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Alaska confirms: 'travel hackers' killed their Emirates Offerings

Alaska confirms: 'travel hackers' killed their Emirates Offerings

Old Apr 1, 16, 9:25 am
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
I completely disagree.

If Alaska had given warning, there would have been a rush/crush of 'travel hackers' buying/churning miles and soaking up every available seat at a huge cost to Alaska. Blogs would have gone crazy with 'ACT NOW, BEFORE ITS TOO LATE!!! BUY MILES! SIGN UP FOR A CARD AT MY AFFILIATE LINK!!!'

Alaska set those levels up to reward their BIS flyers with a nice little perk: cheap-ish award flights on Emirates. But with the cards and mile sales the hacking community was not just abusing that perk, they were gloating about abusing the perk. And would have done so harder and more had there been a sunset period.

So it WAS the hackers, not only who took so much advantage of the redemption levels that they had to raise them, but also that led to immediate implementation of them.

We need to own it when we strangle the goose that lays the golden eggs. Bloggers most of all.
It amuses me to hear people on THIS FORUM complain about "travel hackers". You do know it was Alaska selling miles a 2.1 cpm right? And people from around the world, were just buying up points en masse to get EK F on the cheap.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 9:29 am
  #17  
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Do you really think Alaska management was terrified that the few thousand people who read these blogs would act a certain way?
Terrified? No. Making a rational business decision for the betterment of the company? Absolutely.

Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Especially as spending miles reduces Alaska's liability and they'd profit from all the mile purchases in the short term.
If the reduced liability doesn't cover the cost to the partner then they're losing money on each transaction and hoping to make it up in volume. That's a great way to lose a lot of money.

The bilateral was recently updated and it almost certainly included new settlement rates on awards. That's why the numbers changed. And the "loyal" customers who bought points only when they are discounted and then cashed out at the high end may be playing by the rules but that doesn't make them good customers. Actually, they almost certainly are not the truly loyal nor the profitable ones.

n.b. The link above is to my blog or to one which I am a regular contributor. FT rules require that I disclose that in the post.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 9:47 am
  #18  
 
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My thoughts on this entire situation -

- People are giving Alaska far too little credit. Of course they knew giving advance notice would lead to a mad rush of bookings, similar to AA. That's why they didn't. There are people saying that AS were simply ignorant and didn't know how upset people would be... really?

- The "travel hackers" (myself/ourselves included) are the very customers that AS are trying to weed off with this change. So watching them cry that they will "never trust AS again" is amusing.

- Equally amusing are the people who think tweeting will make an iota of difference. Especially tweets like this one. I'm sure Alaska will change it back just because you tweeted so...

There are only two groups of people who have legitimate grievances with this change. The first one are those who bought miles from Alaska specifically, and AS is making it right by offering refunds. The latter are legitimate AS elites/frequent flyers who were saving up for EK redemptions. For the latter, AS perhaps could have offered MVP Gold/75K's who qualified by flying the required # of EQM's on AS metal an exemption from the devaluation. Just a thought.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 10:11 am
  #19  
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Terrified? No. Making a rational business decision for the betterment of the company? Absolutely.

If the reduced liability doesn't cover the cost to the partner then they're losing money on each transaction and hoping to make it up in volume. That's a great way to lose a lot of money.

The bilateral was recently updated and it almost certainly included new settlement rates on awards. That's why the numbers changed. And the "loyal" customers who bought points only when they are discounted and then cashed out at the high end may be playing by the rules but that doesn't make them good customers. Actually, they almost certainly are not the truly loyal nor the profitable ones.

n.b. The link above is to my blog or to one which I am a regular contributor. FT rules require that I disclose that in the post.
Even if a very recent revision to FFPA between AS and EK is what led to this sudden change, AS had some time to provide at least a bit of advance notice to its customers about the change in price.

My bet is that AS just didn't want to risk losing any more money (likely profitable money) from AS miles being gotten/used for redemptions on EK flights and that they decided to maximize quarterly unit numbers (not just profits but also margins) by not providing even a window of a day before hitting its customers with this price change.

Is it the AS woman who left St. Peter, Minnesota who was in on this? Wouldn't surprise some.

AS seems to be on the path toward aping DL in how it treats its "loyalty" program customers.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 11:20 am
  #20  
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Originally Posted by 84fiero View Post
the lifespan of "exceptionally good deals" seems to often be inversely related to the amount of publicity received...particularly publicity that appears to be bragging or similar. Someone at the company (or US Mint) will want to cut their losses or will be embarrassed and feel compelled to take action.
and bookings into small F cabins following blog posts

credit card issuers may also be involved sometimes
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Old Apr 1, 16, 11:34 am
  #21  
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Even if a very recent revision to FFPA between AS and EK is what led to this sudden change, AS had some time to provide at least a bit of advance notice to its customers about the change in price.
They probably had some time window where they knew things were changing. But final details may not have been known until late in the game. Even so, while I agree that no notice sucks, this is not the first time it has happened and it won't be the last. And in the mean time those who think they're gaming the system and know so much more/better than the programs will continue to take the hit when it does happen.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 11:44 am
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by belfordrocks View Post
- The "travel hackers" (myself/ourselves included) are the very customers that AS are trying to weed off with this change. So watching them cry that they will "never trust AS again" is amusing.
This. This is the whole point, was to get rid of churners and hackers. Antagonizing them does just that.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 11:53 am
  #23  
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Originally Posted by AAExPlat View Post

Have you tried booking CX at the booking window t-330 days recently? It is a competitive sport. And then there are the bloggers with their award booking services.
And in a related story... this just in... Travel Award booking services have a special contact to call at Alaska to book award tickets for their clients.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 11:54 am
  #24  
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
If the reduced liability doesn't cover the cost to the partner then they're losing money on each transaction and hoping to make it up in volume. That's a great way to lose a lot of money.
Precisely.

