Best Ways To Use Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles

Filed Under: Alaska, Alaska Mileage Plan

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 Credit 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 Credit 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.

When they do offer a bonus on purchased miles, you can expect for the bonus to be in the 35-50% range.

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.

Aer LingusEl AlIcelandairQantas
American AirlinesEmiratesJapan AirlinesRavn Alaska
British AirwaysFiji AirwaysKorean AirSingapore Airlines
Cathay PacificFinnairLATAM Airlines
CondorHainan AirlinesPenAir

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:

Aer LingusCondorHainan AirlinesLATAM Airlines
American AirlinesEmiratesIcelandairQantas
British AirwaysFiji AirwaysJapan AirlinesSingapore Airlines
Cathay PacificFinnairKorean Air

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

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.

See this post for everything you need to know about carrier-imposed surcharges.

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:

RegionsBusiness ClassFirst Class
US to Asia50,000 miles70,000 miles
US to Africa/India/Middle East62,500 miles70,000 miles
US to Australia60,000 miles80,000 miles

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:

RegionsBusiness ClassFirst Class
US to Japan60,000 miles70,000 miles
US to Southeast Asia65,000 miles75,000 miles

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. 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:

RegionsBusiness ClassFirst Class
North America to Middle East, India, and South Asia82,500 miles150,000 miles
North America to Asia105,000 miles180,000 miles
North America to Europe105,000 miles180,000 miles
North America to Africa120,000 miles200,000 miles
North America to South Pacific120,000 miles225,000 miles

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:

RegionsEconomy ClassBusiness Class
US to South Pacific40,000 miles55,000 miles

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:

RegionsEconomy ClassBusiness Class
US to Asia30,000 miles50,000 miles

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:

RegionsBusiness ClassFirst Class
US to Australia & New Zealand55,000 miles70,000 miles

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:

RegionsEconomy ClassBusiness Class
US to South America25,000/30,000 miles (off-peak/peak)45,000 miles

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:

RegionsEconomy ClassBusiness Class
US to Europe30,000-80,000 miles60,000-280,000 miles
Intra-Europe8,000-30,000 milesn/a

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:

RegionsBusiness ClassFirst Class
US to North Asia80,000 miles110,000 miles
US to Southeast Asia100,000 miles130,000 miles
Southeast Asia to Southeast Asia25,000 miles35,000 miles
Southeast Asia to North Asia60,000 miles75,000 miles

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.

If you don’t yet have the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card and/or Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card, this is a great way to jumpstart your Alaska mileage balance.

  1. Cathay availability has been absolutely abysmal as of late, and the little availability you can find via BA doesn’t seem to match up with Alaska agents. CX use to be my favorite use of AS miles, but with how poor availability has been, I wouldn’t even consider it a perk anymore.

  2. @John. No doubt that this is the result of the mistake fair a few months ago. Thousands bought business and first tickets to and from the U.S. and pretty much messed with the inventory for the rest of the year. I imagine 2020 it will clean up again.

  3. Rates and availability are pretty good on Korean Air, but only if you’re booking a round trip or open jaw itinerary, as they will charge the round trip rate on a one way booking.

  4. For over a month I’ve been checking every single day for first class availablity on Cathay from hkg to JFK.

    I am in hkg and ready to go as soon as they have cx F availability.
    Any tips?

  5. I am frustrated that for some reason I can not get myself, nor my wife approved for the Personal Credit Cards. GRRRR!!!!

  6. Is there a workaround the new rule of having a lap child pay a full award rate? I’ve called multiple times and everyone’s told me I can’t just add a lap child with the 10% due to “tax reasons”

  7. that’s a good point about KE bookings being round trip. When I saw the mileage for a trip I was searching as 1 way I was shocked. But that makes much more sense.

    This is also a really useful post, Ben. You’re full of great info today

  8. I was lucky to be able to book 3 business class tickets on Qantas to Adelaide/Perth. All for 155K miles.

    I was going to use it for Cathay, but there has been nothing in terms of availability for them!

  9. I second what others have said about Cathay premium cabin award availability. There is virtually none on transpacific legs, likely due in part to CX honoring those mistake fares to Vietnam a few months back.

