Alaska scraps its 100% earnings for BA flights overnight – when will American follow?

On the face of it, the fact that Alaska Airways has cut the credit it gives for BA flights does not seem important.

Few people even know that Alaska (which is not a oneworld member) is a BA partner although I did an overview of Alaska’s BA relationship here and here.

Alaska used to give you at least 100% mileage credit when flying BA, even on discounted economy.  Overnight, with no warning, that changed.  The new Alaska earning structure, which you can see here, now matches what BA gives to British Airways Executive Club members with 0.25 miles per mile flown on cheaper tickets.

Why does this matter?

Alaska.4330.GH.tif

Because American Airlines is STILL giving at least 1 mile per mile flown if you credit your British Airways flight to AAdvantage.

If you book a flight in discounted economy on BA, you currently earn FOUR TIMES as many miles (following the April 28th changes) by crediting that flight to American.

The reason I haven’t made a big song and dance about this is that I am sure the situation can’t last. Alaska has pulled the rug on its members overnight, with no notice.  I am sure that American will do the same soon.

As few people are yet flying bookings made after April 28th (bookings made before April 28th are ‘protected’ at the old Avios rates) there will not have been a rush of people crediting to the AA scheme so far.  Over time that will change, which is why I assume British Airways is putting pressure on AA to make the change ASAP.

You can see the current earning rates for BA flights credited to the American Airlines programme here.  Yes, it really is that generous – at the moment.

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Comments

  1. Phillip says:

    I expect AA is waiting until the forthcoming devaluation of Aadvantage… Because there is no doubt it is coming… So they’ll do it all in one go!

  2. Anyone need access to the ba lounge in Gatwick north at 10am this morning? Can take 2 guests and you must be on a ba flight

  3. RIcatti says:

    AA is in the precarious position. To start giving 0.25 points on most flights with its major partner, what’s next, same for own flights?

    The problem with this Avios devaluation was that they dropped points earned AND made it prohibitively expensive to redeem with partners. That breaks the spirit of an alliance. (Star Alliance partner awards are never 50% more expensive in points, same with Virgin + Delta awards).

  4. James67 says:

    Just a reminder Cathay redemption through Alaska scheme are amongst the best redemption deals around. For example ow HKG-Europe are 42500 and 70000 miles in J and F respectively.

  5. Phillip says:

    Skyteam and Star Alliance are both notorious at giving 0 Miles to partners’ discounted economy tickets. Equally, most of the their FFPs, particularly those that are distance based do have different charts for partners versus their own flight redemptions. I’m not necessarily saying 50% more expensive (although there are some cases) but still more. And at the end of the day, it’s part of the loyalty system – not all airlines were created equal while you would want to encourage as much loyalty for your own brand. That said, I do think BAs hikes for partner redemptions are pretty steep. I put that down to BA realising that people would rather travel on their partners’ superior products rather than their own and until they upgrade their hard product, this is how they deter BAEC members booking onto partners’ flights.

    In terms of earning, it is clear that there are some airlines that BA is closer to than others. In such cases we’ve seen increased earning in Economy (see Qatar and Finnair as two examples).

    American is treading very carefully at the moment – not because it doesn’t want to upset its customers who fly BA, but because they are the only one of the Big 3 USA Airlines to still offer an extremely generous frequent flyer programme. The only reason for this, is because they didn’t want to upset their USA customers during the merger with US Airways and lose them to Delta or United who have both severely devalued their programmes over the last year or so. American can’t afford to keep being so generous. From system wide upgrades to some really cheap redemption rates, it won’t be sustainable in the long run. Once the dust settles on the merger, it will be a different story. It’s the only reason that has kept me from bulking up my AAdvantage balance. I’d like to see the changes that take place first, sometime in the next 12 months.

    • Thanks Philip, I think that is a very good summary

      • RIcatti says:

        It is also an aggregation and requires specific examples, though we are not in disagreement with Phillip.

        Among the Star Alliance, for us Europeans, it is mostly Lufthansa that has a lot of Booking Classes in economy that do not earn on their partners.

        If the flight does not earn me miles in the desired Star Alliance FFP program, I simply look for alternatives (airline, class) that does earn. Price difference is often reasonable. It has to be a very cheap price for me to go without earning miles/earning 25%.

        BA hike on partner redemption (+50%) is extremely high. I cannot come with any Star Alliance partner redemptions that are like that. Hence, my conclusion that BA erodes the Oneworld as an alliance and pushes for unfavourable changes across all of its FFPs.

        It has already been months for the dust to settle on AA and US Airways merger. We do not know their reasoning for not enacting the changes, I doubt it is IT or system integration. Maybe AA did not want to lose a share of Summer holiday market by rocking the boat. It makes an impression that they (AA) are definitely weighting and balancing the forthcoming changes. The horizon is no longer 12 months though and more like 6 months/this year.

