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The best way to use Alaska Airways Miles


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Alaska Airways miles are a few of the most precious, even should you’ll by no means truly fly the airline.

The West Coast-based service isn’t but a member of any airline alliance (although they intend to hitch Oneworld in 2021), however don’t let that idiot you. Via particular person partnerships, the Alaska Airways Mileage Plan loyalty program is extra helpful than most airways. Alaska miles could be a whole lot for home journey throughout the U.S. and even to Hawaii – however you’ll get probably the most bang to your rewards by flying on worldwide companions like Cathay Pacific or Japan Airways – and profiting from a free stopover en path to your closing vacation spot.

We'll present you how one can use Alaska Airways miles for almost free flights and journey all around the world.

When you know the way to make use of Alaska Airways miles, you will get neat redemptions like visiting Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific! (Photograph by FS11 / Shutterstock)

The best way to use Alaska Airways miles

Alaska Airways miles worth is abnormally excessive for a lot of causes, not the least of which is flexibility. To start out, you're allowed to ebook one-way awards (not all carriers permit this). This implies you’ll be able to fly from the U.S. to Asia on American Airways, and return on Cathay Pacific by reserving two completely different awards.

Remember that Alaska makes use of a special award chart for every of its associate airways. Which means even on the identical route (just like the U.S. to Hong Kong) costs can fluctuate by three-fold or extra relying on the airline.

Whereas you are able to do 99% of the reserving work your self straight on the Alaska Airways web site (even should you're reserving a stopover or a sophisticated multi-city itinerary), I've discovered Alaska Airways to have a few of the friendliest and most competent cellphone brokers in your complete trade. I redeemed 70,000 Alaska miles for a Cathay Pacific firstclass flight to Hong Kong, and your complete cellphone name begin to end, together with studying out my bank card information and dealing via the automated system to get to a dwell agent, took precisely 10 minutes. How’s that for effectivity?

If you happen to're quick on Alaska Airways miles, you’ll be able to earn them straight from these playing cards:

Try our publish on how one can earn Alaska Airways miles for extra choices to spice up your account stability.

Alaska Airways companions

The very best makes use of of your Alaska Airways miles come from redeeming on associate airways. Right here’s the complete checklist of companions:

The excellent news is you’ll be able to ebook most of Alaska’s associate airways on-line. If you wish to ebook flights on these airways, you need to use a special oneworld award search engine, just like the British Airways or Qantas web site, then name Alaska as soon as you discover the seat you need.

The place can Alaska Airways miles take you?

Whereas these companions cowl nearly each continent, you’ll discover there are strengths and weaknesses. You’ve gotten probably the most choices for flights to Asia between Cathay Pacific, Japan Airways, Korean Air and Singapore Airways, whereas Europe is far more restricted. Positive, you’ll be able to fly American Airways (if you will discover award house) or British Airways (should you're prepared to pay extreme gasoline surcharges) however your decisions aren’t pretty much as good.

That stated, it's potential to go to each inhabited continent with Alaska Airways miles. And the award costs are very affordable.

Every airline has a special award chart

Let's have a look at a couple of methods you would use Alaska Airways miles to journey to Bangkok, a well-liked metropolis amongst vacationers of all types. Alaska Airways doesn't fly from the U.S. to Thailand, however associate airways can get you there.

This instance demonstrates how a lot the value varies relying on which associate you fly. It's additionally vital to notice you’ll be able to't combine companions on a global award ticket, which means you’ll be able to't fly American Airways from Los Angeles to Hong Kong after which change to Cathay Pacific to get all the way down to Bangkok. You may, nonetheless, add a home flight on Alaska Airways to place to a global gateway airport firstly or finish of your journey.

Let's begin with Cathay Pacific, my favourite use of Alaska miles. One-way flights from the U.S. to Asia price:

  • Coach: 30,000 miles
  • Premium financial system: 35,000 miles
  • Enterprise: 50,000 miles
  • First: 70,000 miles

Cathay Pacific firstclass tickets are a few of the most costly on the earth, routinely clocking in at $ 20,000 or extra. If you happen to ebook one for less than 70,000 miles, which means your Alaska miles could be price a whopping 30 cents every!