  10. I booked Cathay Pacific biz yesterday for Sept, one way Seattle to Hong Kong, a 4 day layover, then on to Bali (DPS). Over a $4000 ticket for 60k miles plus about $85 in fees and taxes is a great deal.
    And the agent saw the same availability I found on BA.

  11. CX availability has been abysmal even BEFORE the mistake fare. So I wouldn’t be holding my breath for availability to come back in 2020.

  12. @ Rody — Unfortunately the lack of Cathay Pacific first class award space might have to do with the Cathay Pacific first class mistake fares we saw late last year, which on many dates completely sold out the first class cabin.

  13. I find CX availability to be fairly open in 2020 at least from the West Coast (LAX, SFO, SEA, YVR)

  14. @Jorge- The elimination of lap infant tickets is a huge devaluation for anyone with young children. I’m not going to blow 60k on a redemption for a one year old for a seat he won’t even use.

    Any DP’s out there about ticketing the lap infant directly through the partner airline once the reward booking has been made?

  15. Anyone with experience in this please let me know.
    I’m planning a trip to Brazil next year and would like to fly LATAM biz with the misses. To get a pair of seats do I check as early in advance or do they open more seats close to departure time?

  16. Finding Qantas availability is basically impossible, though has gotten slightly better recently. They’re also not releasing availability to Alaska at 330 days at the moment either.

    Was able to find plenty of Cathay in 2020, though no F. Snagged 2 J seats JFK-HKG-MEL… now to figure out how to be patient until then. I noticed weekend availability is really non-existent even into 2020, but if you’re willing to fly Mon, Tues or Wed there’s plenty of availability.

  17. I can very rarely (very very very rarely) find business class seats for the overseas portions of trips using Alaska miles. Routinely, the Alaska Air website offers me Alaska first class for the domestic portion of my flight, and economy for the partner portion. Makes those miles useless for me on partner travel. Am I doing something wrong?

  18. @grant – I booked economy awards on Japan Airlines and called directly to add a lap infant to the award. It took the agent a little bit to figure it out, but it was eventually done correctly.

  19. @ John — Yep, @ Stuart is right. It’s already getting better as we pass the ticket validity for those fares.

  20. @ Jorge — Yeah, so that whole thing is interesting to me, because Alaska has never been able to issue infant tickets for awards (at least not in the past 10 years AFAIK). We’ve always called the partner and had them issue them directly, then had them link the ticket numbers in their reservation system.

    I don’t believe this is a new policy, or just the effects of a memo going out to agents clarifying that yes, infants do need separate tickets on international partner awards, a bunch of confusion, and then the bulletin saying they “must” have their own award seat. It might take a few calls, but I think the partner should be able to do it for you in most cases.

  21. @ Grant — That’s how we’ve always done it, and while I haven’t needed to try lately, I would suspect it would still work.

  22. @ TimInSeattle — There isn’t going to be much to Europe beyond British Airways, honestly, and very little of that will be out of Seattle. I’d start by looking out of other hubs to get a sense of where space is, then use the multi-city tool.

  23. CX to Asia is 55k in business. I booked with Alaska agent 2 months ago for JFK to SIN. Agent was flabergasted that the business seats (3) were showing. She felt like she found the “magical bunny”.

    Returning AKL to LAX om Fiji with stopover. Mileage was same, but with stopover the taxes were about $160 if I remember correct as opposed to $55 per ticket. Still a good deal.

  24. Thanks Lucky. Great stuff as usual.

    What’s the best way to book and check LATAM availability? Which website? Thanks as always.

  25. @Lucky
    Apparently you can’t earn Alaska miles on all American flights:
    From the Alaska web site:
    You’ll earn miles on domestic American Airlines flights with an Alaska Airlines (AS) flight number, and on all American marketed and operated international flights.

  26. @David L
    CX to Asia is 50k for business class, as Lucky posted and as shown on alaska airlines website.

  27. When did Alaska split out India/South Asia for CX flights? I know I booked NYC-MLE with 50k in business last year. I suppose the pricing makes more sense though, given the extra distance.

