Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are among my favorite mileage currencies out there. On a per-mile basis, I value Alaska miles more than any other airline miles. In this post, I wanted to talk a bit more about actually redeeming Alaska miles — the rules you need to be aware of, and the best uses of Alaska miles.
How To Earn Alaska Airlines Miles
While Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t partner with any of the major transferrable points currencies, there are some other useful ways to earn their miles:
Earn Mileage Plan Miles With Alaska Credit Cards
Both the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card (review) and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card (review) are excellent options for earning Alaska miles. These cards offer valuable long term perks for Alaska frequent flyers, like a first checked bag free, discounted access to Alaska Lounges, savings on inflight purchases, and more.
Earn Alaska Miles With Other Credit Cards
While Alaska doesn’t partner with Amex, Capital One, Chase, or Citi, they do partner with Marriott Bonvoy, so you can transfer over Marriott points. The ratio for that is that 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points convert into 25,000 Alaska miles (if you convert in different increments it’s a 3:1 ratio).
This can be a solid deal, and there are lots of credit cards that can earn you Marriott Bonvoy points. However, if trying to earn Alaska miles through credit card spend, the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card are better options.
Buy Alaska Miles
Alaska Mileage Plan is pretty aggressive about selling miles, and they seem to offer promotions on purchased miles every couple of months.
It doesn’t cost anything to join the Alaska rewards program, so I generally recommend signing up ahead of time — you have to be a registered member in order to take advantage of certain mileage purchase promotions.
Earn Alaska Miles By Flying
Not only are there great ways to earn Alaska miles either through credit cards or by buying them outright, but Alaska is also a good program to credit flights to.
For one, Alaska Mileage Plan is the last major US frequent flyer program to award miles based on distance flown rather than dollars spent.
Alaska also has excellent mileage earning rates on a variety of airline partners, ranging from Condor to Emirates to Cathay Pacific. So there are lots of flights you can credit to Alaska to earn miles with them.
How To Use Alaska Airlines Miles
There are quite a few things to understand about redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan miles, and most of these are good things, though there are other things that make Mileage Plan unique, both for better and for worse. so let’s look at everything you need to know:
Redeem Miles On Alaska Airlines Partners
You can redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles on the following partners:
Note that while Alaska has a partnership with EL AL, it’s not yet possible to redeem miles on them. This should hopefully change soon.
With the exception of Cathay Pacific and LATAM award tickets, all other Mileage Plan partners can be booked online at alaskaair.com.
If you have a complicated itinerary or an itinerary involving travel on Cathay Pacific or LATAM, you’ll want to call Alaska’s Mileage Plan partner award desk, which can be reached at 800-252-7522 daily between 5AM and 12AM PT.
Alaska’s Separate Award Charts For Each Partner
Unlike some other programs, Mileage Plan doesn’t have a single global award chart. Rather each airline partner has their own award chart, and you can only redeem in select regions.
If Alaska doesn’t publish an award chart for a partner in a specific region, then you can’t redeem miles for it. This is a limitation of the program.
Because Alaska publishes separate award charts for every partner, you can’t mix partner airlines on an award ticket.
You can always fly Alaska Airlines to the gateway city on the same award ticket to start an award reservation, but you can’t mix multiple partners on a single award ticket. There are no exceptions to this.
Alaska Mileage Plan’s 72 Hour Advance Booking Policy For Asia
Alaska has a policy whereby they won’t let you redeem Mileage Plan miles for travel within Asia when booking within 72 hours of departure. Apparently this rule exists due to fraudulent redemptions, so it is something to be aware of.
Alaska Airlines’ Award Inventory Discrepancies
On the surface Alaska Mileage Plan should have access to the same award availability as other partner airlines do, though in some cases Mileage Plan inexplicably doesn’t have access to the same space. Most commonly:
- Mileage Plan often has access to one less first and/or business class award seat on Cathay Pacific than other programs do
- Qantas awards sometimes don’t show up, though there’s not much rhyme or reason to that
- Not all Emirates flights show up
- Mileage Plan often has access to one less business class award seat on Aer Lingus than other programs do
Alaska Mileage Plan Stopover Rules
One of my favorite things about the Alaska Mileage Plan program is that you are allowed a stopover on a one-way award ticket. This is possible regardless of which partner you redeem with.
