How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

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Link: Apply now for the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is among my favorite mileage currencies out there. On a per-mile basis, I value Alaska miles more than any other airline miles (I consider them to be worth 1.7 cents each). In this post, I wanted to talk a bit more about Mileage Plan miles — how do you earn them, what are the rules around redeeming them, and what are the best uses of them?

For many people, this is especially worth thinking about at the moment, given that the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card is offering a best-ever welcome bonus of 70,000 Mileage Plan miles plus after spending $4,000 within the first 90 days. I recently got approved for this card, and I know many OMAAT readers did as well.

How to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles

While Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t partner with any of the major transferrable points currencies, there are some other useful ways to earn Mileage Plan miles.

Earn Alaska miles with Alaska credit cards

Both the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card (review) and Alaska Airlines Visa® 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, savings on inflight purchases, and more.

It could be worth picking up an Alaska Airlines credit card

Earn Alaska miles with other credit cards

While Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t partner with Amex, Capital One, Chase, or Citi, the program does partner with Marriott Bonvoy, so you can transfer over Marriott points. The ratio is that 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points convert into 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan 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, including the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card (review), Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card (review), Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (review), and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review). However, if trying to earn Alaska miles through credit card spending, a card like the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card is the best option.

Buy Alaska miles

Alaska Mileage Plan is pretty aggressive about selling miles, and the program seems to offer promotions on purchased miles every couple of months. When we see these offers, you can expect bonuses in the range of 40-60%.

It doesn’t cost anything to join the Alaska Mileage Plan rewards program, so I generally recommend signing up ahead of time — you have to be a member for at least 10 days in order to take advantage of one of these 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 Cathay Pacific. Alaska Mileage Plan lets you earn miles for travel on the following airline partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • EL AL
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Ravn Alaska
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines
Earn Alaska miles for travel on Condor

Basics of redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan miles

Alaska Mileage Plan has some great redemption opportunities, though there are also quite a few rules to be aware of. Let’s cover some of those basics.

Alaska miles redemption partners

Alaska Airlines belongs to the oneworld alliance, though the airline has a wide array of partners beyond oneworld. It’s possible to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on the following airlines:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

Alaska Mileage Plan has a partnership with EL AL, but redemptions on that airline aren’t yet possible, but should be coming soon. With the exception of Cathay Pacific and LATAM award tickets, all other Mileage Plan partner awards 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.

Alaska has separate award charts for each partner airline

Many airline loyalty programs have a single global award chart, and pricing is the same regardless of which airline you fly. In the case of Alaska Mileage Plan, there’s a separate award chart for each partner airline:

  • Award pricing is different for each partner airline
  • You can only redeem for travel in select regions, so there are some markets where you can’t redeem on partners
  • You can’t mix and match partners on an award ticket, but rather you can only travel with one partner; however, you can always fly Alaska Airlines to the gateway on the same award ticket to start an award reservation, assuming there’s saver award availability

With Alaska Airlines having joined oneworld, it’s expected that Mileage Plan will eventually introduce a multi-airline award chart, allowing you to book a single ticket that includes travel on multiple airlines. However, I suspect the value won’t be as good as some of Alaska’s better individual airline award charts.

Each Alaska partner airline has its own award chart

Alaska allows stopovers on one-way awards

One of my favorite things about the Alaska Mileage Plan program is that you are allowed a stopover on a one-way award ticket when traveling between regions. 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.

Get a free stopover when redeeming Alaska miles

Alaska 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
  • Mileage Plan often has access to one less business class award seat on Aer Lingus than other programs do

This won’t be consistent, but it is something to be aware of, and it sure can be frustrating. There’s generally not any way to get around this.

Alaska sometimes doesn’t have access to all Cathay Pacific first class awards

Alaska 72-hour advance booking policy for Asia

While this has limited implications for most members, Mileage Plan has a policy for travel within Asia. Specifically, you can’t redeem 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 award ticketing fees

There are a couple of fees associated with redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan 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, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K members

Alaska award ticket change & cancelation fees

Alaska Mileage Plan no longer has any change or cancelation fees for award tickets, which gives you lots of flexibility to speculatively lock in awards, or even change them if a better routing opens up.

Alaska award ticket fuel surcharges

Alaska Mileage Plan passes on carrier imposed surcharges (often referred to as fuel surcharges) for travel on some partner airlines. Specifically, these apply for travel on British Airways, Hainan Airlines, and Icelandair. Fortunately they don’t apply for travel on other partner airlines.