  28. I have always loved Alaska Airlines, but recently spent four wasted hours trying to find anything appealing anywhere in the world with business class and no stupid stopovers that are way out of the way (e.g., Santiago, Miami, Dallas, Toronto). I have lots of miles and will use them and then ditch my card and this program. Your review seems unbelievable given my experience. I think the program has gone downhill and is now one of the worst out there.

  29. Just called in to book a flight on CX from HKG to LAX using AS miles, and the agent said that a supervisor from the support desk told her that the $15 phone booking fee will no longer be waived ($12.5 carrier fee would continue to apply as always) even though it is impossible to book CX award flights on

    The supervisor claims that this waiver of $15 should never have been allowed, because “you have the option to fly this route on other carriers like AA that you can book on”. I am shocked as I always thought, as this is widely covered in the blogosphere, that the $15 will be waived for not being able to book CX awards online.

    This comes after me calling in to book a CX award with the phone booking fee waived about a week ago, so this seems relatively new.

    Not that $15 is a dealbreaker, but has anyone else encountered something similar? Is AS changing their policy on waiving phone booking fees?

  30. We were able to find 2 JAL First Class tickets from USA to Asia, 2 CX Business Class tickets from Asia to Europe and 2 BA First Class tickets from Europe to US for our next trip later this year. Maybe it’s luck because we’ve struggled with BA and JAL First Class in the past and the times we’ve found JAL First, it was “ghost” availability and unbookable. We may cancel the BA tickets though and just buy a business class ticket depending on what deals come up from now until then though as it is a lot of points and they could be used on a better redemption.

  31. @Brandon do you book the whole ticket through JAL or book the adult ticket through alaska airline and then call up for the infant lap ticket

  32. @lucky modest correction to table where you list airlines for redeeming AS miles. Unfortunately AS miles currently can’t be redeemed for travel on Aer Lingus.

  33. This maybe of interest to tickets originating outside the USA/Canada region but one feature I love is the American stopover. Whenever I redeem 55K for the Australia to USA award, I always add on an USA domestic leg at no extra charge. For eg: ADL-MEL-LAX-SEA stopover SEA then SEA-JFK (at no extra charge).

  34. So from Asia to JFK could I make a stopover in both Hong Kong and Vancouver if all sectors are on Cathay (CX888 YVR-JFK)?

  35. @peter no you cannot stopover in Vancouver on CX888. Tried to book it, wouldn’t let me. It even seemed as tho the agent didn’t even see the stop at YVR on her screen. For the most part stopovers on AS rewards can only be taken in partner airline hubs (excluding US stopovers AFAIK), meaning no fifth freedom flight stopovers.

  36. I have flown JAL FC numerous times to Japan and beyond using Alaskan miles. Truly is an exceptional experience and makes the Alaskan plan still worth having. I do miss the much lower awards for Emirates as I once managed to snag RT FC JFK to SIN. Amazing experience..showering and all. Alaskan miles are still worth having especially for Asia and Australasia in full season which is just about impossible with say MileagePlus. Plus Alaskans customer service is amazing if you ever have to call them… still a great plan and great awards!

  37. Recent attempts to book US-Asia showing redemptions for 120K AS miles per KE business seat. Nothing available on Hainan, Japan, or any other airlines!!!

  38. I can never find business or first class availability from any US gateway to Japan by searching on the AS website. The award calendar sometimes will return mixed-cabin tickets where the international leg is in coach but usually it’s nothing available at all. Any suggestions for what I’m doing wrong?

  39. Yes, those “mixed cabin” seats, with the ‘long haul’ leg in Economy are horrid.

  40. @Jason, I could be wrong, but I think the trick is to do the search on the BA site, then book with AS.

  41. Re: lap child tickets, I can provide a data point that you can call the operating carrier and add a lap child. I was able to do so with EK in the last month.

  42. Tried to get JAL F with Alaska miles for two people. Had to call the Alaska number because could not complete on-line. The agent said only one seat was available even though two were shown.

    Lucky, how do you get TWO seats on your flights?

  43. Not sure what Erich is smoking. Worst program out there? I just booked 3 business tickets Sea to Cebu in March 2020 and 3 premium economy Cebu Seattle. No issues finding seats. Plenty of inventory. Just came back from Manila via Narita. Business and First class all the way to Anchorage. 5 segments for 75k. I am not complaining.

