Alaska Airlines continues partner cuts, slashes mileage earnings on Qantas

Nov 2, 2019

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Once close partners, American Airlines and Alaska announced in early October that the two airlines are ending their mileage partnership in March 2020 after years of cutbacks.

Now, Alaska is taking a step back from AA’s Oneworld partner and new joint venture business partner Qantas. As reported by Loyalty Lobby, Alaska has issued a new partner earning chart for Qantas flights starting January 1, 2020 that slashes earnings on some flights by up to 75%:

The negative changes are solely for flights booked in economy. Earnings on flights booked into mid-fare economy tickets (booking codes G, K, L, M, S, V) are going to be cut in half; earnings on the cheapest Qantas economy fare buckets (N, O, Q) are the ones getting slashed by 75%.

Note that these changes are only for Qantas-marketed flights — meaning flights that are booked with a Qantas flight number. If you book a Qantas-operated flight with an Alaska Airlines codeshare number (Alaska flight numbers 5000 through 5499), you’ll still earn 100% base miles:

As with most of these mileage changes, travelers who booked flights prior to this announcement aren’t “grandfathered” into the prior earning structure. That means this is bad news for any travelers who booked Qantas flights to help them toward earning Alaska MVP status in 2020.

If you already have a flight booked in 2020, you now have a newly-improved mileage earning option. This Alaska-Qantas mileage earnings slash comes just a month after American Airlines and Qantas improved mileage earnings on each other’s flights.

After this change, deep-discount economy fare codes (N, O, Q) will earn 25% award miles through both Alaska and American Airlines. Alaska miles (1.8 cents per mile) are valued higher than American Airlines miles (1.4 cents per mile), so it still could make sense to credit Qantas flights to your Alaska Mileage Plan instead of AAdvantage for those solely looking for the biggest return from their flight.

However, once these changes kick in on January 1, 2020, status seekers may want to credit to American Airlines as Qantas flights now earn 100% of flight miles as AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM).

For example, let’s consider a round-trip Qantas flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and Sydney (SYD) booked into deep discount fares (N, O, Q). For flights starting January 1, 2020, this booking will earn:

LAX-SYD round-trip on Qantas AA Alaska
Elite Qualifying Miles 14,976 3,744
Elite Qualifying Dollars 749 n/a
Award Miles 3,744 3,744
Value of award miles $52 $67

This Alaska change comes just under 60 days from the effective date, which is generally regarded as the minimum courtesy notice that mileage programs give for major changes.

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