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Alaska Air Mileage Plan tightens routing rules – no more cheap ’roundtrip’ award tickets

This follows the introduction of Singapore Airlines award tickets into the system.

Loyalists of Alaska Air will know that the programme is particularly generous in its award ticket rules, which has created some really interesting redemption tricks, including a (almost) roundtrip JAL ticket in business class for only 25,000 miles between Southeast Asia and Japan.

More recently, Alaska Air has added Singapore Airlines as as redemption partner, causing a big stir in the Singapore miles-chasing community.

Many miles-chasers have snapping up Alaska Air Mileage Plan miles to take advantage of some of the loophole in their award inventory, particularly in Asia.

So here are some of the changes:

Singapore Airlines award chart update: China-Southeast Asia award tickets now cost more

For a start, Alaska Air has corrected the categorisation for China (including Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing), and now it is grouped together with Japan and South Korea. This results in an increase of Southeast Asia-China routing from 25,000 in business to a whopping 60,000 miles. In economy, the increase is still a good 50% increase, from 15,000 to 22,500 miles.

This has also been updated in the inventory:

The good news out of this is that, if you are travelling to and from China, you still get a one-stop option on JAL via Tokyo for 25,000 miles each way.

No more stopover for intra-Asia itineraries

More critical, Alaska Air has removed the option for a stopover for intra-Asia itineraries. Effectively, that means that the long-time trick of doing an almost roundtrip Japan trip on JAL in business class for 25,000 miles has been officially snuffed out.

The ’roundtrip’ ticket on JAL is no more

However, straightforward one-way Singapore-Japan itineraries in business class are still possible, and for 50,000 miles on Alaska Air Mileage Plan, it still comes up cheaper than the 94,000 Krisflyer miles on Singapore Airlines. If you were planning to use Alaska Air miles for SQ tickets to Japan, it will set you back by a cool 120,000 miles.

Final thoughts

These changes are definitely very disappointing for the Asian community who are big fans of Alaska Air Mileage Plan programme given the possibility of creating a backtracking stopover even on a one-way itinerary.

As with any loopholes, it’s a matter of time before they are discovered and patched, and unfortunately the moment has come as a result of the addition of Singapore Airlines as a redemption partner.

Having said that, Alaska Air is still pretty good value as a programme to credit your premium cabin tickets to (250% for SQ business class revenue fares!), and specific award routings are still fairly cheap. Looking forward, it may no longer be worth buying Alaska Air miles, but if you travel in premium cabins often for work (or leisure), it may still be worthwhile to keep accumulating the miles.

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