How to redeem miles with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Despite recent devaluations, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are some of the most sought-after in the points and miles game — but not because of redemptions on Alaska-operated flights.
As a Oneworld member, Alaska offers redemption opportunities throughout the alliance. Additionally, Alaska has partnerships with a handful of other airlines. This means that Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles have a huge amount of flexibility.
Today I’ll show you how to redeem your Alaska Airlines miles. I’ll 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 different award charts for its flights and each partner. Thankfully, most of these are very reasonable, which is a large part of why we value Alaska miles highly.
Let’s start with the Alaska Airlines award chart. A year ago, Alaska had a published award chart. Now, the charts only show starting award prices, meaning Alaska could devalue redemption rates without notice. You’ll have to run a search on Alaska’s website to find the exact price for your specific award ticket.
You’ll notice 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.
Related: Your complete guide to earning and redeeming with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Redeem on Alaska flights
Alaska Airlines has a huge flight network on the West Coast, with hubs in Anchorage, Alaska; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle. Travelers based in those cities can fly just about anywhere in the U.S. and to 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 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. 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. Doing so 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 7,500 miles by booking Los Angeles to Honolulu on American on specific dates. Still, you'd be best off booking this flight to Hawaii using British Airways Avios, which would set you back just 14,000 Avios. Additionally, you can transfer credit card points to British Airways from Chase Ultimate Rewards, Captial One Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards.
You can sometimes get good value when using Alaska miles to book flights under 700 miles. You can book these flights 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 San Francisco to Portland and Seattle.
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.
Related: You can get a ton of value by booking these domestic awards with Alaska miles
Redeem on partner flights
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has an incredible set of international airline partners. While it took some time, you can now earn and redeem Alaska miles across the Oneworld alliance.
Alaska Airlines also has partnerships with a handful of non-alliance airlines, including some of our favorites like Korean Airlines and Singapore Airlines. These airlines include:
- Aer Lingus.
- Air Tahiti Nui.
- El Al Israel Airlines.
- Hainan Airlines.
- Korean Air (SkyTeam).
- LATAM Airlines.
- Ravn Alaska.
- Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance).
Related: How to earn miles with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program
You should be aware of some quirks when redeeming Mileage Plan miles for partner flights. We discussed the first in the last section — each Alaska partner has a distinct 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 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, El Al offers nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv, but only British Airways and Iberia appear when you search for award prices from the West Coast to Israel. So, you can’t book those El Al flights using Alaska miles.
Further, you can’t combine more than one partner on a single award itinerary. If you want to fly from Chicago to Hong Kong, 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. Alaska will often 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, Alaska denotes mixed cabin awards 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.
Related: Maximizing redemptions with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
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 August costs roughly 56,400 Mileage Plan miles for the most basic room. However, a one-night paid stay costs just $450.63 for the same night, giving you a value of just 0.79 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.
Related: Should you use points or cash to book hotels?
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 if you’re flying Cathay Pacific from New York to Bangkok via Hong Kong.
Related: 8 tips for strategically booking your first stopover
Singapore Airlines business class
From gourmet dining to a spacious suite-style seat, there's a lot to love about the new business class on the Singapore Airlines A350. As you might expect, it's not easy to book. Outside of using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, you can redeem 65,000 Alaska miles for a one-way flight from Singapore to Sydney.
Related: 7 takeaways from my 1st Singapore Airlines business-class experience
Japan Airlines first and business class
Japan Airlines flies from many major U.S. airports to its hubs in Tokyo. This is a convenient way to 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. Here’s a look at the award chart:
One of the best sweet spots in Alaska's award chart for Japan Airlines is flying from Tokyo to Delhi for 25,000 miles one-way. That's nearly a 10-hour flight in a lie-flat seat.
Cathay Pacific first and business class
Cathay Pacific has one of the best first-class products and a pretty solid business class. You can book these from the U.S. to Asia for a 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.
Related: How to book free stopovers with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
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 in the page’s upper right-hand corner. You’ll then be redirected to the signup page. Fill out the requested information, 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 do not expire, but accounts that have been inactive for more than two years will be locked. You will have to contact Alaska to verify your identity and reactivate your account.
Can I transfer points to Alaska Airlines?
The only major transferrable currency you can transfer to Alaska is Marriott Bonvoy points. These transfers process at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus awarded for every 60,000 points transferred. This means 60,000 Marriott points could become 25,000 Alaska miles.
Related: When does it make sense to transfer Marriott points to airlines?
You can make incredibly valuable redemptions with your Alaska 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 may be a good fit for your next international trip.
Additional reporting by Kyle Olsen.
Feature photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.