While devaluations of frequent traveler programs are unfortunately pretty common these days – Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles program devaluated their miles last year by up to 50% – this years award changes by Philippine Airlines are a massive overhaul and serious devaluation of your miles of up to 184% – the worst I’ve ever seen! Even worse, it was done without any notice, effective retroactively, so you have no chance to redeem your miles earned in the past at the old value! Find out more on how this effects you below!
This year, Philippine Airlines has gone beyond the changes of miles needed for flights and made an award redemption even more difficult and expensive. Instead of having a pretty straight forward distance based award chart with redemption rates by fare class for economy, Economy FlexyFlyer, Premium Economy and business class tickets, PAL introduced multiple award levels for each fare class: In addition to the Standard Economy awards, there are no Flex 1, Flex 2, Flex 3 and Flex 4 awards. And for Business Class, you now have Standard and Flex awards. With the introduction of so many different award classes, the miles needed for an award have changed drastically: Some of the “Standard” awards have dropped by more than 20% – that was to be expected as all the routes in question have offered very cheap economy fares over the last year, making a redemption on these routes generally unattractive. At the same time, the flexible awards have increased by up to 186% ! That is by far the biggest devaluation of an airline program I have witnessed – ever! You can see the extent of the carnage in the table below (all miles one-way from Manila):
In addition to awards being very difficult to obtain – you have to go to a PAL office in the Philippines to pick up your ticket – they are now also becoming prohibitively expensive. While it remains to be seen, how many awards will be made available at which award level, given PAL’s track record, I’d expect the “Standard” awards to be elusive, only available on deeply discounted, empty flights.
Conclusion: Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles program was not a very attractive program to begin with, but after this latest, shocking devaluation, Mabuhay miles have very little value left! Not only is this one of the deepest devaluation I have ever seen, PAL again made these changes retroactively, without any advanced notice to travelers, completely destroying any trust you might have had into the reward program management! The program is showing no respect for their frequent fliers and certainly doesn’t deserve our loyalty!
I will follow up with a new evaluation of the value of the miles and a full re-evalution of the program in an updated review!