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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Raises Price of Its First Class Awards

James Larounis's image
James Larounis
James Larounis's image

James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...

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In an unfortunate move, Alaska Airlines has raised the price of Mileage Plan miles needed to fly its first class product on most routes beginning March 1, 2022. If you’re looking to book first class flights on Alaska, you may want to think about booking those trips now vs. waiting until after March.

The Good News

The good news here is that the price of economy class awards is not changing, and neither is the price of awards needed to fly Alaska Airlines in its Saver pricing, traditionally starting at 25,000 Mileage Plan miles (up to 40,000 miles for flights to and from Hawaii). These Saver seats tend to be available on flights Alaska otherwise doesn’t think will sell out, so you may not find them available on every flight at every time.

The Bad News

Alaska first class upgrade
Some Alaska Airlines flights will cost more miles starting this March. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

Alaska is adjusting the price of first class awards on flights where you can have last-seat inventory on most routes. You’re able to spend more miles to get the last first class seat on the plane, and while that would naturally come at a premium, Alaska is raising that premium even more starting March 1:

  • Trips with a distance between 1,401 miles and 2,100 miles will now cost between 25,000 and 70,000 miles
  • Trips longer than 2,101 miles will now cost between 30,000 and 90,000 miles
  • To Central America, flights will cost between 30,000 and 95,000 miles
  • To Hawaii, flights will cost between 40,000 and 95,000 miles
  • Trips to Mexico between 1,401 and 2,100 miles will now cost between 30,000 and 70,000 miles
  • Trips to Mexico over 2,1000 miles will cost between 30,000 and 95,000 miles

This means a one-way first class flight from Washington, D.C. (DCA) to Los Angeles (LAX), for example, could cost 90,000 Mileage Plan miles, a monumental amount of miles for a domestic trip.

Keep in mind, a Qantas business class flight from New York (JFK) to Sydney (SYD), one of the longest stretches of flights in the world (with a stop in Los Angeles) costs 55,000 Mileage Plan miles. If you’re spending 95,000 Mileage Plan miles to fly Alaska Airlines first class, that’s nearly 2 Qantas business class flights to Australia — and an absolutely terrible value. You’re better off saving your miles for international trips on partner airlines, where you’ll get significantly more value.

Hot Tip: Instead of redeeming miles for a first class award ticket outright, consider our in-depth guide on how to upgrade to first class on Alaska Airlines.

Final Thoughts

While these changes do include an increase in miles for flights, you do have the ability to get the last available first class seat, which can be valuable in situations for last-minute travel or where fares are extremely high. While you’ll certainly want to ensure you’re trying to book at the lowest mileage amount, having the option to pay more for a guaranteed seat can be useful in some scenarios.

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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