        I posted the other day that I went to collect SPG rather than AA (or on any particular airline card) until the dust settles. I will not be going an extra mile to collect Avios and will not strive earning towards their knew expensive/uneconomical redemption rates particularly with partners. That is my strategy.

        • United charges different rates for partner J and F. 80k one way on UA F North America to Europe, 110k Star Alliance F North America to Europe.

          Singapore Airlines charges different rates for SQ and for Star alliance (and additional 15% online booking discount for SQ flights only)

        • Phillip says:

          RIcatti, I think it boils down to your last paragraph which I think sums up miles and points collection; yes there are general trends but at the end of the day, it’s what suits your travel habits and how you personally use your miles and points.

          With respect to the AA/US merger, AAdvantage and Dividend integration only started just over a month ago and will not be complete for some time to come; any major changes right now would add havoc to the chaos.

          For me personally, what adds value to miles alongside the actual amounts earned/needed to redeem for various flights, is the ability for their validity to be extended with some activity but also the ability to pool in miles with family members. I could argue that FFPs which do not allow extension of mileage validity also erode OW (see CX and QR). But then there are things that both Asia Miles and Priviledge Club offer that others don’t and I actually value. And so on and so forth.

          For a while now my strategy has been reasonable diversification which is why, like you, I am happy to bulk up on SPG points without too much concern as there are many uses for them. Another reason why I value my Membership Rewards highly too.

          A +50% hike on partner redemptions pains me, as it was one of my most frequent uses of Avios, but I still see good value in the BAEC. I simply utilise other FFPs when I know I can get better value for identical redemptions.

  6. Phillip says:

    And let’s not forget, in terms of earning, BA has simply reverted back to the system they used during the pre-crunch era. Earning one mile per mile flown particularly on discounted economy fares only came into play in 2008-2009, along with benefits such as Silver members earning 100% bonus Avios etc. Before that, you’d be lucky to see 25%! Go back a few years earlier, and you couldn’t even join the Executive Club without first having to purchase a flexible economy ticket or above.

    • RIcatti says:

      — And let’s not forget, in terms of earning, BA has simply reverted back to the system they used during the pre-crunch era.

      We are not in disagreement, Phillip. However, this is irrelevant. We forgot that and formed our consumer behaviour according to what we saw in the recent years. We respond to changes in that, not historic state of affairs.

      • Phillip says:

        I see it more as part of supply and demand. It’s what drives all of these changes. Devaluations or revaluations.

        Groceries sales go down, Tesco gives 2 Clubcard points per £1 spent. Subsequently, Avios changes the conversion rates because people are slowly becoming Clubcard point rich. Groceries sales go up, Tesco goes back to 1 Clubcard point per £1 spent, Avios re-instates previous conversion ratio.

        I was actually surprised that BA retained some of the changes they made last time for as long as they did. For example, giving 100% bonus Avios to both Silver and Gold members. I really didn’t see the 100% bonus for Silver members lasting for more than a couple of years, but it did. And for most people who had no status, it had no impact, and was barely noted. Maybe for some this feels historic, for me it is still recent in the grand scheme of things.

        If an airline is seeing more redemptions on partner flights than their own, they will want to do some damage limitation. And that’s what BA did. I don’t agree with it, and I don’t like it either, but no change should be surprising. You mention Star Alliance – some airlines have gone as far as completely blocking availability for some partner airlines in premium classes. Look at Lufthansa’s First Class. Avianca’s Lifemiles blocked availability completely to stop members redeeming on it. I would at least prefer the option of paying more miles than not having the option. And that’s over and above the fact that airlines like Lufthansa and Singapore withhold premium cabin seats from partners. That’s certainly one thing that doesn’t happen at the moment in OW.

        How about United’s devaluation in 2014? Not only did they increase redemption rates in First and Business by more than 50% in some cases, for both partners and their own flights. And the difference in redeeming a First Class award from the US to Europe is almost 40% more on partners than on United.

        Yes, it’s unfair particularly for someone who has been saving for a long time for an aspirational redemption and suddenly find themselves priced out but the point I was making was that changes to FFPs happen more often than people realise, and I don’t just mean devaluations. Those are the ones that get most publicised. There are other changes too, from added restrictions to reduced allowances that might not affect most people but are still happening across the board. It’s an ever changing game. And that’s the one thing I always count on when I plan my travels!

  7. Daniel says:

    I have an upcoming Iberia flight, I think it’s best for me to credit to the AA scheme rather than Avios.

    What is the easiest way to change the FF number on my booking?

Trackbacks

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