  44. Thanks for the post Ben,
    Cathay pacific availability from India has been a major issue, and this was before the F class fare sale as I had set Expertflyer availability alerts from BoM to virtually all points in North America from August 2018 to Feb 2019 and never managed to get a seat

    Also wrt to the EK awards their website doesn’t shows the same availability as EK saver awards on skywards or rather should I say Waywards program or Expertflyer, mostly shows the UsA duba sector in Coach and dubai India sector in J

  45. You can fly from Tokyo to Delhi, for no additonal cost at all (unfortunately that flight has no first class)
    New York-Tokyo in first, Tokyo-Delhi in business, 70k miles.

  46. @e30st
    Usa to India routes on Jal require an overnight layover and the Indian passport unfortunately requires a Japan visa In advance which is too much time and hassale for me,

    Also from del to usa only Ord and Jfk connect, the rest r above 8 hour connections

  47. I am holding several cx transpacific for 2020 in f. I bought two on the same call with Alaska agent 2 days ago and ba inventory matched what Alaska agent saw perfectly. you must plan way in advance. and then you have to compete with me who books several trips throughout the year as availability pops up 11 months in advance. as a 75k I have zero cancellation fees. I only take the trips I can get may calendar to work around. by booking when there is availability, I have the time to make my calendar accommodate some of my bookings. next month qantas f lax mel (I searched daily for weeks until those popped up). you have to work at it if you want the best seats for points/miles.

  48. Hi Lucky!

    I just missed the May bonus purchase opportunity.

    IIRC, you said this is the 3rd offer of the year. When do you anticipate another bonus opportunity?

    Thank you in advance!

  49. You really should include Condor in more detail. Sure its not the best Business class in the world, but 55KM one way is not bad at all. AS has limited Europe options and I would much rather fly direct to Frankfurt than stop in Iceland.

  50. @Ash yes, as long as it is one operating carrier + Alaska. For example you cannot mix Cathay and JAL on the same award ticket.

  51. Tried to book JAL First and it was phantom availability. Only had one seat.

    I see business class on JAL but not First for TWO people as another person has mentioned. Lucky, how do you find TWO seats?

  52. You forgot to mention the ditzy PARTNER BUSINESS or PARTNER FIRST CLASS award levels. Here’s how I would explain:
    “You might see a chair icon next to the 150k award on EK from Mumbai to Sea. That’s correct plan on forking 150k. But wait, there’s a catch. You will be in coach from BOM to DXB. And don’t expect any adjustment.

  53. Ben, Tiffany, Anybody! I would love for one of y’all to do some investigative research on a semi-recent, worrying trend I’ve noticed re: Cathay F availability.

    I’m currently booked in J, and my partner in F for a flight in August for our honeymoon. Tickets issued near the end of last year. My plan was to hope that availability opens up for F on the same flight so I can join him, or that 2 F seats open up somewhere else ex-US and we just book a last minute coach ticket to make the domestic connection.

    For a while, this plan seemed solid. Even when the Error Fare happened, flights to and from LAX were not really affected, and there was still plenty of space in F around our flight. Our flight currently sits at F5 (with the one seat being occupied by my partner).

    However, as of sometime this spring, Cathay seems to have pulled ALL F class award availability ex-US through the end of 2019. I have not been able to find a SINGLE F award seat anywhere on the calendar for 2019, regardless of how far out it is, how close in it is, how many seats are still left for sale, etc. Not. ONE. All of the availability has been pulled even on flights that are still F6 and previously had one redemption seat available, and as of that fateful day this spring, I haven’t been able to find any close in availability either.

    Again, this is for 2019 flights only. In 2020 trends return to normal (i.e. one first class seat per flight if the cabin is empty for the most part)

    Even more worryingly, I can’t find any availability on AsiaMiles either, not even at the “Choice” higher award level. Same issue, whether far out or close in, F seats just aren’t bookable with miles. For example, CX 881 on June 27th has all 6 seats for sale still, yet none of the seats are bookable with partners, nor with Asia Miles itself.

    This stretches way beyond the error fare taking up all available inventory. It’s a deliberate pulling of all first class inventory through the rest of the year. It almost feels like “retaliation” for all the people that booked the error fare. I can’t really make sense of the logic behind it, but I think it deserves looking in to and posting about if it continues.

