Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs, thanks to the fact that they continue to award miles based on distance flown, have unique airline partners, have low award redemption rates, allow stopovers on one-way awards, and offer generous elite benefits.
While Alaska Airlines doesn’t belong to one of the major global alliances, they have valuable airline partners, including airlines that belong to the major alliances, and also some airlines that are independent.
However, there is one thing that really frustrates me about the program — they add new airline partners, but then they take forever to add award redemptions. Often it even takes a couple of years for them to add redemptions.
Alaska’s partnership with Aer Lingus
Alaska and Aer Lingus announced a partnership in March 2018, around the same time that Aer Lingus began flying between Dublin and Seattle.
Then as of May 2018, Alaska Mileage Plan added the ability to earn miles for travel on Aer Lingus.
Well, it has now been over a year since that happened, and up until now it hasn’t been possible to redeem Alaska miles on Aer Lingus.
That has finally changed, and there’s something very interesting about the redemption rates.
Aer Lingus A330
Redeem Alaska miles on Aer Lingus
Alaska Mileage Plan has just added award redemptions on Aer Lingus, and tickets are bookable directly on alaskaair.com.
You can redeem Alaska miles for travel between North America and Europe at the following rates:
- One-way economy tickets cost 30,000-80,000 miles one-way
- One-way business class tickets cost 60,000-280,000 miles one-way
For intra-Europe travel:
- One-way economy tickets cost 8,000-30,000 miles
- Redemptions in business class aren’t possible because up until now Aer Lingus hasn’t offered business class within Europe; that is changing soon, so hopefully Alaska also introduced business class redemptions within Europe
A few things to note:
- Alaska allows stopovers even on one-way awards, so any of these awards you could have a stopover in Dublin enroute to your final destination (this even applies to intra-Europe flights — you could fly from London to Dublin to Frankfurt with a stopover, for example
- There are no carrier imposed surcharges on these redemptions
- Alaska has access to one fewer business class award seat per flight than Aer Lingus otherwise has available; Aer Lingus uses the “U” fare class for business class awards, so the flight needs to have two “U” seats for Alaska to see one seat
Aer Lingus A330 business class
Okay, now on to the big picture question — what the heck is going on with 280,000 mile one-way business class redemptions?!?!?!
Well, Alaska is doing something interesting here, and I’m not sure what to make of it. If Aer Lingus has award availability on a flight, then the lowest cost shown above applies. That means you’ll pay 30,000 miles in economy or 60,000 miles in business class for a one-way transatlantic award, or you’ll pay 8,000 miles for a one-way economy award within Europe.
However, Alaska also seems to have near last seat availability on Aer Lingus, and you can redeem 280,000 miles for a one-way ticket on just about any flight.
This is a very interesting precedent, as it’s the first time Alaska has what can only be described as revenue based redemptions on a partner.
My take is that:
- Nothing is being taken away here, since saver awards are still pricing at a consistent level
- There simply are no circumstances under which redeeming 560,000 miles for a roundtrip Aer Lingus business class ticket represents a good deal
- So while seeing the 280,000 mile one-way pricing is jarring, I don’t take issue with it; I just ignore it
Aer Lingus business class catering
Earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles
If you’re looking to acquire Alaska Mileage Plan miles for redemptions on Aer Lingus, you have a couple of good options. First of all, Alaska often sells miles at a discount, which can be a great way to score a deal on premium travel.
On top of that, Alaska also has two great credit cards, which can earn you a lot of bonus miles:
Both offer welcome bonuses after completing a moderate minimum spend, along with Alaska’s famous Companion Fare, which lets you “buy one, get one for cheap” for economy flights on Alaska. This is one of the easiest companion tickets to use, and the main reason I keep the cards year after year.
I’m happy to see Alaska finally add award redemptions on Aer Lingus, which is long overdue. It’s disappointing how long it often takes Alaska to add partner redemptions, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s intentional, or what.
The entry level redemption rates are quite good — 60K miles one-way with a stopover and no carrier imposed surcharges for business class to Europe is excellent. My only real complaint is that they have access to one fewer award seat per flight than other programs, because Aer Lingus often only makes one business class award seat available.
Anyone plan on redeeming Alaska miles on Aer Lingus?