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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Great changes to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan! Fly Western Canada to Seattle for only 5,000 miles

Yesterday we received some great news from one of the better if not best frequent flyer programs out there. Alaska Airlines revealed details around a new distance based award chart for travel on Alaska Airlines within Canada and the U.S., they revealed the exchange rate between Virgin America Elevate and Mileage Plan, increased earning on premium class fares and the dissolution of their partnership with Delta.

They have introduced a new distance based award chart
This is the best news out of all the news they revealed yesterday, primarily for those of us living in Alberta and British Columbia. Flights on Alaska Airlines between those provinces and Seattle just got significantly cheaper. From 12,500 miles one way to 5,000 miles one way!! In a time where most programs are starting to charge more miles for award flights Alaska is charging less.  For the longer haul flights for travel within the continental US and Canada will remain at 12,500 miles one way or 25,000 miles round trip.
Lets go back to the 5,000 mile options now. All 5 cities that Alaska Airlines serves in Canada should be within the 700 miles or fewer range:
We were hard pressed however to find many flights available at the 5,000 mile range, the most luck we had was Vancouver or Victoria to Seattle where we did find quite a 5,000 mile options. From Calgary we did find quite a few 7,500 mile options while Kelowna and Edmonton we couldn't find anything under 10,000 miles one way. So the key here is that you can now extra some great value on this short haul flights as long as you can find availability.
All of February is wide open for YVR-SEA (same with YYJ-SEA)
Or if you choose to drive to Seattle you can fly to San Francisco for only 5,000 miles!

If you can find or take advantage of these 5,000 mile flight options this just added some huge value to the mbna Alaska Airlines World Elite® MasterCard® credit card as it comes with a 25,000 mile sign up bonus with your first purchase.  You can do the math from here, 25,000 miles sign up bonus means 5 one way flights at the 5,000 mile award level!

Partnership with Delta Airlines is done
From the press release yesterday this love-hate relationship is now over. The two airlines have been partners for a long time but in recent years one could say Delta invaded Alaska's territory making Seattle somewhat of a hub by substantially increasing the number of routes they flew out of SEA to compete directly with Alaska Airlines.
Effective May 1, 2017, Delta and Alaska will no longer have a codeshare agreement, and sales of flights under DL- and AS-coded flight numbers flown on Alaska and Delta aircraft respectively will cease. Additionally, customers of each airline will no longer be able to earn and redeem Delta miles or Mileage Plan miles on flights operated by the other carrier. The carriers will retain an interline agreement, allowing them to continue offering customers ticketing and baggage connectivity. Delta and Alaska today codeshare on only a small number of flights as Delta's growth in Seattle has reduced the need for codeshare flying.

Virgin America Takeover
Virgin America - Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles will convert at a ratio of 1 Elevate Point to 1.3 Mileage Plan miles. If you follow our global site, FrequentFlyerBonuses.com, you'll have had the opportunity to find out about free points offers from Virgin America Elevate over the past several years. Not tons of points but a decent amount nonetheless, I know I have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3,000 Elevate points simply from their free points offers and wasn't sure if I could use them. Now I will for surely transfer them to Alaska and boost my Mileage Plan balance by about 3,900 miles. Also as many U.S. frequent flyer bloggers are pointing out, you can now earn extra Mileage Plan miles when you convert Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. Not directly but via Virgin America. As SPG transfers 1:1 to Alaska and Virgin America you can see that you'll want to transfer to Virgin America Elevate first in 20,000 Starpoint increments (as SPG will kick in an additional 5,000 miles) and then convert them to Alaska Airlines. Essentially you'll get 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per Starpoint instead of just 1 if you use this method. (excluding the bonus kicked in by SPG)

Increased Earning on Premium Class fares

Alaska Airlines will now award you with a lot more miles if you fly their partner airlines in Business or First Class! They stay up to 80% more miles which is a huge increase.

For example, two very popular airlines for Canadians are Cathay Pacific and British Airways. You can now earn up to 250% of the mileage flown if you fly British Airways business class, 400% if you fly first class and Cathay Pacific will see 250% for first class.



These are some great changes for the program and truly an enhancement if you don't count the end of the Delta Airlines partnership but we saw that coming anyways.

What are your thoughts on these changes to this already great program? Are they enough to have you switch from another program or move Mileage Plan up the ranks in your portfolio? Let us know in the comments below!

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