How to redeem miles with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program
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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are some of the most sought-after in the points and miles game — but not because of redemptions on its own flights.
The airline is the newest Oneworld member and keeps non-alliance partnerships with a handful of other airlines. This means that Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles have a huge amount of flexibility and can be used on prestigious airlines like Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Korean Airlines and more.
Today I’ll show you how to redeem your Alaska Airlines miles. I’ll take a look at how to book Alaska Airlines and partner award flights and then dive into a few of the best redemption options.
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Alaska Airlines award chart overview
Alaska Airlines has separate award charts for its own flights and each partner flight. Thankfully, most of these are very reasonable, which is a large part of why we value Alaska miles so highly.
Let’s start with the Alaska Airlines award chart. The airline sticks to a semi-standard award chart that provides ranges for flights of certain lengths. You’ll have to run a search on Alaska’s website to find the exact price for your specific award ticket.
You’ll notice that there’s a section for “Money & Miles” award tickets. These let you take a discount off a cash fare for a set number of miles, but these are rarely a good deal.
Partner award charts, on the other hand, are unique to each airline and region pair. You can find a specific award chart by heading to this page on the Alaska website and inputting your desired region pair.
You’ll then see each airline’s award chart at the center of the screen. Pricing may differ within each region pair depending on the airline you decide to book with. For example, a flight from the U.S. to Asia on American costs as little as 60,000 miles in business class. On the other hand, the same ticket costs 50,000 miles on Hainan Airlines.
This can be confusing, but the great pricing on partner flights makes the award chart worth learning. I recommend bookmarking this page on the Alaska website and referring to it whenever you need to book an Alaska partner award flight.
Redeem on Alaska Flights
Alaska Airlines has a huge flight network on the West Coast, with hubs in Anchorage (ANC), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Portland (PDX), and Seattle (SEA). Travelers based in those cities can fly just about anywhere in the United States and some cities in Central America and Canada.
As discussed, Alaska Airlines doesn’t have a fixed mileage award chart. Instead, the carrier breaks its award levels into four distance-based bands. Each type of trip then has a published range of how many miles you need for the flight.
Unfortunately, these ranges allow Alaska to adjust award flight prices within each one, and we’ve found that most Alaska-operated flights require more than the 5,000-mile minimum, so you’ll have to be flexible if you want to get the most value from your Mileage Plan miles.
You can view how many miles you’ll need for a specific flight by running a search on the Alaska website.
Because of this, I don’t recommend using Alaska miles to book Alaska flights. This generally presents a poor value when compared to international flight redemptions. Plus, you can usually get a better deal on Alaska flights when booking with partner programs, like British Airways Avios.
Further, Alaska and its partner American Airlines operate a handful of the same routes. American offers a better deal on longer routes. For example, you’ll save 2,500 miles by booking Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) to Seattle (SEA) on American on specific dates.
That said, you can sometimes get good value when using Alaska miles to book flights under 700 miles. These can be booked for as few as 5,000 miles in economy class, so it’s a good option if cash fares are expensive. Some of these routes include Seattle (SEA) to Portland (PDX) and San Francisco (SFO) to Boise (BOI).
You also can use your Alaska miles to upgrade paid tickets to first class, but I don’t recommend it. You’ll need 15,000 miles each way to do so, regardless of the length of your flight. This is more expensive than a one-way economy class redemption on some routes.
Redeem on Partner Flights
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has an incredible set of international airline partners. The airline recently joined the Oneworld alliance, so it includes all member airlines. That said, you can only redeem with specific Oneworld partners right now — the rest will be added over the summer, including:
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Alaska Airlines also has partnerships with a handful of non-alliance airlines, including some of our favorites like Emirates and Singapore Airlines. These airlines include:
- Aer Lingus
- El Al Israel
- Hainan Airlines
- Korean Air (SkyTeam)
- LATAM Airlines
- Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance)
There are some quirks you should be aware of when redeeming Mileage Plan miles for partner flights. We discussed the first one in the last section — each Alaska partner has its own award chart. Remember, you’ll want to use Alaska’s helpful online award chart tool to price out awards on different airlines.
You can’t redeem Alaska miles on every single flight operated by its partner airlines. If the carrier you want to book isn’t listed when you input your origin and destination into Alaska’s award chart, it’s not eligible for awards using Alaska miles.
For example, Singapore Airlines offers nonstop flights from Singapore (SIN) to various cities in Australia, but when you search for award prices from Asia to Australia, only Cathay Pacific appears. This means that you can’t book those Emirates flights using Alaska miles. However, if you search from the US to Australia, Emirates does show up, so as long as you include an initial flight from the US to Dubai, you’ll be able to redeem Alaska miles for those flights.
