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With $99 one-way fares to Iceland available on WOW Air, should you ever consider redeeming miles for a flight? Well, yes — absolutely. WOW’s fares may be cheap, but the airline only flies from Boston and Washington, D.C., there’s no business-class cabin and you’ll have to pay fees for everything from seat assignments to checked bags. If you want (slightly more) posh seats, bundled amenities and many more US departure options, you’ll need to fly Icelandair.
That’s why we were especially thrilled to hear that Icelandair would be partnering up with Alaska, making it possible to earn and redeem Alaska miles on Icelandair flights. Earnings began in October, but redemptions didn’t launch until a few days ago. As of this week, however, you can now redeem Alaska miles for travel to Iceland and beyond.
Alaska’s Icelandair Award Chart
Alaska’s Europe Awards page now includes the above chart for Icelandair — way down at the bottom (it’s arranged alphabetically). Awards from North America to Iceland start at 22,500 miles each way for economy and 50,000 for business, with select dates and flights pricing at higher redemption levels. Regardless of whether you need to redeem at the low, medium or high levels for coach, however, you’ll always pay just 5,000 more miles to add on a flight to Europe. Note that those levels appear to apply to specific flights rather than seasonal periods.
Alaska Mileage Plan is unique in that it allows stopovers on one-way awards. So, while you can’t book flights between Europe and Iceland on their own, you can book a flight from North America to Iceland, stop in Iceland for a few days (or longer) and connect on to one of the airline’s many destinations in Europe. You can also do the same on the return, if you’d like. And, because stopovers are permitted on one-way awards, you can book one direction using another currency — say, those American miles you now probably want to burn — and then use Alaska miles to ticket the other direction, with a free stopover in Iceland to boot.
Icelandair’s Route Map
As you can see in the route map above, Icelandair operates many nonstop flights from Reykjavik — US destinations include Anchorage, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Portland and Seattle. You can also use Alaska miles to book flights departing from the Icelandair’s Canadian outposts. Icelandair also serves many European destinations, scheduled to make it easy to connect to and from North America.
Fuel Surcharges for Icelandair Awards
If there’s one major downside to note (besides the confusing low, medium and high redemption levels), it’s that Alaska has decided to add fuel surcharges to Icelandair awards. As you can see above, the fees aren’t outrageous — you’re looking at $188 on this round-trip between Newark and Iceland — but when WOW Air charges not much more for a full round-trip ticket, redeeming Alaska miles becomes a tougher sell. Note that the screenshot above is for a business-class award, though economy fuel surcharges are identical. Alaska also adds a $12.50 booking fee for each direction of travel that applies even when you book online.
By comparison, coach fares to Iceland can be fairly low, with this New York to Reykjavik round-trip pricing at $621, including taxes and fees.
Earning Alaska Miles
While Alaska’s only transfer partner is Starwood Preferred Guest, it’s generally easy to earn miles using two other methods: via the Alaska Airlines Visa co-brand card from Bank of America ($75 annual fee), which currently awards 25,000 miles without a minimum-spend requirement, or through frequent buy miles promos. For example, right now you can purchase Alaska miles for as little as 1.97 cents each, though even with the bonus (30%, at that level), you’ll pay $1,035 for the 45,000 miles you’ll need to redeem for a low-level round-trip to Iceland — $1,300 or so once you factor in fees. You can also earn Alaska miles for paid flights on Icelandair, and many other partners, including AA and Delta.
While it’s always nice to have another redemption option, flights to Iceland are often fairly inexpensive, especially on WOW Air, and with a short flight time from the East Coast, business class may not be necessary. Alaska’s free stopover could make this a worthwhile redemption, however, especially when you’re planning to redeem another currency for the other leg between North America and Europe.
H/T: Miles To Go