With Cathay Pacific, Alaska Airways treats all of Asia as a single area so your awards price the identical should you cease in Hong Kong, or should you proceed on to different locations like Singapore or Bangkok.

In the meantime, Japan Air Traces (my second favourite Alaska Airways associate) has completely different award pricing for flights to “Asia” and “Southeast Asia.” These areas aren't outlined on the Alaska web site, however I've discovered Southeast Asia to incorporate China and every little thing south of it.

JAL provides an unbelievable premium cabin expertise, with a few of the greatest meals and drinks within the sky in firstclass and superb suites in enterprise class, however you’ll pay an additional 5,000 to 15,000 miles to fly JAL over Cathay Pacific, relying in your route and cabin.

For a similar U.S. to Asia route, different choices embody redeeming 180,000 miles for Emirates firstclass or 70,000 miles for Korean Air coach, in every case twice as costly (or extra) than Cathay Pacific.

Not solely do award charts fluctuate by airline, additionally they fluctuate by route – so that you’ll need to do your personal analysis earlier than reserving.

So, make sure that to learn the wonderful print. For instance, whereas Alaska Airways provides you an possibility for flying from Asia to the Center East utilizing your miles, it’s solely legitimate for journey to and from Hong Kong (not the remainder of the continent).

Flying with Alaska Airways

After all chances are you’ll wish to use your miles to remain nearer to house, and Alaska Airways makes that straightforward, too.

Flights operated by Alaska Airways throughout the continental U.S. or between the continental U.S. and Alaska are priced primarily based on distance: you’ll be able to both take a “hop, skip, leap or a leap.”

You'll additionally see a variety of pricing for every distance. Whereas Alaska Airways doesn't use dynamic award pricing the way in which United Airways or Delta does, it does have completely different pricing tiers so that you would possibly see variations, particularly should you're touring at a busy time.

The “hops” could be a nice worth at solely 5,000 miles every means in coach, for flights like San Francisco to Seattle. Alaska additionally operates a strong route community from the West coast to Hawaii, and flights begin at solely 15,000 miles every means in coach.

Charges and insurance policies

Award charges

My Cathay Pacific firstclass award got here with a complete of ~ $ 75 in taxes and charges, which I used to be pleased to pay for such an excellent redemption.

Along with the ~ $ 48 taxes and charges for this ticket, Alaska costs a $ 15 cellphone reserving charge, which is unavoidable since Cathay Pacific awards need to be booked over the cellphone. The Alaska web site additionally lists a $ 25 associate award reserving charge, although that seems to be primarily based on round-trip tickets since each one-way award I've booked has solely had a $ 12.50 associate award charge. If you must change or cancel your award greater than 24 hours after reserving, you’ll even be charged a $ 125 probability / cancellation charge.

Be aware that taxes and charges fluctuate primarily based on which airline you fly. However you’ll at all times pay the associate award reserving charge and cellphone reserving charge (if relevant) on each redemption.

One-way awards, open jaws and stopovers

Free stopovers are one of the precious issues about Alaska miles, and you’ll try our full assessment of Alaska Airways Mileage Plan for extra data on how one can redeem them. Listed below are the vital issues to recollect:

  • Stopovers are legitimate on one-way or round-trip tickets
  • You may solely cease over on the hub of your associate airline (i.e. Hong Kong for Cathay Pacific, Sydney for Qantas, and so on.)

The excellent news is you’ll be able to ebook these on-line your self, until you're flying Cathay Pacific or LATAM, wherein case you’ll must name in.

Reserving a stopover is so simple as trying to find a multi-city award ticket, although I like to recommend looking phase by phase at first to seek out the award house you want. Not solely do stopovers provide you with two locations for the value of 1, however they make it simpler to seek out award house since you will be extra versatile along with your dates.