Further, you can’t combine more than one partner on a single award itinerary. If you want to fly from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Hong Kong (HKG), you can’t fly American to Los Angeles and then connect to a Cathay Pacific flight. However, you can include an Alaska-operated flight to connect to an international partner. That same itinerary would be fine if your Chicago to Los Angeles leg is an Alaska flight.
There’s only one thing to look out for when booking an Alaska partner award ticket: mixed cabin awards. Oftentimes, Alaska will show business and first-class availability despite only having first or business class availability on short domestic legs. If you book a multi-segment award ticket and at least one of the segments is in first or business class, the entire itinerary will price at the higher-cabin mileage rate and appear in the premium cabin column of the search results.
Thankfully, mixed cabin awards are denoted by a small recliner logo to the right of the mileage cost. Keep an eye out for these when booking your next partner award ticket.
Redeem for Hotels
In addition to flights, you can redeem your Alaska Airlines miles for hotel rooms and magazine subscriptions. However, I don’t recommend these redemptions as they usually yield a poor value.
For example, we priced out a one-night stay at the Swissotel Chicago using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles. A one-night stay in September costs roughly 26,800 Mileage Plan miles for the most basic room. However, a one-night paid stay costs just $210.26 for the same night, giving you a value of just 0.78 cents per mile.
This is significantly lower than TPG’s latest valuations that peg Alaska miles at 1.8 cents each. I always recommend using your miles for their maximum value, and in the case of Mileage Plan miles, this is almost always found on flights.
Best uses of Alaska miles
So, it’s finally time to redeem your Alaska miles — here’s a look at a few of the best redemptions.
Add a free stopover to your booking
One of Mileage Plan’s best perks is that you can add a free stopover to one-way international award tickets. Generally, this stopover must be in the partner airline’s hub city. For example, you can add a stopover in Hong Kong (HKG) if you’re flying Cathay Pacific from New York-JFK to Bangkok (BKK) via Hong Kong.
Emirates business class
While Emirates first class is no longer bookable with Alaska miles, you can book the airline’s posh business class product. You can use this to fly to Emirates’ hub in Dubai (DXB) or connect to cities in Australia, Asia or Europe. Plus, you can use your free stopover to maximize this redemption with a free stopover in Dubai on your way to one of these regions.
For example, you can book Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Hong Kong (HKG) via Dubai (DXB) for 105,000 Alaska miles. This includes a week-long stopover in Dubai. While not the cheapest redemption, it’s a good way to see two amazing cities and enjoy Emirates business class for over 20 hours.
Japan Airlines first and business class
Japan Airlines flies from many major U.S. airports to its hubs at Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and Tokyo-Haneda (HND). This is a convenient way to either fly to Japan or connect to other major cities in Asia. You’ll pay more miles if you’re headed to Southeast Asia instead of East Asia, but the prices are reasonable regardless. Here’s a look at the award chart:
Cathay Pacific first and business class
Cathay Pacific has one of the best first-class products out there and a pretty solid business class. You can book these from the U.S. to Asia for a very reasonable 70,000 and 50,000 miles, respectively. This is an excellent way to book Cathay Pacific premium cabin flights — especially if you maximize the redemption with a free stopover.
Where to search award space
You can find award space on Alaska Airlines and most partners on Alaska’s website. The only exceptions are Cathay Pacific and LATAM. I recommend finding Cathay Pacific award space with your favorite Oneworld search engine and LATAM award space with Delta.com. Once you find space, you have to call Alaska Airlines to book.
Remember, not all Oneworld partners are currently bookable with Alaska miles — the full suite will be bookable this summer.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan FAQ
Now that you know the basics of redeeming Alaska miles, here are answers to some of the most common Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan questions.
How to join Alaska Mileage Plan
Head to the Alaska Airlines website and click the “sign up” button at the page’s upper right-hand corner. You’ll then be redirected to the signup page. Fill out the requested info, and you will be signed in to your new Alaska Airlines account. You can view your Mileage Plan number on the account page.
When do miles expire
Alaska miles expire after two years of inactivity. You can extend your mileage validity by earning or redeeming miles.
Can I transfer points to Alaska Airlines?
You can only transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska. These transfers process at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus being awarded for every 60,000 points transferred. This means 60,000 Marriott points are worth 25,000 Alaska miles.
You can make incredibly valuable redemptions with your Mileage Plan Miles. Even better, nearly all of the carrier’s travel partners show up in its online booking system, so it’s easy to book award flights on the airlines you want to fly when you want to fly them. When you combine this flexibility with low taxes and fees, the Mileage Plan program is a terrific one for your next international trip.
Feature photo by VDB Photos/Shutterstock
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