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Why Malaysia Airlines awards are a bad use of your Alaska miles

Feb. 18, 2022
4 min read
Malaysia Airlines Unveils New Aircraft Livery
Why Malaysia Airlines awards are a bad use of your Alaska miles
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When Alaska joined Oneworld in 2021, it came with the promise that Mileage Plan members would be able to earn and redeem their hard-earned miles throughout the alliance. This process, admittedly, hasn't been a fast one.

We've seen more Oneworld partners being added to Alaska's list of redemption partners over the last few weeks, and now there's another one — Malaysia Airlines.

The Kuala Lumpur-based airline used to fly to four destinations in the U.S. However, those routes have been eliminated so its route network is now focused in Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

Unfortunately, similar to other recent Alaska partner additions, such as Royal Air Maroc and Royal Jordanian, Malaysia Airlines awards are not priced at a bargain.

Here’s what you need to know about redeeming Alaska miles on Malaysia Airlines flights.

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Redeeming Alaska miles for Malaysia Airlines flights

(Photo by Marina LystsevaTASS/Getty Images)

Every partner airline has its own set award redemption rates on Alaska’s website. As alluded to, the award chart for Malaysia Airlines isn’t particularly impressive. In fact, it might be the most underwhelming partner in Mileage Plan yet. Here’s a look at one-way award pricing:

  • Asia to Asia: Starting at 25,000 miles in economy and 65,000 miles in business class.
  • Asia to South Pacific: 40,000 miles in economy and 120,000 miles in business class.
  • Asia to the Middle East: 40,000 miles in economy and 120,000 miles in business class.
  • Asia to Europe: 50,000 miles in economy and 175,000 miles in business class.

It's important to point out that the intra-Asia rates are just the starting points. This gives Alaska full control to increase award rates without notice. This is similar to what it's doing with some American Airlines, Aer Lingus, LATAM and Qatar Airways awards.

Related: Alaska gears up to dynamically price awards for American Airlines flights

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The Alaska Mileage Plan program prohibits mixing partner itineraries, so you cannot book a flight on Malaysia Airlines that connects with another Oneworld partner unless it’s with Alaska Airlines.

You can, however, add a stopover in Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, on long-haul itineraries between regions.

Although the taxes and fees on these awards are low and a free stopover is nice, overall, these rates aren’t a good deal. Just to give you an idea, TPG values 25,000 Alaska miles at $450.

(Screenshot courtesy of alaskaair.com)

I checked availability on the two-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Bangkok (BKK) and was surprised to see how atrocious these mileage rates are.

This same itinerary with American's AAdvantage is 7,500 miles less in economy class and 42,500 miles less in business class.

(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

Out of curiosity, I also checked a Star Alliance redemption on Thai Airways using United MileagePlus miles for the same route.

(Screenshot courtesy of united.com)

In this case, taxes and fees are lower, and economy class is 16,200 miles less than when booking with Alaska. Similarly, business class is priced 37,500 miles less than Alaska. If you opt for business class, this flight would also feature Thai's Royal Silk lie-flat business class.

Related: Why you should take your family on a vacation to Malaysia

Bottom line

Although we always appreciate more opportunities to redeem miles, the award rates on Malaysia Airlines through Mileage Plan are almost comical.

Alaska has been devaluing its award chart left and right. The new Malaysia Airlines redemptions are merely another way for Alaska to charge more miles from its members. Regardless, it's getting harder for Mileage Plan members to get outsize value from miles.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    670-850
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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
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  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

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  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.