As a result of Alaska enables you to ebook one-way awards, it's additionally straightforward to assemble an open-jaw. An open jaw is only a fancy means of claiming you aren't flying an ideal spherical journey. Possibly you fly from metropolis A to metropolis B, and return from metropolis B to metropolis C. Or perhaps you fly from A to B, then hop on a prepare or bus to a special metropolis C earlier than flying again to metropolis A.

A sensible instance of this is able to be somebody who lets the award house dictate their trip plans. If you wish to fly Cathay Pacific firstclass round-trip in your trip, you would possibly must fly out of Los Angeles and again into San Francisco relying on the provision. This could be an open-jaw, and simple to ebook as two one-way awards.

Redeem miles on Alaska Airways companions

The toughest a part of redeeming your miles and factors is discovering the award house you want, particularly if you wish to journey in firstclass or with a bigger group. Utilizing Alaska’s companions is in any other case fairly hassle-free – they will take you nearly anyplace.

Asia

Whereas Alaska has probably the most companions flying to Asia, you’ll at all times wish to begin by trying to find Cathay Pacific availability. Not solely is it the most cost effective possibility, however Cathay Pacific has the broadest U.S. route community so that you’ll have a better time discovering seats.

Cathay Pacific has a six-seat firstclass cabin, and can launch one seat on every flight a yr prematurely when the schedule opens. You would possibly get fortunate and see one other seat launched nearer to departure, but it surely's definitely not a assure which makes this tough for {couples} to ebook collectively.

After that I’d have a look at JAL (don’t neglect to seek for flights to each Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda airports). You’ll usually see one or two seats launched far prematurely, however the true gold mine comes within the week or two main as much as departure.

I've seen Japan Air Traces launch as many as 5 firstclass award seats on a single flight for last-minute vacationers! After all when you’ve got your coronary heart set on a selected route, you need to use ExpertFlyer to seek for award availability and set alerts if it opens up. ExpertFlyer doesn't help searches for JAL and Cathay Pacific, but it surely's an excellent device for many of Alaska's different companions.

You may also verify American Airways and get fortunate. I typically ignore Korean Air and Emirates due to the excessive costs.

Australia

Alaska companions with Qantas, and whereas it's powerful to seek out premium cabin award house on the continuous flights between the U.S. and Australia, coach house is extra available. You can too break up your journey by flying Cathay Pacific and having fun with a free stopover in Hong Kong. Don’t neglect to search for American Airways award house as properly… however don’t get your hopes up right here.

Europe

British Airways is your easiest possibility right here, and it is likely to be price sucking it up and paying the excessive taxes. You can too have a look at Condor should you're touring a route they serve, or Finnair.

South America

LATAM has an intensive route community each from the U.S. and inside South America. Bear in mind you’ll have to make use of both the British Airways or Qantas web site to seek for award house right here, then name Alaska to ebook.

Africa

Alaska will allow you to fly "the fallacious means world wide," and route via Hong Kong en path to Africa. Cathay Pacific is your greatest guess right here, and don’t neglect about that free stopover in Hong Kong. A first-class flight to South Africa through Hong Kong is nearly one of the simplest ways to get your cash’s price for a virtually endless luxurious flight.

Greatest methods to make use of Alaska Airways miles

Cathay Pacific

The Alaska Airways award chart for Cathay Pacific flights to Asia is cause sufficient to like this system. The place else are you able to ebook a 15-hour $ 20,000 firstclass flight for less than 70,000 miles? Even should you select to fly in enterprise class as an alternative, 50,000 miles for a one-way award is extremely affordable. You can too construct in a free stopover in Hong Kong earlier than persevering with on to another vacation spot in Asia on the similar worth, supplying you with two locations for the value of 1.

Cathay Pacific provides one of many world’s greatest firstclass merchandise, and also you’ll normally see one award seat launched on each flight a few yr prematurely when the schedule opens, after which sometimes extra seats within the days and weeks main as much as departure.

