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Alaska Airlines Clips the Wings on Its Generous Price Matching Program

People Walk to the arrival area from an Alaska Airlines plane on August 16, 2013.
People walk to the arrival area from an Alaska Airlines plane on August 16, 2013. LaraBelova/Getty Images

In an effort to keep its profits high, Alaska Airlines dealt a blow to its loyal customers this week.

It’s imposing big restrictions on its popular price guarantee feature, much like changes made to its generous change fee policy earlier this year.

After Sept. 1, it will be nearly impossible for customers to get a price match guarantee refund.  

What’s Changing in the Alaska Air Price Guarantee Policy

Previously, if you booked a flight at alaskaair.com and later saw the price of the same flight drop, you could receive a credit for the price difference — whether it was $5 or $100.

New restrictions require any price guarantee request to be submitted within 24 hours of the purchase.

Found it $5 cheaper on Orbitz? Not gonna fly anymore.

The price difference also will have to be more than $10, according to the price guarantee terms and conditions.

There’s very little wiggle room, even for Alaska Airlines elite status members.

“I’m sad that’s going away,” said Cyndia Miller, who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.

She’s used the price match guarantee on a number of occasions, including the time she and her husband each received a $200 credit when the price of their flight dropped.

That $400 credit went into their Alaska Air online wallet toward future flights.

What Else is Alaska Airlines Changing?

Alaska Airlines’ good old days of free last-minute flight changes are no more.

Earlier this year, it announced a new change fee policy that will charge travelers $125 to change or cancel a flight unless they’re elite status MVP Gold or 75k members.

“We have some of the most generous fee structures in the industry,” said Bobbie Egan, spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines.

In June, it reduced the size of carry-on bags from 24 x 17 x 10 inches to 22 x 14 x 9 inches to eliminate compatibility conflicts with other domestic and international airlines.

Other coming changes include extra fees for exit-row seats — which currently are available only to its elite status members — and demand-based pricing for its Premium Economy seats.

The biggest upcoming change, though, is the rollout of Saver Fares slated for early 2019.

Saver Fares will be Alaska Airlines’ version of the basic economy ticket, but without some of the restrictions seen on other airlines.

Saver Fare flyers can select their seats, but only at the back of the plane; they won’t be allowed to sit up front. They’ll board last, be unable to change or cancel tickets after the 24-hour federally mandated period and won’t be able to use an upgrade perk if they’re elite status members.

The upside? Carry-ons are included.

While Miller was bummed about the changes to the price guarantee policy, she seemed optimistic about the introduction of Saver Fares.

“I’m one of those bargain people,” she said. “I like good deals.”

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s all about basic economy tickets.

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