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Alaska Air MAJOR ISSUE? No saver award space!

Alaska Air MAJOR ISSUE? No saver award space!

Old Oct 24, 17, 1:04 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2017
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Angry Alaska Air MAJOR ISSUE? No saver award space!

New here and need some insight from the board into what I see as a major problem/issue:
I am a FF on Alaska Air and for many years, have enjoyed their service. Throughout the years I have accumulated many FF miles and the time has come to use them. I go to to book travel to Hawaii and want to fly first class. Naturally, I go to their awards page and look at how many miles I need to fly see pic attached with terms.
Basically:
From continental US to Hawaii
40,000 miles one way, non-refundable
80,000 miles one way, refundable
I proceed to book 2 passengers for a first class, round trip, non-refundable ticket in January. Looks like it would be 160,000 total.

When I look at my choices during online booking, all I see are single tickets at 80,000 one way (160,000 round trip) available. The miles cost total would be 320,000 for two round trip tickets! Not the 160,000 as shown on their award chart.
So I look at different dates, weeks out, only 360,000. Look at months out, only 320,000. Look at different 4 different islands to where they fly, only 360,000.

This can't be right, so I call Alaska Air. The agent looks at the options and doesn't find a non-refundable ticket available until NEXT SEPTEMBER, 2018!
HUH??? ...?? REALLY??? Those are my internal reactions.
I ask to speak to a manager and I get the run around about how those tickets are not available, they have been bought, lots of timeshare people flying, etc. Yes, sure but for 12 months, on every flight!?!? I mean first class is available, I just can't get a non-refundable miles ticket.

Here's the way I see it:
We all know Black Friday Ads......"Buy this TV for $800 dollars, its a great deal!!" You get to the store only to hear that ONE TV in the ad has been sold but they have another TV for $1600. That's what's happening here, IMHO except I am not even getting a better TV for $1600, it the exact same one. In this case with Alaska Air, it the exact same seat for twice the miles cost!

They are forcing me to use double the miles for the exact same seat when there is no availability to 4 different locations for 12 months.
There seems to be something a miss here.

Does any one else see a problem with this? I have always had a great experience with Alaska Air but now that they are getting bigger, it seems very shaddy to be to pull this kind of bait and switch IMHO.

Am on off base here?
I feel taken advantage of.
Thanks for any insight the board can provide.
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oldmanlax74 is offline  
Old Oct 24, 17, 1:10 pm
  #2  
 
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What you are describing is not an alaska airlines specific issue. Every single US-based airline has the same process - all the low cost half-price miles seat are taken about 1 year out.

So what you are seeing and what the agent told you is completely normal.

Think about it as a ticket to a popular play (like Hamilton) or very hard to get restaurant or limited availability black friday sales as you said. Everyone knows what the deal is there and this is why they line up at 3am. Same over here. The airlines release a few low-price award seats, and people do buy them up right when they release, so you need to "line up" one year out otherwise just post angrily on the internet.

For reference, I booked such tickets on the dot at midnight when they released 1 year out. After a few hours, low price tickets for that flight were gone and only the higher price remained.

Again - this is not an alaska airlines specific issue. There are 300 million people in America, and many know about a highly sought after low price ticket to hawaii releasing one year out. You don't think it will be taken up?

If you want to take advantage of the better pricing, start booking your award travels 1 year out like many other people on this forum.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:16 pm
  #3  
 
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January (which is about 2 months out when awards generally open up ~330 days in advance)+ travel to a high demand area+peak travel time= you're too late to the game to be picky.

This isn't an Alaska airlines problem & it's not a redemption problem either. It's you're asking too much, too late.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:23 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by nomiiiii View Post
What you are describing is not an alaska airlines specific issue. Every single US-based airline has the same process - all the low cost half-price miles seat are taken about 1 year out.

So what you are seeing and what the agent told you is completely normal.

Think about it as a ticket to a popular play (like Hamilton) or very hard to get restaurant. The airlines release a few low-price award seats, and people do buy them up right when they release.

For reference, I booked such tickets on the dot at midnight when they released 1 year out. After a few hours, low price tickets for that flight were gone and only the higher price remained.

Again - this is not an alaska airlines specific issue. There are 300 million people in America, and many know about a highly sought after low price ticket to hawaii releasing one year out. You don't think it will be taken up?