Cathay Pacific firstclass is without doubt one of the greatest methods to redeem your Alaska miles. (Photograph by wkst / Shutterstock)

You can too make the most of Alaska’s distinctive award chart for Cathay Pacific to discover many different locations. Fly from the U.S. and cease in Hong Kong, earlier than persevering with on to India, South Africa or Australia on the following charges:

These are a few of the farthest locations from the U.S., and also you’ll have a a lot simpler journey should you break up your flights with a cease in Hong Kong. As an added bonus, you'll have a better time discovering award house in case your two legs (U.S. to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to your vacation spot) will be spaced out by a couple of days.

Final however not least, Cathay Pacific additionally operates a route between New York (JFK) and Vancouver earlier than persevering with on to Hong Kong. Whereas that is one in all Cathay Pacific’s shortest routes to function a real firstclass cabin, you’ll be able to ebook this six-hour flight for less than 35,000 Alaska Airways miles and get a style of the great life with out flying all the way in which world wide.

Japan Airways

Whereas Cathay Pacific has barely lowers costs and a extra strong U.S. route community, Japan Airways provides an equally spectacular expertise in coach, enterprise class and firstclass. One factor to be aware of right here is the completely different costs for flights to “Asia” vs. "Southeast Asia." These areas aren't clearly outlined on the Alaska Airways web site, however I've discovered that they match up intently to the American Airways award chart, the place Japan and Korea are one area, and the remainder of Asia is barely costlier.

This implies you’ll be 60,000 to 65,000 miles for a one-way enterprise class award or 70,000 to 75,000 miles for a one-way firstclass award flight. Japan Airways is usually nice about releasing final minute award house, and it's commonplace to see three or extra firstclass award seats near departure! Don’t hand over hope if there’s nothing accessible off the bat.

After all, don’t neglect about your free stopover in Tokyo! These will be booked straight on-line by deciding on a multi-city award search. Right here’s a screenshot.

I discover it a lot simpler to seek out the award house you need first by performing two separate searches, after which click on multi-city whenever you're truly able to ebook.

Emirates

Emirates firstclass is the stuff that goals are fabricated from, and one thing each award traveler ought to endeavor to attempt at the least as soon as. Whereas award charges have skyrocketed in recent times, there are a couple of benefits to reserving a first-class Emirates flight via Alaska Airways. And let’s be sincere, should you’re going to splurge on any flight, you’re going to choose the one with the onboard bathe.

That is the spotless bathroom with a bathe aboard an Emirates A380 firstclass flight. (Photograph by Agent Wolf / Shutterstock)

A one-way firstclass award from the U.S. to the Center East will set you again a whopping 150,000 miles. If you happen to're heading past the Center East, you’ll be able to completely construct in a stopover in Dubai earlier than heading on to different locations within the space, such because the Maldives, India, and so on. Top notch Emirates flights to Asia will price 180,000 miles one- means.

Emirates additionally operates two flights from the U.S. to Europe, however these quick seven-hour hops are paradoxically extra costly than flying all the way in which to Dubai. It prices 180,000 miles to fly from New York JFK to Milan or from Newark to Athens in Emirates firstclass. If you happen to're shelling out this many miles, ensure you get at the least one true lengthy haul flight to get pleasure from all that Emirates has to supply.

Fiji Airways

Top-of-the-line makes use of of Alaska Airways miles is to fly to distant locations which might be just a little tougher to achieve. Fiji is about as distant because it will get, so think about using your Alaska Airways miles to fly Fiji Airways from Los Angeles to the South Pacific. For under 40,000 miles in coach or 55,000 miles in enterprise class, you’ll be able to take a nonstop flight to kick off your tropical trip in paradise.

Hainan

Hainan Airways usually will get missed as a result of, like Alaska Airways, it's not a member of a significant airline alliance. Nevertheless, the airline’s bought numerous contemporary 787 and A350 planes, which have glorious lie-flat seats.

One-way enterprise class awards from the U.S. to Asia solely price 50,000 Alaska Airways miles, and due to a few of the quirks of Chinese language aviation, you'll discover Hainan working some fairly area of interest routes. You’ve gotten one of many solely continuous flights from Boston to Asia (Beijing), in addition to Los Angeles to Chongqing.

