half overnight, time to put your loyalty “money” elsewhere.

my cut up bank of america alaska card

My points are now worth 50%!

The first thing I did today is call Bank of America and cancel my Alaska Airline travel card since my points are really worth half what they were yesterday. Are you going to join me? – René

 

 

 

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21 comments

  1. Wait they only devalued Emirates awards?

    Judging by how apoplectic the community is, you’d think that the third world war is coming.

  2. I agree that to make a change with no notice is terrible but to say ALL your points are worth half as much as they were yesterday? That’s simply not the case.

  3. With the large bonus for purchasing Alaska miles, I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who bought enough for an Emirates ticket, and are now out of luck.

    Anyone who did should push hard for a refund. If enough people do it, Alaska would probably have to bend.

  4. I fly international (Mexico and South America) once a year and have no current interest in flying emirates or to their destinations. I use these points for american,delta, and alaska flights in the continental US and hawaii. I am currently not accumulating alaska points, but am still sitting on a large pile from CC signups in the last 6 years. Are the points still worth the same for me today? I understand that this is a terrible move by Alaska and that they could annihilate the portion of the award chart that I use at any time, but I think I am unaffected at this point. Am I correct?

  5. Yet you will continue earning Alaska miles because their chart is still better than other airlines.

  6. @Chris – You are correct. The scary thing is if they did this once, they will do it again. See the bigger picture! 🙁

  7. Sorry Rene but bloggers are to blame on this. Yes, you all do a great job BUT when it gets too much airlines and hotels will shut off the faucet. Emirates is probably the one that did this. Not Alsaka. Emirates is probably tired of having non revenue people on their premium cabins and I don’t blame them. If I am a revenue customer paying $20k+ for a first class seat I would not be happy to see a guy taking a selfie while inside the shower. Taking a selfie while wearing a PJ. Of drinking premium champagne like there is no tomorrow. That is basically what is happening. Lots of not so high class people taking advantage and turning their premium classes in a frat party. They just said enough. I would not be surprised if more bad changes happen soon like only allowing their own elite members to redeem for premium cabins and so on.

  8. Uh, dude compared to DulTTTa that doesn’t even have a chart. EK F has been abused by blogs its a surprise they didn’t raise it sooner.

  9. Based on the outrage expressed by the bloggers and hackers, it’s safe to say that Alaska made the right move.

  10. I was looking for a reason to terminate my relationship with BofA and now I have a good reason. I’ll close both my personal and business cards and not look back. Glad I didn’t seriously consider a long term relationship with Alaska as an elite or I would be really pissed. Looking for domestic ways to burn my remaining miles and that should be easy even if it’s a lousy redemption.

  11. Let me preface with I think devaluing without notice is lower than low and not at all a smart way to run a loyalty program in which you are building a relationship with your customers in the hopes they become or decide to continue to remain regular fare-paying customers of your airline. I know I’m about to poke a bear here but this is a serious question from a Delta elite that collects AS miles and would have possibly redeemed for EK F at some point.

    Of all the people expressing outrage, how many are actual AS frequent fliers? People that buy real revenue tickets and spend $2000 or more with them a year? I think it’s a lot lower than many think. I’m going to guess (and that’s all it is) that a lot of these people whose dream it was to fly EK F for cheap on AS miles have never even stepped foot on an Alaska plane much less bought a revenue ticket. What kind of loyalty is generated when most of these people were either simply buying miles or opening CC after CC for the bonuses. I think you’re making way too much of the loyalty angle on this particular devaluation. Many of the people that targeted this award were not AS loyalists and never were going to be. They were hobbyists like most of us that read blogs like this.

    A great deal came to an end. Let’s not act like the hobby is over forever.

  12. @Jason – I buy Delta tickets that are code-share with AS. Sure not a regular flyer, but don’t have to be to be part of the program and earn their miles. As such, I expect notice before they devastate any part of their program. Look at Delta, death by 1000 cuts is still death and I fear this move is just step 1 with many more nasty surprises to come from Alaska.

  13. @rene – I appreciate what you are saying and I’m sure we do not 100% disagree. I think it’s pretty dumb to devalue without notice. BUT, you’re not giving them any loyalty so why should they care what you think of their loyalty program. And if a FF program is all about building loyalty with their flyers, why do you even care since you only fly them on codeshares anyway. You’re a Delta guy that’s flirting with AA. You’re not even considering AS as your airline. I understand you live in South Bend and they don’t go where you need to go. I live in Cincinnati in the same situation. I just think it’s funny that the people that aren’t even AS loyalists are the ones that are complaining the most.

  14. @Jason – Do keep in mind they make just a few pennies from selling points to us (directly or via CC). I don’t have to fly them (much) to be of value to them.

  15. I agree with Santastico:
    I think all the bloggers and wannabe bloggers bragging about getting First Class seats for nothing is what is ruining this hobby. I can see the executives getting very annoyed or insulted when they see young low income people taking advantage of the miles and points system. I can see how someone who is paying the big bucks for a ticket would be annoyed that the person sitting next to them got the same seat for less than 1% of the price that they paid.
    Social Media has in inadvertently created an arms race of “look at me” people who are trying to get others to “like” them based on superficial reasons instead of from doing good deeds. All this Social Media and online bragging is killing the “golden goose”.
    I have enjoyed this hobby immensely and am sad to see it go down hill so fast.

  16. Rene’s personal situation aside, I think his primary point is still valid. Sure, most of US are points [enthusiasts] and we’re mad and feel cheated, but what about the REAL Alaska FF loyalists? Don’t you think THEY were saving for that shower flight, too? I sure would be. I’d know exactly what it cost and be counting my miles, upgrading for the extra miles, etc. with my eye on that prize. To have it put so very out of reach with no warning would infuriate me. If I WERE an Alaska Air loyalist, I wouldn’t be today.

    One question I have about all these recent devals: Why are they always so drastic? Why can’t they just go up gradually like most other things? We would absolutely accept a 10% increase in the cost of award flights (or rooms) every year or so, but 80-100% is infuriating and makes everyone nothing but mad.

    I really did have my heart set on flying Emirates F next year, but as it is, I am not sure it’s worth the price. I am planning on asking for a refund of my recent miles purchase, as it was solely to help toward my goal of that flight. (FYI, my understanding is that if you bought miles during the recent promo, they’re giving full refunds.)

  17. IMO this is Emirates pulling the carpet out from under Alaska not Alaska being untrustworthy to its frequent flyers.

  18. @Rene, It is truly amazing how some people react negatively to your criticism of this egregious and abusive action by AS. They even contend that you and the blogging community forced AS to do it. I have no idea why people with such attitudes and viewpoints would want to read your blog in the first place.

  19. Wow… bloggers being thrown to the mat. This is fun. It is rather amusing to read the sudden change in singing the absolute praise of AS to condemning the company to the depths of the abyss overnight. Sorta like making changes to a program without announcing it ahead of time.

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