So if you book a roundtrip as two one-ways, this means you can potentially get two stopovers on a roundtrip ticket.
To book a ticket online with a stopover, just use the multi-city function, and you can search each portion of the ticket individually.
Fees And Policies When Redeeming Alaska Miles
There are quite a few policies to be aware of when it comes to redeeming Mileage Plan miles. Most of these are fairly customer-friendly compared to Alaska’s competitors, though they do vary. Let’s take a look at Alaska’s ticketing fees, change and cancelation fees, and award ticket hold policies.
Alaska Mileage Plan Award Ticketing Fees
There are a couple of fees associated with redeeming Alaska miles:
- There’s a $12.50 partner award booking fee, which is charged each way per passenger, and applies for all new partner award bookings (this isn’t waived for elite members)
- If you book by phone, there’s a $15 service fee, which is waived for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members
It’s worth noting that Alaska doesn’t have a close-in ticketing fee, unlike some other major US airline programs.
Alaska Mileage Plan Change & Cancelation Fees
Alaska Mileage Plan charges $125 per person to change or cancel any award tickets, regardless of the airline or type of award. That fee is waived for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members.
All passengers can cancel their tickets within 24 hours of booking, assuming they’re booking for travel more than 24 hours before departure.
Alaska Mileage Plan Award Fuel Surcharges
Alaska Mileage Plan passes on carrier-imposed surcharges for travel on some partner airlines, but not all. The only partner airlines that have carrier-imposed surcharges are British Airways, Hainan Airlines, and Icelandair.
Alaska Mileage Plan Award Ticket Holds
Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t allow award holds anymore. So to book you need to have sufficient miles in your account, though you can cancel for free within 24 hours.
Best Ways To Use Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles
Alaska Mileage Plan is one of those programs with a few partners that really “make” the program. So let’s look at some of the best ways to redeem Alaska Airlines miles, in no particular order:
1. Use Alaska Miles On Cathay Pacific
One of my favorite uses of Mileage Plan miles is for redemptions in Cathay Pacific first and business class. Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Cathay Pacific:
Between US and Asia
Between US and Africa, India, South Asia, Middle East
Between US and Australia, New Zealand
For example, you could redeem just 60,000 miles for travel in Cathay Pacific business class from the US to Australia. This means you could fly from New York to Hong Kong, have a stopover for several days, and then continue to Australia on the same ticket. That’s a spectacular deal.
On the surface redeeming for Cathay Pacific first class is an even better value, though they typically make at most one award seat available in advance, and then it’s only within a couple of weeks of departure when they open more seats, so this isn’t ideal for everyone.
Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class
2. Use Alaska Miles On Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines is probably my single favorite Mileage Plan partner for redeeming miles. Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Japan Airlines:
US to Japan
US to Southeast Asia
For example, being able to redeem 65,000 miles for a business class ticket from the US to Southeast Asia is an exceptional deal. You can fly from the US to Tokyo, have a stopover for several days, and then continue to Bangkok, Singapore, etc.
Alternatively, you can book the same award ticket in first class for just 10,000 more miles, which is an excellent deal, if you can find availability.
Redeem Alaska miles for Japan Airlines’ 777 first class
3. Use Alaska Miles On Emirates
Alaska and Emirates have had a partnership since 2013, though unfortunately a few years back they devalued first class redemptions, and then in March of 2021, Emirates stopped allowed partner access to First Class award bookings. So at this point business class redemptions are the sweet spot, in my opinion.
Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Emirates:
North America to Middle East, India, and South Asia
North America to Asia
North America to Europe
North America to Africa
North America to Australia, New Zealand
While not my single favorite use of Alaska miles, being able to redeem 82,500 Alaska miles for a one-way business class ticket from the US to Middle East/India with a stopover in Dubai is a very good deal.
