You can now redeem Alaska miles on Royal Air Maroc — but here’s why you shouldn’t
It's already been over nine months since Alaska Airlines joined Oneworld, and alliance-wide redemptions are still unavailable. These redemptions were supposed to go live last summer, but that's since been delayed to early 2022.
Still, Alaska has been gradually making redemptions available on more partners. In July, Alaska added redemptions on Qatar Airways, with Iberia following in December.
Now, there's another Oneworld partner you can redeem your Alaska miles on — Morocco's flag carrier, Royal Air Maroc. However, the redemption rates are steep and suggest that a devaluation of the Mileage Plan program could be imminent.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Redeeming Alaska miles for Royal Air Maroc flights
Royal Air Maroc awards are bookable online through Alaska's website. Each Alaska partner has its own award chart, and Royal Air Maroc is no different. Unfortunately, the award chart is much less valuable than most other partners.
You can find these award charts on Alaska's website. To give you an idea, here are the one-way award rates for travel on Royal Air Maroc between eligible regions:
- North America to Africa: 50,000 miles in economy, 100,000 miles in business class
- North America to Europe: 60,000 miles in economy, 120,000 miles in business class
- North America to the Middle East: 65,000 miles in economy, 150,000 miles in business class
- Africa to Europe: 17,500 miles in economy, 35,000 miles in business class
- Africa to the Middle East: 32,500 miles in economy, 70,000 miles in business class
- Africa to Africa: 20,000 miles in economy, 45,000 miles in business class
Keep in mind, Alaska doesn't allow you to mix airline partners, though you can add Alaska flights to a partner itinerary. Also, you can add a free stopover in Royal Air Maroc's hub, Casablanca (CMN), on long-haul itineraries between regions.
Although the taxes and fees on these awards are low and a free stopover is nice, overall, these rates aren't a good deal.
Take North America to Europe rates, for example. If you were to redeem your Alaska miles for an American Airlines award between these regions, you'd pay as little as 22,500 miles for economy and 57,500 miles for business class. Compare that to 60,000 miles for Royal Air Maroc in economy and 120,000 miles for business class.
For an even more extreme example, remember that you can book $10,000+ Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines first class flights between North America and Asia for just 70,000 miles — much less than what you'd pay for Royal Air Maroc in business class.
Even if you're set on flying Royal Air Maroc, you can do much better by booking through other programs. For example, American Airlines AAdvantage charges 22,500 to 30,000 miles for economy awards between North America and Europe (including Morocco) and 57,500 miles for business class.
Meanwhile, Etihad Guest charges a flat 22,000 miles in economy class and just 44,000 miles in business class for all nonstop Royal Air Maroc flights over 2,000 miles in length. Etihad is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou.
Related: Fly to Morocco in business class for just 44,000 Etihad miles
Is an Alaska devaluation coming?
Unfortunately, this news only strengthens my suspicions that a devaluation of the Mileage Plan program is coming.
Alaska's newest redemption partners generally have poor redemption values compared to Alaska's original partners. For instance, Iberia awards between the U.S. and Europe cost 35,000 miles in economy and 75,000 miles in business. While not as steep as Royal Air Maroc, these rates are still higher than flying American or British Airways. Similarly, the redemption rates for Qatar Airways awards are higher than through other programs, like AAdvantage.
Although Alaska has said that it would give at least 90 days' notice if changes are coming to any current partner awards, it seems inevitable that it will want to closer align redemption rates. Offering first-class awards to Asia for less than a business class award to Europe won't make sense in the long run once borders reopen.
Another issue is that many charts now only show starting award prices, meaning Alaska could devalue redemption rates without notice.
Related: The latest on Alaska's Oneworld partnership
Alaska started offering mileage earning on Royal Air Maroc as soon as it joined the Oneworld alliance. Today's news is that you can now also redeem on the airline. Unfortunately, the redemption rates are not attractive and could suggest a devaluation is coming to the program.
Right now, there's no update on when exactly alliance-wide redemptions will become available other than "early 2022." TPG will keep you updated on any developments.