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

Feb 18, 2022

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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

2017 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia
(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 LingusLATAM and Qatar Airways awards.

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

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.

Booking a flight from KUL to BKK
(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.

Booking a flight from KUL to BKK
(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.

Booking a flight from KUL to BKK
(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 photo by Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

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