Say It Ain’t So: Alaska Eliminates Intra-Asia Stopovers On Awards

by Chris Dong

Overnight, Alaska cut an awesome perk of its Mileage Plan program. Previously, you could have a stopover on awards within Asia on Hainan Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Singapore Airlines. (Alaska also partners with Cathay Pacific in Asia, but stopovers in Hong Kong on intra-Asia awards weren’t allowed.)

That meant that you could fly from a non-hub city of one the above airlines, have a stopover for a few days (or longer) in one of the above airlines’ hub cities, then go onwards to a final destination within Asia — all on just one Alaska award ticket.

Sample Routing With An Alaska Stopover

An example of this is a routing that I had flown on Japan Airlines. I went from Bangkok to Tokyo, spent a few days there, and then went onwards to Delhi for 25,000 Alaska miles in JAL business class. That’s incredible value for two lie-flat business class flights that are six and change hours each.

alaska stopovers

The Alaska Changes (Including Stopovers)

Well, no more. Alaska actually made two changes to their award charts.

  1. Devalue Singapore Airlines awards by reclassifying regions. 
  2. Devalue all intra-Asia awards by eliminating stopovers.

Last week, you could start booking Singapore tickets with Alaska miles. One of the immediate sweet spots was booking a premium cabin flight to or from China with a stopover in Singapore. That worked because China was labelled within the Southeast Asia region which meant you could book nine hours (or more) in first class for 35,000 miles.

This was what the chart looked like for intra-Asia awards.

alaska stopovers

And this is what it looks like now. China has been reclassified into the region (it probably should have been in).

However, there were reports that some flyers were getting extra “creative” with routings by adding in an extra leg (while still having a stopover in Singapore) in such places like London. Yes, a routing like that would be something along the lines of Beijing-Singapore-London-Singapore in first class — for 35,000 miles. Obviously, that’s a loophole that was bound to close, and just plain ridiculous.

What’s unfortunate is not that this loophole was closed, but that Alaska is now eliminating stopovers on all previously eligible intra-Asia tickets. 

This has been the footnote on award charts when searching for redemption rates within the region.

Stopovers are not available on Intra- Asia award redemptions.”

This is significant devaluation, and a shame for Alaska to do so suddenly. However, I can’t say I’m truly surprised.

Thankfully, flights with other regions and Asia are not affected by this change. That means you could still fly something like North America to Hong Kong, stopover, and then fly onwards to India on Cathay Pacific all on one award.

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