Qantas

Australia is a troublesome spot to get to with factors and miles, however Alaska Airways is the reply. It provides you the superb possibility of reserving nonstop flights with Qantas. Qantas flies a mix of humongous planes like A380 and 787 plane to U.S. cities akin to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas from its hubs in Sydney and Melbourne. One-way awards price the next quantities, regardless of which route you fly:

  • Coach: 42,500 miles
  • Enterprise: 55,000 miles
  • First: 70,000 miles

Whereas coach house is comparatively straightforward to return by, first and enterprise class house is extremely uncommon. Actually, I’d say that Qantas firstclass might be the only hardest award seat to seek out, so have lifelike expectations.

LATAM

If you happen to plan on venturing into southern South America and don’t wish to pay the costlier American Airways award costs, LATAM is a good possibility to think about. Flights from the U.S. to South America price the identical quantity regardless of which nation you're touring to:

  • coach (off peak): 25,000 miles
  • coach (peak): 30,000 miles
  • Enterprise: 45,000 miles

Off-peak award flights run from March 15 to June 30, all of August, October, and November. A lot of LATAM’s U.S. flights are operated by a contemporary 787 aircraft (that's a superb factor).

American Airways

At this level within the checklist, you've in all probability seen one factor conspicuously lacking: any point out of Europe. Whereas Alaska Airways miles have loads of strengths, Europe shouldn’t be one in all them. You may ebook flights on American Airways at fairly common charges, however award house is tough to seek out and there are higher methods to make use of these miles.

Nevertheless, you will get an excellent deal reserving off-peak awards to Europe for less than 22,500 miles every means in coach. Off peak journey dates run from October 15 to Might 15, supplying you with greater than half of the yr to get pleasure from these discounted costs.

Moreover, because of its fortress hub in Miami, American Airways dominates a lot of the site visitors between the U.S. and South America. Flights to South America zone 1 (every little thing besides Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) are priced very attractively:

  • Coach: 20,000 miles
  • Enterprise Class: 30,000 miles

Zone 1 contains well-liked locations like Quito and Lima, and AA even operates many of those flights with true lie-flat seats on the comparatively quick flights. Persevering with on to southern South America can nonetheless be a superb deal, particularly should you snag a seat in enterprise or firstclass on American Airways ’long-haul routes to Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires.

Singapore Airways

With all this speak of worldwide associate awards, let’s not neglect the superb worth Alaska Airways miles can supply for flights to Hawaii. Flights will typically be most cost-effective should you persist with Alaska Airways operated flights, akin to Portland to Kauai for less than 17,500 miles every means in coach.

If you happen to use your Alaska Airways miles to fly American Airways as an alternative, you'll pay 22,500 miles every means in coach or 40,000 in enterprise class, and between these two airways you could have entry to an intensive route community that serves many of the main Hawaiian locations .

Backside line

Alaska Airways miles can supply outsized worth to the fitting sort of traveler. If you happen to're heading to Asia and trying to fly in a premium cabin you merely can't do higher than this, however even folks touring throughout the home U.S. or to Australia or South America ought to give Alaska Airways miles severe consideration.

I’ve by no means as soon as flown on or been to Alaska, but Alaska Airways miles proceed to be my favourite frequent flyer program.

If you must top-off your Alaska Airways account, contemplate the Alaska Airways Visa Signature® bank card or Alaska Airways Visa® Enterprise bank card.

Up to date on March 9, 2020

To seek out out about extra alternatives to earn probably the most rewards for bank card spending, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets and techniques day by day electronic mail publication.

Ethan Steinberg contributed to this publish.

Editorial word: We're the Million Mile Secrets and techniques staff. And we're pleased with our content material, opinions and evaluation, and of our reader's feedback. These haven’t been reviewed, accepted or endorsed by any of the airways, accommodations, or bank card issuers which we regularly write about. And that's simply how we prefer it! 🙂

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