If you want to take advantage of the better pricing, start booking your award travels 1 year out like many other people on this forum.
Thanks for the reply. The thing I see are seats are still available in first class. Lots of them. If the case is as you speak, how many seats at the non-refundable fare are released compared to refundable?
There are laws to advertising, specifically bait and switch laws.
Can't post any urls yet as I am new but google bait and switch laws.

Here's a qucik excerpt:
"Bait and switch advertising is a violation of consumer laws. It is a type of fraudulent business practice where one party, such as a manufacturer or business, will offer the "bait". This could be a product that is advertised at a very low cost and is designed to lure in a customer. Once the customer is attracted, the manufacturer will pull the "switch". The proposed product will no longer be available at the advertised price, but instead it will be offered at a much higher price or an altogether different product will be offered."

This seems to be such a case. Would like to find out more. This could be a deceptive trade practice that literally effects millions. Just because they do it doesn't mean its right. I wonder if it has been taken up before. There is no mention of any limited seats in their terms and conditions on their award chart page. I feel flyers are being taken advantage of with these types of practices. Certainly would not expect this from Alaska.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:26 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Yoshi212 View Post
January (which is about 2 months out when awards generally open up ~330 days in advance)+ travel to a high demand area+peak travel time= you're too late to the game to be picky.

This isn't an Alaska airlines problem & it's not a redemption problem either. It's you're asking too much, too late.
Thanks for chiming in but did you read that I checked for many months out not just 2 (3 actually but who's counting)? The agent said nothing was available until September 2018.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:30 pm
  #6  
 
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The thing I see are seats are still available in first class. Lots of them.

Yes, you are welcome to pay cash or the higher award price for them.

The agent is correct. When they said "no seats available" the agent meant "no seat is available at the low promotional pricing". The simple fact of the matter is that every flight has 1 (maybe 2) seats at the promotional pricing, and people like myself book them 1 year out.

I actually sort of agree that it is false advertising - but every single airline on this earth does the same thing, and what you're asking for will simply not happen unless you also support nationalizing all airlines and giving control to the people. I personally support socialism and would wholeheartedly agree US having a "public option" for airline prices or declaring free travel as a human right which you enjoy by virtue of being a resident in this great country. Please feel free to vote in representatives who support this vision.

If not, then you'll have to be on your computer at midnight exactly 1 year out when the low promotional pricing award ticket is released.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:44 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by nomiiiii View Post
The thing I see are seats are still available in first class. Lots of them.

Yes, you are welcome to pay cash or the higher award price for them.

The agent is correct. When they said "no seats available" the agent meant "no seat is available at the low promotional pricing". The simple fact of the matter is that every flight has 1 (maybe 2) seats at the promotional pricing, and people like myself book them 1 year out.

I actually sort of agree that it is false advertising - but every single airline on this earth does the same thing, and what you're asking for will simply not happen unless you also support nationalizing all airlines and giving control to the people. I personally support socialism and would wholeheartedly agree US having a "public option" for airline prices or declaring free travel as a human right which you enjoy by virtue of being a resident in this great country. Please feel free to vote in representatives who support this vision.

If not, then you'll have to be on your computer at midnight exactly 1 year out when the low promotional pricing award ticket is released.
I do appreciate the feedback.

I do believe this to be deceptive advertising. However, it would need to be proven. It could be a huge class action for sure. Need to consult with some attorneys. Without knowing for sure how many seats are released at what level, all we have are opinions and the word of the corporation who, at this point, I have lost trust in.

Right now it should be disclosed on their award page but it is not. How many have fallen into this trap. It says you have X and you can get Y with two terms. I spent money buying miles and planned based on the award levels presented. Those are actual damages and can be quantified. How many others fell into this same deception, if that is what it is?

I think here with Alaska Air it could be a case of neglecting to put those terms into their terms and conditions on the award page. Or it could actually be much larger bait and switch case involving the airline industry as a whole. Need to look as see if it has ever been examined.

However, definitely don't agree with you on socialism. I worked for my rewards and don't want to share them with someone who hasn't...but that's another discussion entirely!!
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:45 pm
  #8  
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OP's question is whether he is "off base here?" Yes, he is.

There are plenty of seats, but not at the dirt cheap mileage rates he wants. That is because the seats OP wants were purchased just about a year in advance when they go on sale.

Cheap seats, cash or award, are capacity controlled on all carriers. That is what inventory & revenue management is all about. Nobody in their right mind would purchase non-refundable seats until the day before travel if they could wait that long. So, they don't.

