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Alaska dynamic pricing for American awards now live; expect cheaper short-haul awards

April 18, 2022
4 min read
Alaska and American planes on the runway at LAX
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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has undergone a series of changes over the last couple of months, including dropping a valuable non-alliance partner, reducing some earning rates, expanding dynamic award pricing and charging sky-high rates for its newest redemption partners. Most of these changes have been negative, but there's one change that might be better than expected.

The Seattle-based airline appears to have rolled out distance-based pricing for American Airlines-operated award flights in the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada. Historically, these flights have cost a flat rate of 12,500 miles in the main cabin and 25,000 in business class. However, we're now seeing short-haul routes cost fewer miles.

Travelers will save up to 40% when compared to the old award price on the shortest flights with this new award-pricing formula — let’s take a closer look.

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Alaska pricing American awards based on distance

(Photo by Pham Le Huong Son/Getty Images)

On March 1, Alaska removed published caps for American Airlines award flights in the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada. According to the award chart, these awards should now start at 12,500 miles one-way in the main cabin and 25,000 in business class and then "vary depending on demand."

There haven't actually been any pricing changes yet, but based on this verbiage, it seemed that awards would only get more expensive. Fortunately, that's not the case.

Based on our searches, it appears that nonstop American-operated flights under 500 miles in distance (i.e., Boston to New York) now start at 7,500 miles in economy, flights between 501 and 650 miles in distance (i.e., Miami to Atlanta) at 10,000 miles and all other flights still at 12,500 miles.

Related: Alaska Mileage Plan is making major changes

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

As of now, it appears that all business- and first-class awards still cost 25,000 miles one-way, regardless of the distance.

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

In other words, flights have only gone down in price, though based on Alaska's ambiguous award chart, that can change down the line.

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

The new rates are live on Alaska's booking engine for travel starting May 9. Interestingly, Alaska hasn't officially updated its award chart yet, but TPG has reached out to the airline for comment and will update this post when we have more information.

Related: Your complete guide to earning and redeeming with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines has quietly introduced distance-based pricing for American Airlines award flights within the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada.

Right now, shorter flights have gotten substantially less expensive, while no flights have gone up in price. Of course, with no published price ceilings, this could change at any point.

This move more closely aligns Alaska's award rates with American AAdvantage's own award chart, which charges 7,500 miles for saver-level economy flights under 500 miles and 12,500 miles for all other flights within the continental U.S. and Canada. The distance-based pricing model is also similar to the one Alaska has for its own flights, though those rates are much more variable.

Overall, this is a welcome improvement for the time being, and couldn’t have come at a better time given the program's recent devaluations.

Featured image by (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases