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Alaska Airlines has an amazing award program that offers great redemption rates, stopovers on one-way awards, and reasonable routing rules. The toughest part about using Alaska MileagePlan miles? Getting them. Here’s a cheat sheet to quickly let you know what you need to know about Alaska miles.
In this article
- Award charts: How much do Alaska awards cost?
- What airlines can you book and where can you find award space?
- How to book awards with Alaska miles
- Fuel surcharges and how to avoid them
- What are award change and booking fees?
- Options when you can’t find award space
- Best award values: where to get the most from your miles
- Stopovers… Even on a one-way award ticket
- Simple routing rules and great prices to South America on LATAM
- Great prices for Cathay Pacific in all classes
- Qantas between the U.S. and Australia
- Short haul flights on Alaska airlines starting at 5,000 miles each way
- Travel to Hawaii in Virgin America first class
- Emirates First Class to India
- How can you upgrade with miles?
- Can you book stopovers with Alaska miles?
- Routing rules: how to piece together awards across continents
- Can you put awards on hold?
- Alternative miles to book Alaska flights
- What credit cards earn Alaska miles?
- When do credit card miles post to your account?
- Can you convert hotel points into Alaska miles?
- How to transfer Alaska miles
- How to book awards for someone else
- When do Alaska miles expire?
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 partner.
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 departing the U.S.:
Continental U.S. to Africa
|Condor (North Africa)||35-50,000||55,000||65,000||N/A|
|Condor (South Africa)||40-55,000||60,000||70,000||N/A|
Continental U.S. to Asia
|American Airlines (China)||35,000||N/A||55,000||67,500|
|American Airlines (Japan, South Korea)||25-32,500||N/A||50,000||62,500|
|Japan Airlines (Asia)||35,000||N/A||60,000||70,000|
|Japan Airlines (Southeast Asia)||40,000||N/A||65,000||75,000|
|Korean Air (China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan)||70,000||N/A||105,000||N/A|
|Korean Air (Southeast Asia)||85,000||N/A||120,000||N/A|
Continental U.S. to Australia
Continental U.S. to Canada
|Cathay Pacific (YVR – JFK)||17,500||20,000||25,000||35,000|
Continental U.S. to Caribbean
Continental U.S. to Central America
Continental U.S. to Continental U.S.
Continental U.S. to Europe
Continental U.S. to Hawaii
Continental U.S. to India
Continental U.S. to Mexico
Continental U.S. to Middle East
Continental U.S. to New Zealand
Continental U.S. to South America
|American Airlines (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela)||15-17,500||N/A||30,000||40,000|
|American Airlines (Deep South America)||20-30,000||N/A||50,000||62,500|
Continental U.S. to South Pacific
What airlines can you book and where can you find award space?
Alaska Airlines isn’t part of an alliance, but it has many partners that you can book using MileagePlan 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 on BritishAirways.com|
|Latin America||LATAM (LAN operated only)||No, search on BritishAirways.com|
|North America||Ravn Alaska||Yes|
How to book awards with Alaska miles
Booking awards with Alaska Airlines MileagePlan miles is generally straightforward. The AlaskaAir.com award search engine shows most partners, but awards involving Cathay Pacific and LAN must be booked over the phone by calling 1-800-252-7522. All other partners can be booked online by following the steps outlined below.
1. Navigate 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.
3. The options that are available, excluding LAN and Cathay Pacific flights, will be displayed including all classes of service that are available with corresponding prices. Choose the itinerary you are interested in.
4. Confirm the flight you would like to book.
5. Login to your Alaska Airlines MileagePlan account and complete the booking.
Fuel surcharges and how to avoid them
Fuel surcharges only apply to a handful of Alaska’s partners: British Airways, Hainan, and Icelandair.
You can avoid fuel surcharges by booking on Alaska’s other partners where possible. However, not all routes on Hainan and Icelandair have terrible fuel charges. British Airways does have significant fuel surcharges, especially if you want to book in a premium cabin.
What are award change and booking fees?
|Partner award booking fee||$12.50|
|Same day confirmed changes||$25|
|Change/cancellation fee for changes made at least 60 days prior to ticketed flight departure.||Free|
|Change/cancellation fee for changes made less than 60 days prior to ticketed flight departure.||$125|
Options when you can’t find award space
Alaska has award redemption restrictions that are somewhat unique; you can only redeem flights on one partner and Alaska’s own flights at a time. For this reason, your options are somewhat limited if you can’t find award space because you’ll have to switch to looking for space on an entirely different partner that flies to the same region.
We recommend first looking for your longhaul flight because that is generally the toughest flight to find award availability on.
If necessary, you can book a paid flight to get yourself to that international gateway or use another type of miles. For example, if you’re flying from Salt Lake City to Kiev, you might search from San Francisco to Frankfurt, and book separate tickets from Salt Lake City to San Francisco and onward from Frankfurt to Kiev if there isn’t award space for the shorthaul flights.
Best award values: where to get the most from your miles
Alaska offers some incredible redemption options, here are just a few of them.
Stopovers… Even on a one-way award ticket
Alaska allows free stopovers even on one-way trips. Used creatively, this can deliver exceptional value.
For example, you can stop in Hong Kong en route to a destination in Asia from the U.S. for only 50,000 miles in economy, stop in Iceland en route to Europe from the U.S. for as low as 27,500 miles in economy, or stop in Lima en route to another destination in South America from the U.S. for as low as 25,000 miles in economy.
This is a super easy way to see an additional destination on your trip and break up those long flying days.
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 and 30,000 miles during peak times or 45,000 miles to fly in business class.
Read our full article about booking LATAM flights with miles to find out other great sweet spots for travel to Central and South America.
Great prices for Cathay Pacific in all classes
Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles for Cathay Pacific flights is an exceptional value across the board.
Unfortunately, the best place to look for Cathay Pacific award space is British Airways’ website because it is not shown on Alaska’s. To find out more about searching for award space, check out this article.
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 seen elsewhere.
Cathay Pacific can be used to book to various regions, and award pricing is dependent on the region. Flights from the Continental U.S. to Asia on Cathay 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 solid value—if you can find them. Award prices between the Continental U.S. and Australia on Qantas start at just 42,500 miles in Economy Class.
Short haul flights on Alaska airlines starting at 5,000 miles each way
Using Alaska miles on Alaska’s own flights can deliver amazing value. Flights start as low as 5,000 miles and this includes flights to and within Alaska (which can otherwise be very expensive).
The flight example shown above costs $167 in Economy, which means that you’re getting 3.23 cents per Alaska mile in value for a domestic Economy flight!
Travel to Hawaii in Virgin America first class
Travel to Hawaii in first class on Virgin America for 40,000 miles is a very nice sweet spot, especially when leaving from the East Coast, letting you ride in its extra large recliner seats across the country to San Francisco, and across the Pacific to Hawaii.
Emirates First Class to India
If you want to experience the bling 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 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.
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 and this can be good value for a long flight, but keep in mind that there are generally much better uses for Alaska miles.
If you would like to find out more about upgrading your Alaska Airlines flight with miles, read our full guide.
Can you book stopovers with Alaska miles?
One stopover is allowed 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 1, 2, or more days in their hub city, Hong Kong.
Likewise, if you are flying partner Air France from the U.S. to Italy, you will fly through their Paris hub and could tack on a couple more days do your trip with a free stop in Paris.
Since you are allowed a stopover in each direction, you can get extra creative by utilizing different partners.
Let’s take that trip to Italy as an example again. Instead of flying Air France on the way home, you fly partner KLM.
Now you can make a couple day stop in KLM’s Amsterdam hub in addition to your stops in Paris and Italy for no additional cost.
Routing rules: how to piece together awards across continents
Alaska’s routing rules can be both incredibly generous and incredibly frustrating. You can combine Alaska Airlines flights with a single partner—but only if there is saver level availability on Alaska Airlines.
Also, at the moment, until early 2018, Virgin America is considered a partner.
So, for example, you can fly Alaska Airlines from Anchorage to Chicago in order to catch a British Airways flight to London, but only if it is available at the 12,500 mile level.
However, you can’t fly a Virgin America flight from San Francisco to New York in order to catch a Finnair flight to Helsinki.
Additionally, the Alaska award chart is not truly global and excludes regions in many circumstances. It’s focused on travel between North America and other locations. From Europe, you can only fly to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific—that’s it. You also can’t route between Easter Island and Tahiti on LAN.
Basically, only award regions that are specifically listed on Alaska Airlines’ website are available, and they only apply to the specific partner they are listed for.
Can you put awards on hold?
Alaska doesn’t allow holding awards. You must have the miles in your account to book.
Alternative miles to book Alaska flights
You can use miles in any of Alaska Airlines’ partner programs to book flight on Alaska Airlines. However, the most common two partners to consider booking with are American Airlines AAdvantage® miles and British Airways Avios.
One great option that is very overlooked is using Asia Miles to book your Alaska Airlines flights. Asia Miles is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou® Rewards spand American Express Membership Rewards® and is exceptionally generous with the number of stopovers allowed.
What credit cards earn Alaska miles?
You don’t have many options if you want to earn Alaska Airlines miles via credit card spending. Bank of America® offers one personal and one business card that earns Alaska miles.
If you are interested in more flexible points, you can choose to earn Starpoints® via their personal or business credit cards issued by American Express.
Starpoints® points transfer to Alaska Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. Additionally, if you transfer in increments of 20,000 SPG® points, you will receive a 5,000 mile bonus making the effective transfer ratio 1:1.25.
Diners Club points also transfer to Alaska Airlines at a 1:1 ratio, but Diners Club credit cards are much more difficult to get ahold of.
When do credit card miles post to your account?
Alaska Airlines miles earned via the Alaska Airlines credit card will post to your Alaska Airlines account a few days after your statement closes.
If you transfer SPG® points to Alaska Airlines, you’ll have to wait between two and seven days for the miles to hit your account.
Can you convert hotel points into Alaska miles?
As mentioned previously, SPG® points can be transferred to Alaska Airlines MileagePlan at a 1:1 ratio.
It is also possible to convert Marriott points to Alaska Airlines miles via Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages. You’ll need at least 200,000 Marriott points, but that will get you 50,000 Alaska miles and a 7 night stay at a Category 1-5 Marriott property.
How to transfer Alaska miles
You can transfer 1,000 to 30,000 miles in increments of 1,000 miles at a cost of $10.00 per 1,000 miles, plus a $25.00 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.
Instead of transferring miles, it is often better to simply book a ticket for someone else from your account to avoid the transferring fees and limits.
How to book awards for someone else
In order to book an award for someone else, you simply need to go through the award booking process like you are booking an award for yourself. However, instead of entering your own information, enter the information of the traveler you are booking a ticket for.
Tip: Note that Alaska Airlines has been known to suspect mileage sales when the account holder is not flying on a mileage redemption ticket, which is against the terms and conditions of the program.
This is more the case for premium bookings like Japan Airlines First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, and Emirates First Class, though any booking could be suspected. MileagePlan members have had their accounts closed (whether or not they were actually selling miles, we don’t know). For this reason, we wouldn’t recommending booking tickets for other people with Alaska Airlines miles when the primary account holder is not traveling, especially premium cabin tickets.
When do Alaska miles expire?
Alaska Airlines miles do not expire as long as the MileagePlan account has not been terminated.