Almost a year after joining the oneWorld Alliance, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has still not implemented a proper way for members to use their miles across all partners including combining different carriers.
Members are still bound to highly restrictive rules when it comes to using Mileage Plan miles on partner airlines, just like it has always been.
There was hope at first that Mileage Plan would finally dispose of these restrictions which Alaska claims are based on the rules of the partner carriers as the standard within an alliance has always been that you can combine all carriers on awards and aside from severe backtracking there are no restrictions involved.
I’m now using airline reward miles for over 20 years and none of the explanations given by Alaska Airlines MP agents make any sense. Over the years I have used oneWorld miles from multiple different programs and they all allowed me to combine different oneworld partners. Not so with Alaska Airlines.
When I redeemed 27,500 miles for Cathay Pacific First Class from Tokyo to Hong Kong this week, trying to add additional segments I was told several things that don’t add up.
Here are some things the manager noted:
- Cathay Pacific (and any other partner) makes their own rules about what is allowed with award tickets on their metal ;
- Cathay Pacific doesn’t allow stopovers on intra-Asia itineraries, only 14 days when continuing from HK to North America and none at all for Asia to Europe
- Award partners can never be combined
- Alliance membership doesn’t mean you combine airlines in one award ticket
Alongside other ridiculous statements.
This is absolutely untrue and doesn’t make any sense. The main rules governing award tickets are set by the frequent flyer program and not the operating airline. The program decides if they allow stopovers or not, what the award levels are, and what program participating airlines you can include in a ticket.
Combining several alliance partners in one ticket is standard and common practice with pretty much all other programs. I have done so several times on awards issued by American Airlines AAdvantage and British Airways Executive Club and it was never a problem.
Alaska has had this problem for a long time and while its award chart has some real sweet spots, the practical aspect can be quite the opposite and a source of many headaches.
So now, Mileage Plan still imposes routing and carrier restrictions on its awards, even after the most recently published comprehensive award charts:
Combining different airlines is still not possible in many cases, and some airlines are likewise still not bookable on all of their routes. This is unacceptable for a carrier that was allowed to join a major alliance almost a full year ago.
We covered Alaska Airlines many times as far as them joining oneWorld and award restrictions are concerned:
Normally I find Alaska Airlines to have some of the more pleasant and knowledgeable agents to talk to so it isn’t as bad as calling some of the other carriers. But their knowledge extends only as far as they are trained and if these are stories they’re being told in training that how would they know better!?
Members of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan still can’t use their miles in a way that is common standard with other alliance programs. They apply their own strange rules that are highly restrictive and then claim that the operating carriers are at fault for this.
It simply doesn’t make any sense. Any oneworld program offers awards where multiple partners can be combined including but not limited to round-the-world awards (which Alaska doesn’t offer either).
Maybe it’s time that Mileage Plan is given a proper review and they make up their mind of the airline and program is really suitable as an alliance partner if they skeet the standards and rules wherever they please.
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