Alaska Airlines has gone from being one of my favorite loyalty programs to one of my least favorite. The botched Starlux launch demonstrates once again that you should exercise extreme caution before trusting Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Airlines Botches Starlux Award Launch
When Alaska Airlines rolled out its new partnership with Taiwan-based StarLux Airlines, it teased promotional pricing on award travel between Los Angles and Tapei through August 31, 2023 at a rate of 60,000 miles in business class and 20,000 in economy. But as noted on Frequent Miler, that space evaporated in less than 24 hours. There still remains plenty of award space, but it is now priced much higher (at 165,000 miles for business class or 45,000 for economy class).
Apparently, Alaska was allocated eight seats per flight at the “introductory” prices and that sold out within 24 hours (that is the unconfirmed rumor). Could Alaska not have easily predicted this? Could Alaska not have simply stated from the outset that only eight seats per flight were available at special pricing instead of suggesting this pricing would last though the month of August?
And from the very start (and this continues now) there were extreme irregularities in the rollout of space. For example, say you wanted to fly from Los Angeles to Hanoi. That returned a price of 130,000 miles from the start in business class, but if you booked LA to Tapei the price was 60,000 miles and Tapei to Hanoi was 15,000 miles. Furthermore, domestic Alaska flights with saver availability could not be added without more than doubling the price of the award (and this continues today at significantly higher price points).
I don’t have any Alaska Airlines miles right now so I was not party to this game. While that is a shame to the extent that 60,000 miles for a one-way business class award on StarLux would have been a great deal and a great review for Live And Let’s Fly, Alaska Airlines once again validated why I am skeptical to bank a lot of miles in that program.
Alaska has many theoretical sweet spots, but seems to have access to only a subset of space on JAL and Cathay Pacific and has repeatedly raised rates without notice (going back as far as its Emirates devaluation several years ago) despite assurances from program leaders it would not devalue without notice. That shows disdain for its members.
Hoarding behavior also prevailed. The comments on Frequent Miler are quite interesting, where we hear that many MVP Golds booked 10+ tickets prospectively. It’s one thing to book a backup plan, but quite another to book 10 tickets when you plan to use only one, but are not sure what date. That sort of selfishness really undermines the spirit of collegiality that once ruled the game of miles and points.
I don’t have a horse in this race except to say the rollout of Starlux award bookings was a colossal failure.
As always with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, caveat emptor.
image: Starlux Airlines