Alaska announced major changes to their Mileage Plan Program. Instead of redeeming premium cabin awards, one can now avail of lucrative domestic redemptions with their recent changes.
One of the changes that they did is that they lessened short haul award ticket costs. For example, it will only cost you only 5,000 miles to avail of tickets covering a distance of under 700 miles. For tickets covering a distance of 701-1,400 miles, it will cost you only 7,500 miles. For tickets covering a distance of 1,401-2,100 miles, it will only cost you 10,000 miles.
One can now book one-way-non-refundable travel within the continent of Canada and the US, beginning at just 5,000 miles - that is 30% fewer miles than were previously required.
The following are the reasons why these changes in the Mileage Plan Program are awesome. First, the above award costs are based on the cumulative distance of a one-way ticket; meaning, you can fly multiple segments and still qualify for one of the above discounted awards (other airlines that have discounted distance based awards typically limit you to one segment)
Also, Alaska Mileage Plan allows a stopover on one-way awards, including entirely domestic awards. Lastly, award tickets on Alaska are now eligible for complimentary upgrades, so if you're an elite member you can potentially score an upgrade on these tickets. See Boarding Area report Redeem 5,000 Miles For A One-Way Ticket With A Stopover!
However, there are a couple of things that one should be aware of. First, that there are capacity restrictions. Not all of the saver level award seats will be available at the mentioned discounted prices. Meaning, not all flights covering a distance of under 700 miles will cost just 5,000 miles. Second, this doesn't include flights to Mexico, etc.. It is only valid for travel within the continental Canada and U.S.
This is why one should be excited; it is because it opens up opportunities to visit two destinations for just 5,000-10,000 miles. For example, For 5,000 miles one can fly from San Francisco to Portland, have a stopover for several days, and then continue from Portland to Seattle.
Or for 7,500 miles, one can fly from Los Angeles to Santa Rosa, have a stopover, and then continue from Santa Rosa to Seattle. Again for 7,500 miles, one can fly from San Diego to Seattle, have a stopover, and then proceed to Vancouver from Seattle. For 10,000 miles, one can fly from Spokane to Seattle, have a stopover and then proceed to Anchorage from Seattle.
The point is, there are a lot of opportunities with these discounted awards, especially for those on the West Coast. Paying 5,000-10,000 miles for a one-way ticket is a great deal. It is made even better by the ability to have a free stopover or upgrade if you are an elite member. See also Traveler's Today report Alaska Airlines to Offer Free Beer Tastings on Select Q400 Flights around Alaska.