In the latest devaluation of award program sweet spots, Alaska Mileage Plan has increased the cost of redeeming miles for Japan Airlines First Class flights. Without warning, one of the program’s best sweet spots has increased by up to 43%.
This unfortunate news comes hot off the heels of two other recent program devaluations, which is certainly a tough pill to swallow.
Alaska Mileage Plan Increases Japan Airlines First Class Pricing
Late last year, Alaska Mileage Plan made some changes to its award charts by integrating the pricing for all partner airlines into a single chart, rather than having separate charts for each airline.
The most concerning part of the chart restructuring was the presence of “Starting from” at the top of the award columns. Many Alaska miles collectors were concerned that this left the door wide open for the program to charge more for the same routes without giving any warning.
It appears that this is exactly what has happened, at least with premium flights with Japan Airlines so far.
Until now, a one-way flight in First Class between North America and Japan would cost 70,000 Alaska miles.
Now, the cost appears to has risen to 85,000 Alaska miles for flights departing from the West Coast, which is a 21% increase.
From the East Coast, it gets even worse, as the cost has now risen to 100,000 Alaska miles, representing a 43% increase.
For flights between Tokyo and Chicago, the cost has also risen to 100,000 miles.
If you look closely at the above image, you’ll notice that Japan Airlines business class is now pricing out at 80,000 miles, which is up from 60,000 miles. This is a rise of 33% compared to the previous pricing.
From the West Coast, business class flights appear to still price out at 60,000 miles, as was the case in the past.
It appears that flights from the West Coast to Japan in business class were left spared from this devaluation, at least for now.
We’ll be monitoring this development closely in the coming days.
Cathay Pacific First Class Unchanged (For Now…)
One of the other best uses of Alaska miles is to redeem for Cathay Pacific First Class.
Historically, flights between North America and Hong Kong have priced out at 70,000 miles. Fortunately, it appears that this is still the case, as demonstrated by First Class flights still pricing at 70,000 miles between Hong Kong and Europe.
If you’ve had your eye on using your Alaska miles for a First Class flight with Cathay Pacific, it would be best to burn your miles sooner than later before any other potential changes to the program occur.
As we’ve just seen with the increase to Japan Airlines First Class, the cost can increase at any time, which is indeed quite troubling.
Alaska Mileage Plan has quietly increased the cost of Japan Airlines First Class redemptions by up to 43%. There was no warning about the devaluation, and it comes in the wake of changes to the Mileage Plan award charts at the end of 2022.
It’s very unfortunate that what people feared most about the new award charts has happened. With the introduction of “Starting from” to the award charts, the door is wide open for other changes without any prior notice.
If there’s any good news to come from this, it’s that the pricing for Cathay Pacific First Class flights remains unscathed, and the cost to fly from the West Coast to Japan in Japan Airlines business class also has not yet been increased.
With the recent increase to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club sweet spot for ANA First Class, flying in style to Japan has just become more expensive.