What do 'travel hackers' expect travel companies should do when there are people gloating about how they are hacking that company and encouraging others to hack them too? Provide a period of time where they will continue to let hackers hack them, or shut the vulnerability down immediately?

If your business was being hacked, what would you do!?
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Old Apr 1, 16, 1:15 pm
  #25  
 
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
Precisely.

What do 'travel hackers' expect travel companies should do when there are people gloating about how they are hacking that company and encouraging others to hack them too? Provide a period of time where they will continue to let hackers hack them, or shut the vulnerability down immediately?

If your business was being hacked, what would you do!?
kokonutz. To those of us running or managing a business, this is obvious. If you are one of the typical "travel hackers", I suspect it is far less obvious than you and I may think.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 1:44 pm
  #26  
 
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It was bound to happen. Lucky, TPG, Gary - all the bloggers pumping the EK F "experience" as a way to get BofA AS Visa conversions, which meant $$$, which meant even more $ spent drawing eyeballs to blog posts, which meant quite a few people outside the 'hobby' found out about the deal. And in this age of social media, perhaps no first class product on earth is more share-friendly than EK's gimmicky experience ("Hey Facebook, I took a shower in a MFing plane! Look at all this fake gold trim!"), and this free advertising exposure undoubtedly led even more to jump on the bandwagon.

If EK F is your kind of thing (it's not for me; I could never justify the opportunity cost, and if I did, it would be for a true F experience), then using AS miles represented a good deal. A very good deal, in fact; so good that EK understandably got pissed and told AS to knock it off. AS, meanwhile, was complicit in all of this, making a pretty penny selling miles for those seeking to top off their accounts towards an EK F redemption. I'm sure that if AS still wanted to have access to EK F award inventory, EK probably made them deliver a no-notice change, so as not to be totally swamped by desperate award bookers at the last minute.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 2:09 pm
  #27  
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complaints get traffic

+ US obsession with lawsuits
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Old Apr 1, 16, 2:12 pm
  #28  
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Is the AS obsession about lawsuits the reason why AS decided to allow for refunds of miles bought in March? The US isn't the friendliest jurisdiction for mileage program lawsuits.

Originally Posted by gvol21 View Post
It was bound to happen. Lucky, TPG, Gary - all the bloggers pumping the EK F "experience" as a way to get BofA AS Visa conversions, which meant $$$, which meant even more $ spent drawing eyeballs to blog posts, which meant quite a few people outside the 'hobby' found out about the deal. And in this age of social media, perhaps no first class product on earth is more share-friendly than EK's gimmicky experience ("Hey Facebook, I took a shower in a MFing plane! Look at all this fake gold trim!"), and this free advertising exposure undoubtedly led even more to jump on the bandwagon.

If EK F is your kind of thing (it's not for me; I could never justify the opportunity cost, and if I did, it would be for a true F experience), then using AS miles represented a good deal. A very good deal, in fact; so good that EK understandably got pissed and told AS to knock it off. AS, meanwhile, was complicit in all of this, making a pretty penny selling miles for those seeking to top off their accounts towards an EK F redemption. I'm sure that if AS still wanted to have access to EK F award inventory, EK probably made them deliver a no-notice change, so as not to be totally swamped by desperate award bookers at the last minute.
I doubt that this went down the way the "blame Emirates" crowd may have wanted it to go. AS was more than merely complicit in this no-notice devaluation of AS Mileage Plan.

I never used AS's program for EK flights, had no plans to do so, and likely never would have. So this award chart pricing increase doesn't do me any harm. But this is a sort of notice from AS to its customers: AS is willing to do something like this without any advance notice, and thus collecting lots of AS miles over a longer period of time in anticipation of redeeming them for some kind of extraordinarily memorable "aspirational" award is at your own risk.
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Old Apr 1, 16, 2:20 pm
  #29  
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Airlines are culpable as well:

Originally Posted by Dieuwer View Post
And who created this "abominable monster" of travel hacking? The airlines who salivate at selling trillions of miles to the likes of AMEX and BofA perhaps? Those financial institutions that now need to sell their credit card products by providing a large mileage bonus incentive? That people rightfully want to use for their desired trip? Which makes the airlines cry faul as they do not wish to "give away" their J/F seats for the miles they so willingly sold?
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Old Apr 1, 16, 2:23 pm
  #30  
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
...and thus collecting lots of AS miles over a longer period of time in anticipation of redeeming them for some kind of extraordinarily memorable "aspirational" award is at your own risk.
And it always was. Say you needed 100K for an award and you were chugging along "normally" and finally made it to 75K after some period of time. Or even to 95K. You still needed more and a 30-day warning probably wouldn't have been enough to get the rest.

What warning/window would have been sufficient for a "normal" member of the program who earns through a combination of flying and regular (not churning/MS) co-brand CC activity? Someone will say 30 days and someone else will demand at least 90. There's no sufficient answer.

As for lawsuits, I think that the UA MMer suit set sufficient precedent to show that there is not a valid claim, but that doesn't mean someone wouldn't try. But I doubt that was a significant factor at play here.
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