Home Airline Loyalty Alaska's Mileage Plan adds Malaysia Airlines awards...but it may as well not...

Alaska’s Mileage Plan adds Malaysia Airlines awards…but it may as well not have bothered!


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In the past 24 hours, Alaska Airlines has added another oneworld partner to its Mileage Plan program – Malaysia Airlines – but now that I’ve seen the levels at which the awards have been set, I can’t help but wonder why the airline bothered.

It’s coming up to a year since Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance and the airline has been working hard to offer members of its Mileage Plan program the opportunity to use their miles on all of its oneworld partners.

In the past few months, we’ve seen the airline add the likes of Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, and Royal Jordanian to Mileage Plan, and now that Malaysia Airlines has been added too, Alaska’s currency can be used to book flights most major oneworld carriers.

Unfortunately, recent partner additions to the Mileage Plan program have been more than a little underwhelming with premium cabin awards priced at levels that most will ignore, and, sadly, that trend has continued with the addition of Malaysia Airlines.

Unlike most other airlines that still have award charts, Alaska Airlines has a different award chart for each partner airline (you can check what all the various awards cost via this link) and as far as Malaysia Airlines goes, this is how many Mileage Plan Miles you’ll have to pay for one-way Economy and Business Class awards:

To describe these one-way awards as laughable wouldn’t be an overreaction.

The best way to demonstrate just how hilariously bad these award prices are is to compare them to how many American Airlines AAdvantage miles are needed to book the same one-way journeys:

To put that into a little context, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have access to the same Malaysia Airlines award inventory but if you’d like to book a roundtrip Business Class trip between Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, for example, it would cost you 80,000 AAdvantage Miles or 240,000 Alaska Miles.

If you think that’s bad, check this example out:

While you’d only need 150,000 AAdvantage Miles for a roundtrip Business Class award between Asia and Europe, you would need 350,000 Alaska Miles to fly the same journey on the same aircraft in the same cabin.

If Alaska Miles were considerably easier to earn than American Airlines AAdvantage miles you could probably make an argument that explains these huge differences but, as things stand, AAdvantage Miles aren’t hard to earn at all so there’s no excuse for such price gouging.

Overall, my love for Mileage Plan is starting to ebb and I’m starting to get concerned that the price inflation we’re seeing with the new awards, will seep into the existing awards as well. Most of the awards that have recently been added to the program have been unreasonably expensive so how much longer before we see the award costs for travel on Cathay Pacific and JAL revalued?

While Mileage Plan executives claim to be more customer-focused than their competitors and frequently publicly pat themselves on the back for not eliminating award charts, it’s time for someone to point out to them that award charts aren’t of much use if the cost of awards is sky-high.

Have the executives from Delta SkyMiles quietly taken over in Seattle?

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines has now published the cost of partner awards for travel on Malaysia Airlines and the news is pretty dismal. As with a lot of the partner awards that have recently been added to the Mileage Plan program, the award costs for travel on Malaysia Airlines are incredibly high and offer next to no value at all so there’s nothing much to see here at all.

[HT: JT Genter for NerdWallet]

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