Alaska Airlines may be growing, but its latest announcement indicates that its Mileage Plan will apparently see further scaling back of earning opportunities, along with adjustments to award rates. The company's acquisition and merger with Virgin America was expected to result in changes to its loyalty rewards, though for some frequent flyers, the extent of changes has come as a surprise. The newest announcement revealed modifications to Alaska's partnership with American Airlines, which will reduce the flexibility members have when earning rewards.
There are three major changes that will be taking effect next year. They are scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2018. Firstly, American flights not marketed via Alaska will no longer provide Mileage Plan members with miles; likewise, Alaska flights not explicitly marketed by American will no longer grant American AAdvantage participants any reward miles.
Secondly, elite members of American and Alaska's respective frequent flier programs will lose access to free carry-on, seating choice, or prioritized boarding when flying with the other carrier.
Lastly, Alaska is making broad changes to reward costs by devaluing its award rates for flights on American. The changes to rates vary depending on class and zone, with some increasing dramatically, with others actually being reduced in price.
While the changes are disappointing for some, Alaska's Mileage Plan is still fairly generous. Furthermore, it's possible that as the carrier settles from its merger with Virgin America that more improvements will be made to the program. The full details, along with a chart detailing 2018's planned reward rates, is available for your perusal on Alaska's blog here.