Alaska Airlines Japan Airlines Awards Devaluation
Few things in the points and miles world hurt as much as a no-notice program devaluation. But that is exactly what happened this week when Alaska Airlines devalued its Japan Airlines awards for First Class bookings by up to 43%. This hurts even more with the news earlier in March that Virgin Atlantic devalued its own First class awards on ANA. Despite these devaluations, there remains value in the program and there are other good options to book Japan Airlines First Class.
Alaska's Prior Warning Signs
Until a few months ago, Alaska had an award chart for each region and it listed each partner's award rates to/from that region. Those charts included many sweet spots, including Japan Airlines between the USA and Japan for 60,000 Alaska miles in business class and 70,000 miles in first class. In late 2022, Alaska Mileage Plus announced it was scrapping this award chart with each and every award price listed, in favor of a new chart that only lists awards starting from a region's lowest rate. For Asia, the new chart lists awards start from 50,000 for business class and 70,000 for first class, which is the current award rates for Cathay Pacific. While this created panic in the points & miles space, nothing came of it. Award rates remained the same and all was well.
Alaska's No Notice Devaluation
Sometime during the late evening hours of March 13th, the Alaska Airlines Japan Airlines awards devaluation happened for first class bookings. Earlier in the day, a first class award cost 70,000 Alaska miles (identical to the cost of Cathay Pacific) to the USA. By midnight, that price shot up to 85,000 Alaska miles to the West Coast of the USA, a 22% devaluation, and 100,000 Alaska miles to the Midwest and East Coast, a 43% devaluation. Again, this change was done with no notice and with no announcement of any kind by Alaska's Mileage Plus program.
Best Options To Book Japan Airlines First Class Awards
Alaska miles are very difficult to earn. First, there are only 2 credit cards: the personal card and the business card. Second, Alaska Airlines has no transfer partners, other than Marriott. It's hard to justify 85,000-100,000 Alaska miles on a one-way flight when the miles are so difficult to earn. Thankfully, there are still a few other ways to book Japan Airlines first class awards, including via Japan Airline's own program, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and others.
For most folks, the best value now is booking with American Airlines miles. For AA, you can book a Japan Airlines first class award for only 80,000 AA miles each way. While AA miles aren't the easiest to earn, you can apply for a Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, a Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, a Citi Business AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard, or any of the Barclays American Airlines credit card products. Additionally, Bilt Rewards now transfer 1 to 1 to American Airlines, so you can rack them up on your Bilt Rewards Mastercard.
Alaska Airlines Japan Airlines Awards Devaluation: ToP Thoughts
There's just nothing fun about a devaluation, especially when no notice is given. This devaluation by Alaska Airlines is particularly frustrating, as it happened overnight and was a massive price increase. We fear for Cathay Pacific award rates next. How long can Cathay first class awards remain at 70,000 Alaska miles to / from the USA and Hong Kong? Only time will tell, but our guess is that it won't be long.
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