How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

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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?

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, discounted access to Alaska Lounges, 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 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 spend, 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
  • 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 partnerships with both Air Tahiti Nui and EL AL, but redemptions on those airlines aren’t yet possible. They 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 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 cancel for free within 24 hours.

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 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 doesn’t make many business class award seats available, so it’ll take some effort to find available seats.

Redeem Alaska miles for travel on Fiji Airways

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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 (24)
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  1. @Jeff Guest

    Does anyone have a trick to search for flights with ONLY biz or first seats on MilagePlan? It's a lot of hunting, pecking, and sorting to find redemptions that don't have economy or economy plus seats as part of the itinery.

    1. Jason Guest

      I WISH. This is my major complaint with Alaska MP. It is incredibly frustrating and the airline knows it. :(

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ @Jeff -- Wish there were a way to do that, but sadly so many airline award search functions have this issue.

  2. Max Johnson Guest

    An interesting piece, and I generally agree. However, I only find Aer Lingus J redemption seats for a shopping 280K miles each way on the Atlantic

    Where do I get the 60K seats!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Max Johnson -- The 280K pricing is in situations where Aer Lingus doesn't have saver award availability. Sadly Aer Lingus is fairly stingy with award availability, so the seats can be tough to come by.

  3. Joe Guest

    Regarding the cancellation and change fees, I thought Alaska doesn't imposed any.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Joe -- You're correct, thanks. Updated the post to reflect that. Sorry about that.

  4. Captain Ron Member

    Started accumulating Alaska miles a few years ago. I have found using them for international business/first class travel almost impossible. Asia and Australia are closed. The only carrier to Europe with availability is BA, with horrendous surcharges. And the Alaska web site lists mixed tickets as business class, even when only the short connecting flight to get out of the country is in the front of the plane. I'm going to Iceland this Summer- absolutely...

    Started accumulating Alaska miles a few years ago. I have found using them for international business/first class travel almost impossible. Asia and Australia are closed. The only carrier to Europe with availability is BA, with horrendous surcharges. And the Alaska web site lists mixed tickets as business class, even when only the short connecting flight to get out of the country is in the front of the plane. I'm going to Iceland this Summer- absolutely no availability in business through Alaska (Icelandair is a partner). I'm done collecting their miles.

    1. glenn t Diamond

      @Captain Ron~
      Australia has been open since last November. There have been decreasing Covid requirements, to the point where there are none today. Do keep up!
      Regarding your unsucessful search efforts, you need to try harder. Gems are there; you just need to learn where/how to look.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Captain Ron -- I agree Alaska miles have been of limited use the past couple of years, though that's changing. Australia, Thailand, and Singapore are all open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine, and New Zealand is opening soon as well. The usefulness of Alaska miles is increasing significantly again, in my opinion.

    3. Steve Guest

      I agree Captain. Have been very frustrated trying to find award txs to Europe from anywhere in US even before Covid. BA is a no go for us due to the ridiculous surcharges. When I find the rare award seat they are almost always a Mixed Cabin. Have been with AS for years and have 600k miles but am seriously thinking of moving away from the AS plan to a redeemable points card like Chase or Capital One.
      Thoughts anyone?

  5. Bill n DC Guest

    Well actually my May CX trip is toast. Alt is SQ Biz nonstop JFK SIN then Biz to FRA for LH B747-8i seat 1K. July CX is still ticketed, but alt is Polaris to get to NRT for QR Qsuite to DOH and beyond :-)

  6. Michael Guest

    Ben, have you like, *ever* seen an Aer Lingus seat on Alaska for the "normal" price? I've never seen for like less than a billion miles...

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Michael -- At the moment Aer Lingus is definitely stingy with releasing award availability. However, I absolutely have seen availability. For example, there's a fair amount of space next year from Boston to Dublin (02/03 BOS-DUB EI132, if you'd like an example).

  7. Bill n DC Guest

    Using for CX and JAL in 1st but alas the miles sit. My July CX trip is toast.

    1. Pepperman Guest

      @Bill in DC
      I didn't realize there were airlines that serve toast which of those airlines do that?? I love toast I thought there was an issue with serving it on a place because a pilot smelled it and thought he was having a stroke.

  8. Brandon Guest

    What do you think alaska is going to charge for redemption on Air Tahiti Nui? Will it be the same as American airlines?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Brandon -- Unfortunately most of Mileage Plan's recent new partner rates haven't been great. I suspect Mileage Plan will charge at least as much as AAdvantage for Air Tahiti Nui travel.

  9. Old Bill Guest

    I've never seen an Aer Lingus business class award from the US to London for less than 280,000 miles one way.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Old Bill -- Finding saver space can be tough, but it's not impossible, especially from East Coast gateways.

  10. Fred Guest

    What is the point of putting Cathay redemptions at #1.

    1. Andrew Guest

      agreed, at least put a qualifier that you can’t book then currently and it could be years if they even ever come back. JAL is the best legitimate use currently.

    2. CMorgan Guest

      Absolutely correct. JAL is the best current way to use miles. Just booked my wife a RT tics in First 75 k SFO-MNL and then MNL -LAX on the return. I booked Sea -MNL via Singapore for 100k Singapore Air. J class. Hoping to upgrade.

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Fred -- Hong Kong allows transit passengers again, so you can fly Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong to other points in Asia, even if Hong Kong isn't yet open to travelers without quarantine.

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

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Steve Guest

I agree Captain. Have been very frustrated trying to find award txs to Europe from anywhere in US even before Covid. BA is a no go for us due to the ridiculous surcharges. When I find the rare award seat they are almost always a Mixed Cabin. Have been with AS for years and have 600k miles but am seriously thinking of moving away from the AS plan to a redeemable points card like Chase or Capital One. Thoughts anyone?

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Max Johnson -- The 280K pricing is in situations where Aer Lingus doesn't have saver award availability. Sadly Aer Lingus is fairly stingy with award availability, so the seats can be tough to come by.

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ @Jeff -- Wish there were a way to do that, but sadly so many airline award search functions have this issue.

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