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Best Ways to Use Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

Best Ways to Use Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

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This article was last updated May 13, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ is one of the best loyalty award programs in the business, thanks to great redemption rates, stopovers on one-way awards and reasonable routing rules.

J.D. Power & Associates’ 2018 Airline Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study rated Alaska’s Mileage Plan third-highest in overall member satisfaction, with only Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and JetBlue Airways TrueBlue scoring higher.

Alaska Airlines and its regional partners fly 44 million passengers a year to more than 115 destinations across the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. The airline also uses a network of global partners to offer travelers international flights.

This cheat sheet will show how best to earn and redeem the miles you earn under Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan loyalty program.

In this article hide

Which credit cards earn Alaska Airlines miles?

Alaska Airlines offers two credit cards: the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card and the Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Credit Card, both tied to its Mileage Plan loyalty program.

If your application is approved with a credit line of $5,000 or more, you’ll get the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card; if your credit line is approved for less than $5,000, you’ll get the Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Credit Card.

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card: Get 40,000 bonus miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening, plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) with this offer. Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases. Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Credit Card: Earn 30,000 bonus miles and a $0 companion fare offer after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases. Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

The information related to the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card and the Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Credit Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Award charts: How much do Alaska awards cost?

Alaska’s award charts are somewhat unique. Instead of having award charts covering different regions, Alaska has different award charts for each of its airline partners. Additionally, Alaska only publishes pricing for a set number of routes, and awards are only permitted between regions listed for each partner.

You can view Alaska Airlines’ award charts here, but we’ve organized award charts by region to make it easier to see all your options when departing from the continental U.S.:

Continental U.S. and Alaska to Africa

 

Note: Check each partner’s definition of North America when booking any award travel, as each may define it differently. You’re responsible for paying all applicable taxes, fees, and checked baggage charges for award travel, and a non-refundable $12.50 fee per person, each way, for each award booked on a partner airline. British Airways mandates a carrier-imposed charge, ranging from approximately $150 USD to more than $1,000 USD, for all awards redeemed by Mileage Plan members. Request your partner award reservation on Cathay Pacific by calling Alaska Airlines reservations at 800-252-7522. Mileage Plan™ awards are not eligible for Emirates’ first and business class chauffeur-drive service.

Continental U.S. and Alaska to Asia

 

 

Note: American Airlines’ Asia Zone 1 awards include Japan, Korea and Mongolia. All other Asia travel is considered Zone 2. American’s business/first class is first class on a two-cabin aircraft or business class on a three-cabin aircraft. American’s first class is first class on a three-cabin aircraft. Not valid for travel in business/first on nonstop flights between New York-JFK and Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle. Request your partner award reservation on Cathay Pacific by calling Alaska Airlines reservations at 800-252-7522. Mileage Plan™ awards are not eligible for Emirates’ first and business class chauffeur-drive service.

The following blackout dates apply for travel on Korean Air between North America and Asia in 2019: May 16-July 12 and Dec. 10-23. The following blackout dates apply for travel on Korean Air between North America and Asia in 2020: May 14-July 10 and Dec. 10-23. One-way Korean Air award bookings are charged the same number of miles as round-trip travel. Korean Air flights, when used one-way in combination with Alaska Airlines or another partner airline to create a round-trip itinerary (routing restrictions apply), will be charged half the applicable Korean Air round-trip miles. If any part of a round-trip itinerary is flown on Korean Air, it becomes ineligible for any refund of the unflown portions. The following blackout dates apply for travel on Korean Air between Korea and Southeast Asia in 2019: Jan. 1, Feb. 1-7, July 12-Aug. 18, Sept. 11-16 and Oct. 3-7, Dec. 20-31. The following blackout dates apply for travel on Korean Air between Korea and Southeast Asia in 2020: Jan 1, Jan. 22-28, July 12-Aug. 16, Sept. 25-Oct. 5 and Dec. 20-31. Korean Air does not allow lap infants in business class. A full award must be redeemed for all passengers, including children under 24 months old. Hainan Airlines mandates a carrier-imposed charge, ranging from $100 to more than $750, for all awards redeemed by Mileage Plan members.

Continental U.S. and Alaska to Australia

 

 

Note: Korean Air does not offer one-way awards. One-way Korean Air award bookings are charged the same number of miles as round-trip travel. Korean Air flights, when used one way in combination with Alaska Airlines or another partner airline to create a round-trip itinerary, will be charged half the applicable Korean Air round-trip miles. If any part of a round-trip itinerary is flown on Korean Air, it becomes ineligible for any refund of the unflown portions. Korean Air does not allow lap infants in business class. A full award must be redeemed for all passengers, including children under 24 months old.

Continental U.S. and Alaska to Canada

 

 

Note: *For Alaska awards, the highest level in each award pricing band is a refundable award. All continental U.S. awards are based on travel within the continental United States or between the continental U.S. and Canada. The continental U.S. includes the lower 48 states as well as Alaska, unless otherwise specified. Intra-state awards are based on travel within one individual state, including Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington.