  54. I’ve booked a number of long haul awards in premium seats with Alaska. They are at the mercy of award partners like AA that have next to no availability to Europe but do have good availability to Asia. Since they lost the sky team partners Europe isn’t easy with Alaska miles. They also rarely get access to Saga class seats on icelandair. Many routes end up in mixed cabins with economy on the long parts. Also many times you’ll go through the booking process on a JAL etc. only to have it error out. It will usually put it on hold but it will require a phone call to finalize it as these seem to require a human touch from a csr. It’s a good program but euro awards aren’t easy with Alaska. Think domestic west coast, Hawaii or Asia for awards with this program.

  55. Thanks for this info – I remember when Alaska cut Emirates value, but it faded when I experienced similar no availability cross Pacific in neither JAL nor Cathey First to get me to Seoul so I can take advantage of the 50,000 AA miles award for Etihad Apartment to Abu Dhabi. So I used 180,000 AS miles to get to Seoul via JFK and Dubai. I got all my AS miles from cc churn so fairly painless and with AUH-LHR in an Apartment, I’ll get 4 showers in a row! . On and since I’ve got to head up to JFK for my mid morning outbound EK flight, I’ll spend the night before at the TWA hotel!

  56. Some information about stopover and open jaws with Cathay via YVR

    I booked and have used a stopover for DPS-HKG-YVR stop YVR-SEA-LIH.

    I have booked a LIH-SEA-HKG-Shanghai

    I have booked a CKG-SZX-YVR open jaw YLW-SEA-PVR.

    Some agents will refund the fee. Some will recognize the stopover in YVR but not the OJ. Some will recognize the OJ (I think this was on-line with Hainan).

    I guess its a HUCA all the way as for years I had little success having the $15 ($20C) CX online booking fee refunded then the last few were willing to do so.


  57. Ben,
    I get that Alaska is slightly cheaper (charges less miles for same flight) and allows stopovers compared to American, but if I have a stash of AA miles do I really want to separately collect Alaska miles? Almost all of your best redemptions are on OneWorld carriers, so I don’t see the incremental benefit. Of course, this presumes you can actually find a seat in business/first!

  58. Got 2 seats in F on EK IAD-JNB next year for long awaited safari. It took some work and some patience and cost 400k miles but it will be worth it. I have noticed a lot of the searches returned mixed cabin awards and that was very frustrating but I finally found F for both legs IAD-DXB and DXB-JNB

  59. Just wanted to give a shout-out to AS agents. I booked my wife onto QF mixed cabin business AKL-BNE then Prem Econ BNE-LAX for 55k – not bad! – then discovered that I had foolishly mis-spelled her name (typo, of course!). The AS agent told me not to cancel the fare on the 24 hour rule b/c I would never be able to rebook it (indeed the availability had already disappeared) – she said they have a unit that would work with QF to change the name, but I would have to be on call to give them a CC # for the $15 fee, which I thought was fine. 3 days later they had made the change, with no call, for no cost! (listed the cost as $0). I call that excellent service!

  60. Just found Aer Lingus availability on Alaska mobile app on Sept. 4 from FCO to JFK for 60k coach. Same day available on BA for 60k business.

  61. I’d like to book SIN-HND and then KIX-BKK (open-jaw with a stopover of several months). If I have flown the SIN-HND sector, would I still be able to change the dates of the KIX-BKK sector? If I were to forfeit the KIX-BKK sector (also after having flown SIN-HND), would I have to pay a cancellation fee or no-show fee (I understand I will forego the miles)?

  62. For a number of years I was successful in snagging Qantas F flights between various ports in Australia to LAX/DFW/JFK. The key was being eternally vigilant and highly flexible as the occasional seat could randomly pop up (throw backs into the system mainly). It seems that it Qantas’ policy is to no longer give AS any QF F inventory at all. Even Business has now pretty much gone, with just ‘fake’ Business (short domestic leg in J followed by a transpac long-haul in Y).
    Shame on you Alaska for all that window-dressing; I guess you sucker in a few of the unwary who fail to know of the signifigance of the ‘mixed cabin’ symbol !
    Anyway, for me at least Mileage Plan has slipped from my #1 to #4.
    The love has gone; sorry.