Expect to pay fuel surcharges when redeeming on British Airways

Alaska award ticket hold policy

Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t allow award tickets to be placed on hold. To book a Mileage Plan award ticket you need to have sufficient miles in your account, though you can always cancel it for free.

Best ways to use Alaska Mileage Plan miles

We all have different travel goals, so there’s never going to be a one size fits all answer as to what the best use of miles is. Personally my favorite way to redeem miles is for aspirational redemptions in first and business class, since that’s where you’ll get the most outsized value.

The thing about Mileage Plan is that a lot of the value of the program comes from a select number of great partner redemption opportunities. Some partners have very high redemption rates, while others have very lucrative rates.

In this post I wanted to share what I consider the best uses of Alaska miles to be, roughly ranked starting with the best. Let me of course acknowledge that with current travel restrictions, some of these redemptions are less valuable than in the past, especially when it comes to the ability to have a stopover.

1. Redeem Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific

One of my favorite uses of Mileage Plan miles is for redemptions in Cathay Pacific first and business class. Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on Cathay Pacific are as follows:

  • Between the United States and Asia costs 50,000 miles in business class, 70,000 miles in first class
  • Between the United States and Africa, India, South Asia, and the Middle East, costs 62,500 miles in business class, 70,000 miles in first class
  • Between the United States and Australia and New Zealand costs 60,000 miles in business class, 80,000 miles in first class

For example, you could redeem just 60,000 miles for travel in Cathay Pacific business class from the United States to Australia. This means you could fly from New York to Hong Kong, have a stopover for several days (well, if/when Hong Kong reopens without quarantine), 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 Cathay Pacific typically makes at most one award seat available in advance, and then it’s only within a couple of weeks of departure when more seats are opened, so this isn’t ideal for those planning in advance.

Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific business class

2. Redeem Alaska miles on Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines is an incredible airline, and Alaska Mileage Plan has great redemption rates for travel on the carrier. Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on Japan Airlines are as follows:

  • Between the United States and Japan costs 60,000 miles in business class, 70,000 miles in first class
  • Between the United States and Southeast Asia costs 65,000 miles in business class, 75,000 miles in first class

The huge value here comes in being able to have a stopover in Japan enroute to another destination in Asia. For example, you could fly from the United States to Tokyo, stop for several days, and then continue to Bangkok or Singapore. The challenge is that Japan continues to remain closed to most tourists for the time being.

Redeem Alaska miles for Japan Airlines first class

3. Redeem Alaska miles on Qantas

While Qantas isn’t great about making award seats available, you won’t find better redemption rates for travel on the airline than you’ll find through Alaska Mileage Plan. Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on Qantas are as follows:

  • Between the United States and the South Pacific costs 55,000 miles in business class, 70,000 miles in first class

If you can find award availability, this is an absolutely amazing deal. For example, you could redeem just 55,000 miles to fly from Dallas to Sydney, have a stopover, and then fly from Sydney to Perth.

Redeem Alaska miles for Qantas business class

4. Redeem Alaska miles on Air Tahiti Nui

Air Tahiti Nui is Alaska Mileage Plan’s newest airline partner, and redemption rates are really good for anyone looking to visit Tahiti or the South Pacific. Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on Air Tahiti Nui are as follows:

  • Between the United States and Tahiti costs 60,000 miles in business class
  • Between the United States and New Zealand costs 80,000 miles in business class

The redemption rates between the United States and Tahiti are the lowest you’ll find through any program for travel on Air Tahiti Nui. Furthermore, the New Zealand redemption rates are great when you consider that you can have a stopover in Tahiti enroute to New Zealand, giving you access to two destinations with one ticket.

While the Fiji Airways deal I cover below might seem like the better deal on the surface (destinations aside), the difference is that Air Tahiti Nui consistently releases a good amount of business class award space, while that’s less the case with Fiji Airways.

Redeem Alaska miles for Air Tahiti Nui business class

5. Redeem Alaska miles on Fiji Airways

Fiji is absolutely gorgeous, and conveniently is right on the way if traveling from the United States 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. Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on Fiji Airways are as follows:

  • Between the United States and South Pacific costs 55,000 miles in business class

Being able to redeem 55,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket from the United States to Australia with a stopover in Fiji is an incredible value. The major catch here is that Fiji Airways historically doesn’t make many business class award seats available, so it’ll take some effort to find available seats. Recently the airline released a ton of space all at once, so hopefully we see this again in the future.