American Airlines’ business/first class is first class on a two-cabin aircraft or business class on a three-cabin aircraft.

Continental U.S. and Alaska to the Caribbean

 

Continental U.S. and Alaska  to Central America

*For Alaska awards, the highest level in each award pricing band is a refundable award. Low awards on American are available from Mar 15-Jun. 30 and Aug./Oct./Nov. High awards are available from Jan. 1-March 14 and July/Sept./Dec.

Continental U.S. and Alaska to Continental U.S. and Alaska

 

Continental U.S. and Alaska to Europe

 

 

Alaska Airlines has temporarily removed the ability to search for Icelandair award travel due to a high rate of booking failure. The airline is also aware of an issue with Korean Air award booking failures affecting both alaskaair.com and its call centers. It is working with Korean Air to investigate and resolve this issue, but recommends that if your travel plans are flexible, try again using different dates or partner airlines.

Note: Low awards on American are available from Oct. 15-May 15. High awards are available from May 16-Oct. 14. British Airways mandates a carrier-imposed charge ranging from $150 USD to more than $1,000 USD for awards redeemed by Mileage Plan members. Mileage Plan awards are not eligible for the Emirates First Class and Business Class chauffeur-drive service. Icelandair mandates a carrier-imposed charge ranging from $150 to more than $300 for all awards redeemed by Mileage Plan members.

Continental U.S. and Alaska to Hawaii

Note: *For Alaska awards, the highest level in each award pricing band is a refundable award.

Continental U.S. and Alaska to India and South Asia

Continental U.S. and Alaska to Mexico

Continental U.S. and Alaska to the Middle East

 

Continental U.S. and Alaska to New Zealand

 

Continental U.S. and Alaska to South America

Note: South America Zone 2 includes Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. All other South America travel is considered Zone 1. Make a partner award reservation on LAN by calling Alaska Airlines reservations at 800-252-7522. Low awards on LAN are available from March 15-June 30 and Aug./Oct./Nov. High awards are available from Jan. 1-March 14 and July/Sept./Dec.

Continental U.S. and Alaska to South Pacific

What airlines can you book and where can you find award space?

Although Alaska Airlines isn’t part of an alliance, it still has many partners with which you can book with Mileage Plan miles. Below is a list of all of the airlines you can book with Alaska miles and where you can check for award space.

Region Airline Bookable on AlaskaAirlines.com?
Asia Cathay Pacific No. Search CathayPacific.com
Asia Hainan Yes
Asia Japan Airlines Yes
Asia Korean Air Yes
Asia Singapore Airlines No
Europe Aer Lingus No
Europe British Airways Yes
Europe Condor Yes
Europe Finnair Yes
Europe Icelandair No
Latin America LATAM (only on LAN-operated flights) No
Middle East Emirates Yes
North America American Yes
North America PenAir Yes
North America Ravn Alaska Yes
Pacific Fiji Yes
Pacific Qantas Yes

How to book awards with Alaska miles

Booking awards with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles is exactly like booking a paid fare. However, award travel on Cathay Pacific must be booked over the phone by calling 800-252-7522. All other partners can be booked online by following the steps outlined below.

  1. Go to Alaskaair.com.
  2. Enter your origin, destination, and preferred date(s) of travel. Be sure to check the box that says ‘Use miles’ to search for award tickets.

  1. The options that are available will be displayed including all classes of service that are available with corresponding prices. Choose the itinerary you are interested in.

  1. Confirm the flight you would like to book.

  1. Log in to your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account and complete the booking.

What are the award change and booking fees?

  • There is a call center booking fee for new awards booked over the phone of $15, which is nonrefundable.
  • There is a nonrefundable partner award fee of $25, which applies to all awards using an Alaska Air airline partner.
  • The change/cancellation fee is $125, which applies to each one made more than 24 hours after booking.

Award reservations may be changed online or by calling Alaska Airlines at 800-252-7522.

If you need to cancel award travel, you’ll have to pay the cancellation fee and request that the miles be redeposited. Your miles will go back into your account, and any taxes paid will be refunded. However, the call center booking fee and the partner award fee are nonrefundable.

If you’re unable to travel, you must cancel before the flight departs. If you don’t, your trip will be canceled and your ticket value forfeited.

Best award values: Where to get the most from your miles

Alaska offers some incredible redemption options; here are a few of them.

Simple routing rules and great prices to South America on LATAM

Unlike many programs, Alaska doesn’t have complicated routing rules to South America, which gives you more options to book flights there. Additionally, regardless of where in South America you are flying, prices are always the same if you’re flying LATAM.

Redeeming Alaska miles for flights on LATAM costs 25,000 miles in economy class during off-peak times, 30,000 miles during peak times and 45,000 miles to fly in business class.

