Sweet Spot Sunday: Use Alaska miles to fly from the US to Australia with a stopover in Fiji
If Australia and Fiji are on your travel wish list, this could be the perfect sweet spot award for you.
A nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Sydney takes around 15 hours, but a stopover in Fiji can break up your transpacific journey and let you visit Australia and Fiji on the same trip.
In today's sweet spot post, I'll tell you how to book a one-way award from the U.S. to Australia with a stopover in Fiji using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles.
Related: 8 common misconceptions about visiting Australia
Why it's special
In the last days of 2022, the Alaska Mileage Plan published a new partner award chart. Now, Alaska Mileage Plan's international partner award chart only lists starting rates for awards originating in the U.S. or Canada. In the time since the new partner award chart published, Alaska has devalued Japan Airlines awards without notice. So, you might want to book the remaining Alaska Mileage Plan sweet spots while you still can.
Alaska's new award chart states that one-way awards from the U.S. to the South Pacific start at 30,000 miles in economy, 45,000 miles in premium economy, 55,000 miles in business and 70,000 miles in first. Behind the scenes, though, award prices are still mostly based on which partner operates the flights.
The sweet spot we're focusing on today is the ability to fly Fiji Airways one-way between the U.S. and Australia for 40,000 Alaska miles in economy or 55,000 miles in business. This is an appealing sweet spot because the Alaska Mileage Plan offers a free stopover on one-way awards. So, you can stop in Fiji, which I highly recommend for its culture, beautiful island landscape and the ability to break up your long transpacific journey.
Related: The best ways to use points and miles to fly from the US to Australia
Unfortunately, it's not all good news: Business-class award availability from the U.S. and Fiji is practically nonexistent. You'll find limited availability from Fiji to the U.S. and spotty availability between Fiji and Australia. Due to limited business-class award availability for this sweet spot, we'll focus on economy awards in this guide.
Related: Flight review: Fiji Airways economy class from Nadi to Los Angeles on the A350
How to book this award
The Alaska Mileage Plan charges a nonrefundable fee of $12.50 per person each way for awards that use a partner airline. You can cancel or change partner awards with no fees if your plans change.
Here are the steps you'll need to follow to search for and book this sweet spot.
Find award availability
Finding award availability that fits your dates and travel plans will likely be the most challenging part of booking this award, especially if you want to fly in business class. As I noted above, there's currently very little availability in business class, but if you're happy to fly economy, you'll likely find availability.
You can't use multiple Alaska Airlines partners on the same award. So, you'll need to use flights operated by Alaska Airlines and Fiji Airways for this sweet spot.
Even though you'll book your award through the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan website, I recommend using American Airlines' calendar search to find award availability.
Related: The best websites for searching Oneworld award availability
First, use American Airlines' calendar search to find availability on a Fiji Airways-operated flight between San Francisco or Los Angeles and Nadi, Fiji.
Then, use American Airlines' calendar search to find availability on a Fiji Airways-operated flight between Nadi and Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide, Australia.
If you want to originate somewhere besides Los Angeles or San Francisco, you can also search on the American Airlines website to find availability on a flight operated by Alaska Airlines.
You'll need to find award availability for your return flights as well, but now you have a good idea of how to do so.
Related: Your ultimate guide to searching award availability for the major airlines
Search on Alaska Airlines' website
Now that you know what dates, origin and destination to search, go to Alaska Airlines' website. Below where you'd typically enter your search information, click "All search options." You'll want to click here instead of searching for a one-way award due to your Fiji stopover.
Once you've made that adjustment, click "Multi-city," select "Use miles" and enter the information for your outbound flights. Theoretically, you could also enter your return flight information here. but for now, let's assume you want to book a one-way award. Click "Find flights."
On the next screen, you should see the flights you found using American Airlines' calendar search.
If there's a seat image next to the award cost, you're looking at a mixed cabin award. For example, here's a mixed cabin business-class award from Sydney to Los Angeles where the leg from Sydney to Nadi is in coach and the leg from Nadi to Los Angeles is in business.
You'd need to agree to continue with the mixed cabin award if you wanted to book that option.
Let's assume you decide to go forward with the 40,000-mile economy award we searched for above. You can add this award to your cart by clicking "Add to cart." Once the award is in your cart, you can check the flight details. Click "Next" once you're ready to move forward.
You'll need to sign in to your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account and then enter or confirm passenger names and contact information. You can select seats on any Alaska-operated flights in your booking before entering your payment information and purchasing your award.
Related: 6 things to know about the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program
How to earn miles for this award
One way to earn Alaska Airlines miles is to sign up for and use Alaska Airlines credit cards. If you're looking to add a new card to your wallet, here's a look at the current sign-up bonuses available on Alaska cards:
- Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card: Get a $100 statement credit, 50,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare from $122 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
- Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card: Get 50,000 bonus miles, a $100 statement credit and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare from $122 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to the Alaska Mileage Plan at a 3:1 ratio, but keep in mind that you must transfer at least 3,000 points. TPG values Marriott points at 0.84 cents each and Alaska miles at 1.8 cents each. So, with the 3:1 transfer ratio, you're giving up a value of about 0.6 cents per Alaska mile earned when you transfer Marriott points to Alaska.
Finally, there are many other ways to earn Alaska Airlines miles. For example, you can fly Alaska Airlines and its partners. Or, you can click through the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping portal before shopping online. You can also enroll in Mileage Plan Dining and eat at participating restaurants.
Related: When does it make sense to transfer Marriott points to airlines?
If you want to fly to Australia, redeeming Alaska miles to fly Fiji Airways is a great option. The taxes and fees are tolerable, you can stopover in Fiji and the award pricing is better than you'd get with most other programs.
I loved Fiji when my husband and I visited in 2019 to review the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton. Hotel Fiji - Sonaisali Island and the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa.
However, earning Alaska miles for this award can be challenging since Marriott Bonvoy is the only major transferrable currency you can transfer to Alaska. An added challenge is that business-class award availability can be difficult to find.