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Alaska Airlines Implements Strange Restriction on Award Flights

Daniel Ross's image
Daniel Ross
Daniel Ross's image

Daniel Ross

Senior Content Contributor

671 Published Articles 1 Edited Article

Countries Visited: 56U.S. States Visited: 17

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points...
Edited by: Katie Seemann
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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

356 Published Articles 56 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 28U.S. States Visited: 29

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, F...

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An unusual change has come about concerning award redemptions through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

As first highlighted by Loyalty Lobby, there’s a new restriction regarding the changing of frequent flyer numbers when booking a redemption through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan — a long-time favorite loyalty program of points and miles aficionados.

The news comes just days after the airline updated and simplified its award chart.

Here’s what we know so far.

Alaska’s New Frequent Flyer Number Rule

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is well-known for great value redemptions on flights operated by other carriers, especially in premium cabins.

As such, it’s common for travelers to use Alaska’s Mileage Plan to book flights — even when they’re not frequent Alaska Airlines flyers.

Happy with their newly confirmed redemption, travelers would then update the booking with a frequent flyer number of a fellow Oneworld member airline, such as American Airlines, British Airways, or Cathay Pacific.

British Airways Lounge at Newark EWR
With Alaska’s new restriction, American Airlines top-tier status holders (without Alaska Airlines status) flying economy or premium economy wouldn’t be able to access BA lounges if their ticket was booked through Mileage Plan. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

This means that travelers would still enjoy the benefits of their elite status from their preferred airline even when flying on their Mileage Plan redemption ticket on Alaska (or any other Oneworld carrier) metal.

It would appear that this is no longer the case, as per an update in the general terms and conditions of Alaska’s award charts:

When redeeming miles for an award ticket from Alaska Mileage Plan account, customer cannot enter another airline’s frequent flyer number and is thus ineligible for benefits from another program.

Ignoring the curious omission of ‘an’ and ‘the’ in this update (read it again, and you’ll see what we mean), we’re intrigued by why Alaska has brought about this change.

The only obvious reason could be to deter status holders from other Oneworld airline loyalty programs from snapping up Mileage Plan awards when they’re not Alaska Airlines frequent flyers.

It remains to be seen just how much the change will prevent someone who might normally use Mileage Plan with a different airline’s frequent flyer number from doing so.

Hot Tip:

Compared to other loyalty programs, there aren’t many ways to transfer points to Alaska’s Mileage Plan (the only 1:1 transfer partner is Bilt Rewards.) However, there’s a host of other ways that you can earn Mileage Plan miles.

Final Thoughts

We’re used to airlines stripping back benefits and devaluing loyalty programs, but this new restriction brought in by Alaska Airlines is a change we haven’t come across before.

Only time will tell as to how Alaska enforces this and how much redemption behavior might change.

Daniel Ross's image

About Daniel Ross

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points Guy, and more.


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