Check out How to book LATAM award flights without using LATAM miles

Great prices for Cathay Pacific in all classes

Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles for Cathay Pacific flights is an exceptional value across the board. But in order to check for award space, you must either call Alaska Airlines or look on  British Airways’ website, since Cathay Pacific itineraries don’t show up on Alaska Air website searches.

However, be careful! Alaska’s access to Cathay Pacific inventory is more limited than Cathay’s other partners such as British Airways and American Airlines. If you do plan to book Cathay flights with your Alaska miles, we recommend calling Alaska right away to verify award space.

Cathay Pacific can be used to book to various regions, and award pricing is dependent on the region. Flights from the Continental U.S. and Alaska to Asia on Cathay Pacific cost 30,000 in economy, 35,000 in Premium Economy, 50,000 in business, and 70,000 in first class.

Qantas between the U.S. and Australia

Qantas awards are a solid value — if you can find them. Award prices between the Continental U.S. and Australia on Qantas are 42,500 miles in economy, 47,500 in Premium Economy, 55,000 in business and 70,000 in first class.

Short-haul flights on Alaska airlines start at 5,000 miles each way

Using Alaska miles on Alaska’s own flights can also deliver amazing value. Flights start as low as 5,000 miles and this includes flights to and within Alaska, which can be very expensive.

The flight itinerary example shown below starts at $173 in economy.

Emirates first class to India

If you want to experience the luxury of an Emirates first class suite, the best deal with Alaska miles is to book a ticket to India.

For 150,000 miles, you can fly one way from Seattle and get a free stopover in Dubai for as long as you’d like. That’s the same price you’d pay if you just flew straight Dubai without continuing on to India. And you get to experience the suite on both legs of your trip.

You can’t book this fare with cash on the Alaska Airlines website, so see the same flight, booked directly at the Emirates website, below:

Tip: Keep in mind that Alaska Airlines offers different pricing for different partners. That means that not all awards between two regions will cost the same number of miles. One partner may be a significantly better deal than another partner for flights between the exact same two cities.

How can you upgrade with miles?

It’s possible to upgrade Alaska Airlines operated flights to first class for 15,000 miles. This is a good value for a long flight, but you’re probably better off using them for reward flights.

Can you book stopovers with Alaska miles?

One stopover is allowed in each direction of travel. As a general rule, the stopover on an award ticket will be required to be in the hub of the airline being flown. For example, if you are flying Cathay Pacific from the U.S. to Thailand, you could stop for one, two or more days in its hub city of Hong Kong.

Can you put awards on hold?

Alaska doesn’t allow you  to hold awards. You must have the miles in your account to book award travel.

Alternative miles to book Alaska flights

You can use miles in any of Alaska Airlines’ partner programs to book a flight on Alaska Airlines. However, the most common two partners to consider booking with are American Airlines AAdvantage® and British Airways Executive Club.

Another option that can be overlooked is using Asia Miles to book Alaska Airlines flights. Asia Miles is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou® Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards® and is exceptionally generous with the number of stopovers allowed.

Other ways to redeem miles

You can use your Alaska miles to book rooms at more than 400,000 properties worldwide with Alaska Airlines Hotels, powered by Rocketmiles, using just miles or a mix of miles and cash. Plus, Alaska Airlines credit cardholders receive discount redemption levels when booking hotel stays.

You can also gift miles to friends and family, donate them to charity or reward customers or employees. Miles are also redeemable for magazine subscriptions.

Can you convert hotel points into Alaska miles?

Marriott Bonvoy™ points can be transferred to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan at 3 points per mile. Transfer IHG points to Mileage Plan at 10,000 points for 2,000 miles.

How to transfer Alaska miles to someone else

You can transfer 1,000 to 30,000 miles in increments of 1,000 miles at a cost of $10 per 1,000 miles, plus a $25 processing fee per transaction. A maximum of 100,000 miles can be transferred into or deducted from any individual Mileage Plan account per calendar year. Save the fee and use your miles to book a ticket for someone else from your account.

When do Alaska miles expire?

Mileage Plan miles will expire if there is no activity on your account for two years.

The bottom line

There’s a reason why the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan was named one of the top in the industry by J.D. Power & Associates. Despite not belonging to one of the three global airline alliances, Alaska Airlines has partnered with an impressive number of carriers that can get you almost anywhere you want to go using Mileage Plan miles.

The miles needed to get to where you want to go are pretty reasonable, even in premium cabins, and upgrades are a flat 15,000 each way. Award travel on Alaska Airline’s partners is easily bookable on its website. If you need to book flights on Cathay Pacific, Icelandair, or Korean Air, call Alaska Airline reservations for free to do it.

To get the biggest bang for your buck with the Mileage Plan, you must live in a city that has regular Alaska Airlines flights. If you don’t, membership in Alaska’s loyalty program can be helpful when it comes time to use the miles you earn on partner carriers including American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Emirates and Qantas.


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