  63. @TimInSeattle
    No, you aren’t doing anything wrong. Since about 2 years ago, Business and FC award space on AA dried up completely. No matter how flexible you are or how often you look, you will not find a single AA business class seat on an international flight. Yet, Alaska will still try to charge you the same for a short domestic leg in First and a 10 hour trip across the pond in Economy. It’s maddening not to be able to filter for the faux FC/Business awards.

    You may get “lucky” and find BA space, but you’ll be paying an arm and a leg in fees ($600-$900 each way). Condor will get you to Germany in a pretty subpar product although pretty easy to find availability. Finnair will get you to Scandinavia.

    Qantas business and F are equally VERY rare, but not impossible. Most Aer Lingus redemptions are a joke at 200K+ miles for one way. Emirates is plentiful because of the high-ish price tag, but depending on your destination is rarely a good time investment with Dubai as a hub. I could go on and on about how Alaska miles are not a sound “investment”.

    Now, if you want to go to Asia, that’s about the only worthwhile and fairly abundant award you’ll find.

    If only more people realized the difficulty in redeeming miles. It can take a LOT of work and still may not pan out before devaluation. Unfortunately all the headlines extol the wonders of miles on Alaska instead of painting an accurate picture.

  64. With all the hypes around Alaska award program, I went to take a peek just so I can see what kind of international nonstop premium seats between major cities are on offer. What I found was a list of bunch of mix cabinet award seats with multiple stops along the way….. I guess not that different from AA award search. What a disappointment. Thank you, next!

  65. I have a little pet peeve that has just arisen.

    Lets be honest – AS “FIRST” is at best premium economy on a second level airline. Better than Condor but definitely not even J.

    So when you used to book a reward flight on an AS partner in J or f your connecting flights were always in AS First. Not any longer. They don’t even book you into their enhanced economy class. They only book main cabin for your connecting flights even though you have paid for a J award.

    This appears to be a new wrinkle to maximize profit or minimize the cost of an award on another carrier. OR is this cause to hang up and call again? Like waiving the booking fee for CX which can only be booked via an agent?

    Lucky or Tiffany – what do you think about this?

    By the way – Condor J is definitely OK to europe from many NA ports but I think is better value to purchase and use the rewards for status as the points cost is about even if you purchase them for cash.

  66. For those of you who keep getting mixed cabin award issues – try searching for the longest leg of the flight and find when that leg has J or F. Then check to find the connecting flights that might be acceptable. Still a hassle but worth the effort.

    Ie – SEA to Tokyo on Japan Airlines Connecting flights within 24 hours are not stopovers.

  67. Helpful posting. However, you omitted earning miles through their shopping portal. Today I bought something through their portal and earned a 700 mile bonus.

  68. Lucky (or any other Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan expert),

    My dilemma. I used Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles to book Hong Kong to San Francisco coming up in October. Flying Business class and used miles. My wife recently got her USA Citizenship and legally changed her last name to mine. But the tickets were booked late last year under her old name.

    I called Cathay Pacific which is the airline we redeemed on. But they say Alaska Airlines need to make the change. I called Alaska but they say the only way to request it is to cancel the existing ticket and wait until Cathay gets back to them which they say can take 2-3 days.

    I know if they cancel it, it will immediately get redeemed from someone else. We had to book this far in advance to snag the tickets. They said there is no way to guarantee that the ticket won’t get redeemed from someone else. This can’t be right.

    Is there any way to get them to change the name on the ticket to her new last name? Because her old Passport from another country while she still has that passport doesn’t match her new USA passport and they took her Green card when they issued her US citizenship. This doesn’t seem like they wouldn’t be able to change it without cancelling the ticket?

    Please any advice is greatly appreciated.

  69. Mike Saint, Maybe you should try calling again. Perhaps you will get an agent who is more helpful, like the one who helped Ely.

  70. @Mike Saint~ Is there any reason your wife would not be able to use her current passport for this upcoming trip? It may be a liitle inconvenient but if it’s doable I would do it. I agree that if you cancelled the ticket, it would ‘go’ before you was in a position to have another issued. Fortunately your travel is still some way off so plenty of time to sort it. Do not cancel the ticket though!

