Alaska Mileage Plan has been one of my favorite loyalty programs for years. With a unique array of non-alliance partners, excellent redemption opportunities in a few different premium cabins, free stopovers, and a great short-haul award chart for jetting around the West Coast, their value is solid.

While I typically haven’t earned Alaska Mileage Plan miles by flying, they have also presented a great opportunity for crediting flights from a couple carriers. Qantas, in particular. For a long time, all paid Qantas fare classes earned 100% or more of the flown miles when credited to Mileage Plan.

Well, no more. It was awesome while it lasted. But Alaska has now gutted the earning rates.

Alaska Mileage Plan Credit for Qantas Starting 2020

Alaska’s current earning chart for Qantas is one of the best among its partners. You receive 100% mileage credit for all paid economy fares, and more than that if you fly premium economy, business, or first:

 

Here is the new earning chart that will take effect starting January 1, 2020. It’s far worse:

All the best-value fares have seriously devalued mileage earning. You’re looking at a quarter of what you would have received for N, O, and Q fare classes.

Why This Is Such A Gut Punch

The 100% earning rate was a book for folks looking to earn a serious number of Alaska miles on a vacation to Australia, especially those targeting top-tier Alaska MVP Gold 75k status. A single vacation to Australia would gert you more than halfway to one of Alaska’s status levels, if not most of the way. Let me show you how badly this hurts.

Assume you’re able to pounce on a $600 Qantas fare between San Francisco and Melbourne via Brisbane. This is a total of 15,840 miles round-trip, according to MileCalc. Up til now, you’d earn a full 15,840 Mileage Plan miles.

If you were doing an Alaska Airlines mileage run, I would peg your “cents per mile” (CPM) at 3.7. Not the most excellent, but not terrible for an economy fare, especially for visiting somewhere as inviting as Australia. I’d be more than happy with that value.

But we unfortunately get to kiss it goodbye. Now that fare will earn you just 3,960 miles, not enough to really consider this worthy of going out of your way to credit to Alaska Mileage Plan as your program of choice for crediting your miles.

Given that the H, B, and Y fare classes are the most expensive economy fares, you’ll have to pay an enormous amount of money for an economy fare that will receive the same mileage credit as before. I guarantee you that all the best deals Qantas offers will be in the N, O and Q fare classes.

Photo courtesy of Mertie via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 license

Conclusion

I’m extremely bummed Alaska made this change. Yet I can see why it is logical, as the earning falls in line with many of their other airline partners. Previously, you could have earned enough miles for a one-way ticket to Hawaii, which in some cases is a $200+ award value. Orr three short-haul flights that may be going for $75 each. That’s like getting 33-38% back in value on a $600 fare.