Redeem Alaska miles for travel on Fiji Airways

6. Redeem Alaska miles on LATAM

While LATAM is no longer part of the oneworld alliance, Alaska Mileage Plan continues to have a partnership with the airline. Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on LATAM are as follows:

  • Between the United States and South America costs 45,000 miles in business class

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 for several days, and then continue from Lima to Santiago.

Redeem Alaska miles for LATAM business class

7. Redeem Alaska miles on Aer Lingus

The Aer Lingus partnership with Alaska Mileage Plan was introduced a couple of years ago, and this is one of the best ways to get between the United States and Europe without paying fuel surcharges. Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on Aer Lingus are as follows:

  • Between the United States and Europe costs 60,000 miles in business class

60,000 miles for a one-way award between the United States and Europe can be a great deal, especially when you consider that you can add a stopover in Dublin without paying extra miles.

Redeem Alaska miles for Aer Lingus business class

8. Redeem Alaska miles on Finnair

Finnair is another great option to redeem Alaska miles across the pond without paying fuel surcharges. Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on Finnair are as follows:

  • Between the United States and Europe costs 70,000 miles in business class

On the surface this isn’t that great, since you could redeem 57,500 American AAdvantage miles for one-way travel between the United States and Europe in business class, including on Finnair. However, the big advantage here could be the ability to have a stopover in Helsinki at no extra cost, and then continue to elsewhere.

Redeem Alaska miles for Finnair business class

9. Redeem Alaska miles on Singapore Airlines

Even though Alaska Airlines is part of oneworld and Singapore Airlines is part of Star Alliance, the two airlines still have a partnership. While Singapore Airlines has historically blocked premium cabin long haul award space for partner programs, interestingly Alaska Mileage Plan has access to quite a bit of that space.

Alaska Mileage Plan one-way redemption rates on Singapore Airlines are as follows:

  • Between the United States and North Asia costs 80,000 miles in business class, 110,000 miles in first class
  • Between the United States and Southeast Asia costs 100,000 miles in business class, 130,000 miles in first class
  • Within Southeast Asia costs 25,000 miles in business class, 35,000 miles in first class
  • Between Southeast Asia and North Asia costs 60,000 miles in business class, 75,000 miles in first class

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 United States 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 to 35,000 miles. You could have a stopover in Singapore, and could fly quite a distance.

Redeem Alaska miles for Singapore Airlines business class

Bottom line

On a per-mile basis, I value Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles more than any other airline currency thanks to the program’s 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. It’s just too bad that Hong Kong and Japan largely remain closed to tourists, since Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines are the carrier’s most useful partners.

What’s your favorite use of Alaska Mileage Plan miles?

Conversations (12)
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  1. Michelle Guest

    We have had Alaska mileage plan for years. When you try to book a ticket with miles, the options are ridiculously long travel times. Like 50-60 hours when they may have flights that take 10-12 hours even on all Alaska. We can't seem to use our miles.

  2. DavidB Guest

    I can never find business awards on Finnair or AerLingus for less than the absurd 280K miles!

    Those complaining about BA awards can’t blame AS since BA’s extra fees are outrageous and made worse by the UK government taxes of up to £150 in premium cabins.

  3. GiantOilMaggot Guest

    Flights within Alaska are a great deal. I flew ANC-Kodiak for 5,000 miles each way, compared to a cash fare of $150 each way.

  4. JR Guest

    I'm saving my worth-less Marriott points to transfer to Alaska when needed. I just hope Marriott doesn't do a no notice devaluation. The Alaska business is 70k no 5/24. not spectacular but one of the best ways to get miles and recycle yearly.

  5. PDXpat Guest

    As top tier (75K/100K) with Alaska for 11 years running, I'm not as sanguine about the Mileage Plan international awards. Why anyone would even think of redeeming miles for British Airways flights is beyond me. The fees paid for a simple economy class U.S. -- LHR itinerary are in the $700 range -- and on top of that to pay all those miles? Who are they kidding? Without BA, options to Europe are pretty limited....

    As top tier (75K/100K) with Alaska for 11 years running, I'm not as sanguine about the Mileage Plan international awards. Why anyone would even think of redeeming miles for British Airways flights is beyond me. The fees paid for a simple economy class U.S. -- LHR itinerary are in the $700 range -- and on top of that to pay all those miles? Who are they kidding? Without BA, options to Europe are pretty limited. Oceania -- particular SYD/MEL business class redemptions can be very good but are VERY limited. Unfortunately, Cathay Pacific is still pretty useless -- jury is out whether they'll ever recover their international network. And oh -- mileage rates to Latin America on AA are higher than they are through American. 60K miles RT to Mexico or Central America in Economy -- nothing to write home about.