  71. Anyone had any luck even seeing Hainan J class space to its non Chinese destinations in Asia?? I tried BKK and SIN for the whole of 2020 (till end of schedule) and find ZERO availability. Apparently, the problem is flights from its Chinese hubs to other Asian destinations as flights between China and China are readily available. So, practically this Hainan redemption option is valid for China only.

  72. Redeeming can take some searching, and be frustrating but doable. Got my family of 5 in business on AA from PDX-ZUR this summer, and last year (just prior to AS losing Air France) from PDX-CDG-FLR (free stopover in Paris). No mixed cabin. I am not seeing anything easier with other frequent flyer programs.

  73. I find availability PHX-CDG never worthwhile- anything they offer for “Business Class” at that mileage charge is actually Economy PHX-LHR and then Business LHR-CDG. Have discussed with them, the response is “that’s what we get”. I never see any reason why one would want to pay Business Class miles for what is really pure Economy. This is true for months of looking, even 6-8 months out.

  74. A month ago; I managed to find separately, flights TPE-NRT, NRT-SEA, and SEA-YVR to naturally connect all of them to form TPE-YVR for my wife and I. However, Alaska would not add on the the SEA-YVR portion as “it is on a separate fare bucket”…

    Today, there’s availability for only one person to do TPE-NRT-SEA-YVR but not for two. Anybody here has tried booking for one person, and discovering that there is still another available slot afterwards but just can’t be booked together?

  75. The $12.50 partner award booking fee is NOT refundable even if cancelling the flight within 24 hours. Strictly enforced. Tried getting it refunded via Live Chat and calling in. Seemed to contradict the DOT law, but the Alaska Air agent claimed otherwise.

  76. Typo in the new section on Singapore: says 1100,000 miles where it should say 110,000.

    I agree with some other posters … I’ve got lots of Alaska miles and just find it hard in practice to actually use them, which is not a problem I’ve had with United, American, or Flying Blue.

    In theory it’s a great program. In practice it’s difficult. Maybe it’s specific to me, since I have kids and don’t have as much flexibility as I used to.

  77. You didn’t highlight Alaska’s definition of PARTNER BUSINESS.

    The little airline that thinks it invented First Class.

    Is Lucky on their payroll?

  78. Are the Air Lingus mileage charts loading correctly via the Alaskan website? I am seeing one way from say IAD to VIE biz class is 280K miles?? And at other times its only 60K??

  79. @TiminSeattle
    You are not doing anything wrong. The ‘mixed seat’ ruse has been around for a while, and has reached plague proportions. It is to suck in noobs and the inattentive to spend a bucket of miles on a ‘premium’ flight that has 90+% in coach/economy. Also plumps up otherwise threadbare offerings by Alaska. Appalling, deceitful behaviour really.
    I challenge anyone to find one single Business or F seat from Australia on
    Qantas to the US from now to the end of the schedule.
    You have a better chance of seeing a pair of unicorns in your front yard.

  80. So… Singapore Airlines first class to North Asia costs a million miles? Typo, perhaps?

  81. would it make sense to use Alaska mileage for award flights starting from Europe? Seems low award availability when I look.

  82. Lucky, I appreciate this update and the paragraph on the difficulty redeeming Cathay Alaska Awards. I would recommend you make it even clearer that for more than one person a 50K award to Asia is very difficult to score. Also that the only way to really check Cathay Alaska award availability is to call Alaska direct and ask the agents(who are generally helpful). This is very time consuming and makes planning much more difficult. All the blog articles out there that talk about checking the BA site for award space are not accurate and shouldn’t be relied on.

  83. Found it very difficult to redeem my AS miles. CX J awards from New Zealand to HKG not very plentiful now except close in. However I spotted quite a lot of J award space in the first half of 2020 from Wellington to SIN on Singapore airlines for 65k AS miles. And they will have the A350 aircraft for that route via Melbourne. It’s a 13 hour flight.

  84. Erik is total right and Tim in Seattle – CMorgan what are YOU smoking – you sure you didn’t get hit for over 100k for those B class and only got it for the first half- that is what I am finding- gonna use mine and fine another program – plus without Delta and soon American – there’s nothing left

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