Redeem Alaska miles for Emirates’ A380 business class
4. Use Alaska Miles On Fiji Airways
Fiji is absolutely gorgeous, and conveniently is right on the way if traveling from the US to Australia or New Zealand. So flying Fiji Airways, whether with the intention of visiting Fiji, or enroute to another destination, is a great option.
At the end of this year Fiji Airways will even take delivery of an A350 featuring an all new fully flat business class product.
Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Fiji Airways:
US to South Pacific
The way I view it, the best deal is to redeem 55,000 miles to fly one-way from the US to Australia or New Zealand. You can fly from Los Angeles to Nadi, have a stopover there, and then continue several days later to Australia or New Zealand. While their business class product isn’t that great, this is the best way to visit Fiji on miles.
Redeem Alaska miles for Fiji Airways’ new A350 business class
5. Use Alaska Miles On Hainan
Hainan Airlines operates quite a few routes between mainland China and the US, and they’re generally quite good about making award seats available. They’re also the best mainland Chinese airline, in my experience.
Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Hainan:
US to Asia
Redeeming just 50,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket between the US and Asia via China is a great deal, especially as you can do a stopover in China. There are some carrier-imposed surcharges on Hainan, but they’re fairly mild.
Redeem Alaska miles for Hainan’s 787 business class
6. Use Alaska Miles On Qantas
Qantas is one of the stingiest airlines when it comes to making award seats available. However, when they do make seats available, redeeming through Mileage Plan is an unbeatable deal.
Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Qantas:
US to Australia & New Zealand
They charge 55,000 miles for a one-way business class or 70,000 miles for a one-way first class ticket from the US to Australia or New Zealand. For example, you could fly from Dallas to Sydney, have a stopover, and then continue from Sydney to Auckland.
Redeem Alaska miles for Qantas’ 787 business class
7. Use Alaska Miles On LATAM
LATAM is stingy when it comes to making award seats available, though when they do, there’s no better program than Alaska Mileage Plan.
Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on LATAM:
US to South America
25,000/30,000 Miles (Off-Peak/Peak)
Being able to redeem just 45,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket to South America with a stopover is a spectacular value. For example, you could fly from Los Angele to Lima, have a stopover and visit Machu Picchu, and then continue several days later from Lima to Santiago.
Redeem Alaska miles for LATAM’s 787 business class
8. Use Alaska Miles On Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus is one of Alaska’s newest partners, and this is one of the best options for getting to Europe without carrier-imposed surcharges.
Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Aer Lingus:
US to Europe
30,000 – 80,000 Miles
60,000 – 280,000 Miles
8,000 – 30,000 Miles
Ignore the upper-end of the pricing. If there’s saver level award space on Aer Lingus then you should generally be charged the lower pricing. 60,000 miles for one-way business class from the US to Europe with a stopover in Dublin is pretty awesome, if you ask me.
Redeem Alaska miles for Aer Lingus’ A330 business class
9. Use Alaska Miles On Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines is Alaska’s newest redemption partner. At first I wasn’t too excited about this addition, given that historically Singapore Airlines blocks long haul premium cabin award space to partner programs. Rather impressively that’s not the case with Alaska, and you actually have access to some Singapore Airlines first and business class awards.
Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Singapore Airlines:
US to North Asia
US to Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia to Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia to North Asia
I wouldn’t say the redemption rates between the US and Southeast Asia are that spectacular, though there are still some great opportunities.
For example, you could fly from the US to Singapore to Japan (with a stopover in Singapore) for 80,000 miles one-way in business class. Perhaps the best value is a first or business class award within Southeast Asia for 25,000-35,000 miles. You could have a stopover in Singapore, and could fly quite a distance (like from Beijing to Singapore to Hong Kong, for example).
Redeem Alaska miles for Singapore Airlines’ A350 business class
Redeeming Alaska Miles Summary
On a per-mile basis, I value Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles more than any other airline currency thanks to their unique airline partners and the ability to do stopovers on one-way award tickets, which is something that very few programs allow nowadays.
Despite some of the frustrating rules associated with redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan miles, there’s a ton of value to be had as well if you use your Alaska rewards on the right partners.