Alaska Airlines 72-hour rule puts a hurt on MileagePlan

Looking for a last-minute Alaska Airlines MileagePlan award trip to Asia? That’s not likely to turn out very well. The program recently implemented a 72-hour advance booking requirement for a triplet of partner carriers.

The rule affects a pair trio of partners, Cathay Pacific Hainan Airlines and Japan Airlines.

The option to redeem on those carriers remains outside the 72-hour window, members chasing the premium seats are going to face greater challenges with the rule in place. Both programs are known to (reasonably often) open up award seats close to departure if they remain in revenue inventory. Now those seats will not be available to MileagePlan members.

Oh, and it appears that this includes booking an economy seat in advance and changing to a premium cabin inside the 72-hour window, though it remains to be seen just how things are actually implemented. This program change doesn’t appear to be fully understood by the front-line employees answering questions right now.

Is it a major hit on the program? Probably not as significant as losing the SkyTeam partners associated with Delta Air Lines. But it still stings, especially for those members used to the last minute game.


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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


    1. Yes, the lack of the 72-hour cutoff is an advantage of the UA program over those two, though DL and AS have other benefits over UA. Picking the best program is a personal decision based on travel patterns and needs. What’s right for me could be a total mess for you.

  1. Given the multiple serious foibles encountered thus far on my trip, there’s soooooo much I can say about the shortcomings of booking Alaska Airlines international partner awards…

  2. Seth, this sucks. Most foreign airlines open up award space in premium cabin 72 hours prior to departure… that’s how I got my EK – F award (had a Cathay Premium Economy)… thankfully we still don’t pay change fees on awards. But this definitely keeps us from burning up more miles. I bet Alaska and the other airlines noticed this. :/

    1. Yeah, that’s a big part of the hurt with this one.

      I understand the fraud concerns and the carriers affected speak directly to that issue. But this seems a very broad stroke for fixing that problem.

  3. Since I really don’t have the flexibility to book long haul flights so close in, it doesn’t affect me at all, but any negative change is sad to see.

    1. One of the big problems with the change is that the good seats are often released only on short notice. If you can find them way out that’s great but for many people the last minute swap to J or F is a nice option. At least it used to be.

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