  6. Ghostrider5408 Guest

    Good morning I read your latest on Alaska with interest yes you are correct in most part. As a long time (1mm) on Alaska one of the best complaints is the lack of premium seating availability which has been there for many years. Flying from the west coast to Europe is horrible. You mentioned Air Lingus coach pricing, business is 280K plus $285.00 that's breath taking. After all is said we long time flyers have...

    Good morning I read your latest on Alaska with interest yes you are correct in most part. As a long time (1mm) on Alaska one of the best complaints is the lack of premium seating availability which has been there for many years. Flying from the west coast to Europe is horrible. You mentioned Air Lingus coach pricing, business is 280K plus $285.00 that's breath taking. After all is said we long time flyers have not reaped much in the way of enhanced benefits with OW. BA continues to be our real best bet for premium class and up to the EU. I do agree with you flying to Asia, hands down great options.

    Having said all this programs are being devalued at a rapid pace. Airlines need to shed millions upon millions of FF miles sold to raise cash of course we lost.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ghostrider5408 -- Keep in mind that when you see the pricing of 280K one-way in business on Aer Lingus, that's for flights where there's not saver level award space. If there is saver award space, it would cost 60K miles. Admittedly that doesn't help much, given how little saver award space Aer Lingus has at the moment.

    2. Dave Guest

      There is Never saver award space available. I searched every single day for 9 months, and could not find a single Aer Lingus flight for less than 280k miles. It’s a joke.

  7. LEo Diamond

    I think the best use of Alaska for SQ would be SIN-FRA (via JFK) for 110K in J, with the stopover policy.

  8. Howard Guest

    Hey Lucky. I have the Alaska Airlines Visa (personal) card, and they targeted me with a promo that gives me 3x miles on ALL purchases through the end of 2022. The bulk of my spending is at restaurants and grocery stores, where I get 4x from my Amex Gold. Given that there are so few ways to earn Alaska miles, do you think it's worthwhile to take advantage of this limited-time promo and use the...

    Hey Lucky. I have the Alaska Airlines Visa (personal) card, and they targeted me with a promo that gives me 3x miles on ALL purchases through the end of 2022. The bulk of my spending is at restaurants and grocery stores, where I get 4x from my Amex Gold. Given that there are so few ways to earn Alaska miles, do you think it's worthwhile to take advantage of this limited-time promo and use the Alaska Visa for 3x miles at restaurants and grocery stores where I could otherwise earn 4x points with the Amex Gold?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Howard -- That's a real toughie. I feel like it's a "six in one hand, half a dozen in the other" situation. I guess it comes down to which Alaska redemptions you'd potentially be eyeing, and what your balances with Mileage Plan and Membership Rewards look like.

      Personally I value Alaska and Amex points roughly equally, so I'd probably still choose to earn 4x Amex points. However, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer here.

    2. Howard Guest

      Thanks! I came to pretty much the same conclusion but it's a close call so I appreciate your advice. I've been reading your blog since 2014 and you've been such an amazing resource. This site literally changed my life, and I'm forever grateful.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

PDXpat Guest

As top tier (75K/100K) with Alaska for 11 years running, I'm not as sanguine about the Mileage Plan international awards. Why anyone would even think of redeeming miles for British Airways flights is beyond me. The fees paid for a simple economy class U.S. -- LHR itinerary are in the $700 range -- and on top of that to pay all those miles? Who are they kidding? Without BA, options to Europe are pretty limited. Oceania -- particular SYD/MEL business class redemptions can be very good but are VERY limited. Unfortunately, Cathay Pacific is still pretty useless -- jury is out whether they'll ever recover their international network. And oh -- mileage rates to Latin America on AA are higher than they are through American. 60K miles RT to Mexico or Central America in Economy -- nothing to write home about.

1
Michelle Guest

We have had Alaska mileage plan for years. When you try to book a ticket with miles, the options are ridiculously long travel times. Like 50-60 hours when they may have flights that take 10-12 hours even on all Alaska. We can't seem to use our miles.

0
Dave Guest

There is Never saver award space available. I searched every single day for 9 months, and could not find a single Aer Lingus flight for less than 280k miles. It’s a joke.

0
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