If you feel taken advantage of, that is because you did not read the clear disclosures that these seats are capacity controlled. If you want to go in 2019, start planning now and then make your purchase a year ahead and you will be fine. Or pay for the luxury of waiting.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:47 pm
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You have no case. The alaska airlines mileage plan terms and conditions clearly specify the availability issue.

In accumulating mileage, members may not rely upon the continued availability of any award or award level, and members may not be able to obtain awards for all destinations or flights. Alaska Airlines may, among other things:

- Change Mileage Plan benefits, participant affiliations, or cities served
- Limit the number of seats available for award travel or otherwise restrict the continued availability of travel awards or special offers
- Increase or decrease the mileage required for an award


https://www.alaskaair.com/account/join-mileage-plan (click on terms and conditions)
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:49 pm
  #10  
 
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Yes, I did read that you and the agent searched and the same rules apply. If fact it corroborates my other statements that you're asking too much too late. A few low level award seats (non-refundable, low mileage tickets) are the first to go when they open up ~330 days before travel. It's the end of October now and the agent was able to find tickets in September...do the math. Those low level awards are also what is available to partner awards. You're not just up against AS award members but also the partners.

You said January so between then and now is 2+ months but not quite 3 months. You could be trying traveling to fly on January 30th or January 3rd.

It still boils down to if you want to travel you have to pay the fare available wether that is cash, miles/points or a combination. Welcome to the world of award redemptions.

Originally Posted by oldmanlax74 View Post
Thanks for chiming in but did you read that I checked for many months out not just 2 (3 actually but who's counting)? The agent said nothing was available until September 2018.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:53 pm
  #11  
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Iíd certainly look into flying somewhere else, using partners. Iíd never use 160k to fly RT to Hawaii. Fly to Europe or Asia at those rates.

Award redemptions can be challenging. You need to understand how it works. Some awards are very tough to find. They may only have 1-2 seats available on each flight at lowest level, in F.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:53 pm
  #12  
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Again, I appreciate the replies and education.
For all chiming in, do you feel the terms and the award page are sufficient? I attached the screenshot in my first post.
Yes, I do understand there are other pages with other terms however, do you believe its sufficient to have only two terms posted (see pic) when looking to book award travel?

Maybe legally it is a stretch but if it were my business, I'd put those terms on the award travel page to remind people, like myself of what the expectation is. Thoughts?

Again, I'd like to know from an independent source how many seats are available for the lower award category compared to the higher. In that information, we'd be able to glean if this is indeed a bait and switch or not.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 1:57 pm
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Originally Posted by oldmanlax74 View Post
Again, I appreciate the replies and education.
For all chiming in, do you feel the terms and the award page are sufficient? I attached the screenshot in my first post.
Yes, I do understand there are other pages with other terms however, do you believe its sufficient to have only two terms posted (see pic) when looking to book award travel?

Maybe legally it is a stretch but if it were my business, I'd put those terms on the award travel page to remind people, like myself of what the expectation is. Thoughts?

Again, I'd like to know from an independent source how many seats are available for the lower award category compared to the higher. In that information, we'd be able to glean if this is indeed a bait and switch or not.
Unless they have made no available low awards at all, youíre wasting your time.

You just donít understand how availability works. Youíre coming in at the last minute, and donít like the results because you assumed the low F seats would be available.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by oldmanlax74 View Post
Again, I'd like to know from an independent source how many seats are available for the lower award category compared to the higher. In that information, we'd be able to glean if this is indeed a bait and switch or not.
Knowing the amount of high and low level seats is irrelevant - what is the "correct" answer? Even if an airline guaranteed X number of low level award seats on each flight, it's first-come, first-served. If X number of people snatch those up before you, it doesn't matter if X=1 or X=50.

I understand your frustration and disappointment, but there isn't any wrongdoing here on the airline's part.
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Old Oct 24, 17, 2:13 pm
  #15  
 
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Might I suggest you book the available tickets the agent offered up? Plan in advance, over in the Alaska section people are always talking about snatching up tickets as soon as they get loaded into the system and "go on sale".

Or, use miles and money. Not the absolute best value, but it could save you up to $200 a ticket, plus you'll still gain miles and status qualifying miles/segments for it. Discount your Hawaii trip and bank some more miles and stuff. Not the best option, but it might still be available for your target dates this time around...
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