Alaska Adds Singapore Airlines Redemptions, Cuts Stopovers Within Asia

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Alaska has added the ability to redeem miles on Singapore Airlines (except on 5th freedom flights between the U.S. and Europe), which is great news for Mileage Plan members. But there is also some bad news that largely overshadows the positive announcement: Stopovers on one-way award travel within Asia are no longer allowed.

Singapore Airlines Award Charts

Alaska Airlines already partners with several airlines based in Asia, including Cathay Pacific, Hainan Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Korean Air.  With the addition of Singapore Airlines redemptions, countless more flights are now available for redemptions to, from, and within Asia.  The ability to redeem miles on Singapore flights has been in the works for some time and completes the partnership between Alaska Airlines and Singapore Airlines that was announced back in 2017. Below is a sampling of the Mileage Plan award charts for travel on Singapore Airlines.  Note that unlike some other carriers in Asia, the award chart for Singapore Airlines flights divides the region into two pieces:

  1. Japan, Korea, and China
  2. Southeast Asia (Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)

You might notice that there is no award chart between Asia and Australia for Singapore Airlines; Australia is included in the South Pacific region and not subject to the new stopover restriction.

Travel between Asia and the Contiguous U.S. and Alaska, including direct flights to/from Japan
Intra-Asia awards are split into two regions
For travel between Asia and South Pacific

Singapore Airlines Award Redemptions

Many of Singapore's Star Alliance partners do not have access to the same award inventory they provide for their own frequent-flyer program.  However, through Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan program, business and even first class awards can be found.  Below is an example of a one-way award between Singapore and Beijing in September 2020 where award space is available in all three cabins:

Travel in economy, business, or first class on Singapore Airlines

It is worth noting that among the available airline partners for travel within Asia, Alaska's pricing for travel on Singapore Airlines does not stand out.  In particular, Cathay Pacific boasts the best redemption rates in all cabins for travel throughout all of Asia.  Economy-class awards are 12,500 miles, business-class awards are 25,000 miles, and first-class awards are just 27,500 miles.  For travel to/from other regions, awards on other partner airlines price much lower than on Singapore Airlines as well.

Reminder: Cathay Pacific flights are not searchable through the Mileage Plan award search tool.  Instead, find space using British Airways' award search tool, and then call Alaska Airlines to make a booking.

Intra-Asia Awards

Alaska Mileage Plan allows travellers a unique opportunity to add free stopovers even on one-way itineraries. For awards entirely within Asia, the program no longer allows this. As per the Mileage Plan award chart terms and conditions, “Stopovers are not available on Intra-Asia award redemptions.”  For itineraries that start or end outside of Asia, stopovers on one-way award tickets are still permitted.

In the past, travellers could utilize the generous stopover rules and essentially get two flights for the price of one.  This was a noted sweet spot of Alaska Airlines' award program.  Some of these intra-Asia flights can be quite long — Jakarta to Tokyo clocks in at seven and a half hours long.

Previously you could tack on another flight from Tokyo to a third city in Asia for no extra cost. Mileage Plan members could take advantage of these lax routing rules and travel from Jakarta to Tokyo, stop over in Tokyo for as long as desired and continue on to somewhere like Kuala Lumpur, all in lie-flat JAL business class for 25,000 Mileage Plan miles. 15+ hours of style and comfort for just 25,000 miles was a steal! Instead, this itinerary will now price at 50,000 miles.  That is still an excellent way to travel around Asia but not nearly as good of a deal as before.

Are these changes good or bad?

Any traveler who enjoys bouncing around Asia on Alaska Airlines miles will likely find this devastating. For years, savvy travelers could coordinate flights to essentially visit two destinations at a cut mileage rate through Alaska Airlines' frequent flyer program.  You could book intra-Asia awards on carriers like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines to visit two cities essentially for the price of one flight.  The latest development means that such an itinerary now prices as two separate awards rather than one.

Those without intra-Asia travel plans won't be impacted by this new routing restriction. While more options for redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan miles is a plus, there are far better ways to use these miles. Singapore's own KrisFlyer program offers better award availability—especially in business and first class—for its own members. If flying on Singapore Airlines is a must for your travels, consider transferring points from Chase, Amex, or Citi to KrisFlyer and save your Alaska miles for redemptions with less expensive partners.

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Comments

  • For me, it’s all good news. I welcome such a valuable new partner and can live without the stopovers.

  • Despite these changes, Alaska still has one of the best loyalty programs in existence today.

  • I love SQ, and appreciate more opportunities to fly them, but at 100k each way, there are cheaper options in currencies that are easier to accrue… disappointing all-around considering stopovers are gone.

  • I didn’t know how valuable that sweet spot was until they eliminated it, so I guess I can’t complain too much, but it is unfortunate. Fingers crossed they don’t eliminate their stopover rules elsewhere. I’ll earn and burn just in case though.

  • Though definitely not the best use of these miles, any opportunity for flexibility is welcome. If mikes aren’t used, they’re worth nothing. Earn and burn!

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    Alaska to Singapore? Sounds good. Alaska miles programs are very competitive. I’ll look closely at this option…

  • I think it’s great that Singapore Airlines redemptions are now possible with Alaska even if the pricing is a bit high.
    Especially since also business and first class are bookable and there’s plenty of availability.

  • Damn, those were a great sweet spot. Love SQ airline premium class though.

  • Sometimes there are also good news!
    A nice add to Alaska Mileage Plan this redemption.

  • This loophole was being abused far too much. Not surprised to see it go.

    Luckily we still get a free stopover elsewhere… 😉

  • I can say that the inclusion of a premier airline like SQ is good news.

  • The loss of a stopover is a big disappointment. Being able to book in a brief stay in another city is always a nice bonus, so this is definitely a bad move.

  • This certainly makes Alaska “stronger” as a a plan. Just wish there was a way to transfer some of the transferable points currency to alaska.

  • Wow only took 2 years 🙂 progress

  • Interesting changes. I am sad I did not have a chance to use my Alaska MIles for Intra Asia travel, but am excited to have more flexibility outside that.

  • Always good to have more partners despite the negative stopover change.

  • Alaska has the best program, good news!

  • Good news. Mileage Plan is the best program!

  • Cutting the stopovers over Asia seems to be at least, Insane. Tourism in Asia has exponentially grown since 2000s and there is no way to stop people going there, in the long run there is a high chance people will shift from Alaska to other legacy carriers that allow stopovers.

  • Being able to redeem AS miles for SQ flights definitely sounds exciting, but the award chart doesn’t seem to be particularly good.
    I think it’s still better to redeem SQ miles directly for SQ flights.

  • Wow. Didn’t know this extremely sweet spot existed. Losing the 2 for 1 pricing on flights will indeed be devastating to those that did know.

  • I was looking forward to get to Europe for 25k miles. Oh well…

  • I have heard that Singapore Airlines is a great flying experience. I am happy to see Alaska Airlines add Singapore to the partnership fold.

  • I’ll take that trade, add Singapore Airlines redemptions versus cut stopovers within Asia.

  • Its always welcoming for new partners! However cutting out long-living intra-asia stopover (even for JAL) is a BIG meh…

  • Not really interested in the stopover anyway. This does make me worried about them possibly changing other routing freedoms. At some point Alaska will have to change something to stay profitable. I’ll have to keep an eye on them.

  • The cut to stopovers is a huge blow in my opinion.

  • It’s sad that the intra Asia stopovers are gone… you could have an insane amount of flight time for a low amount of miles…

  • While flying SQ is an amazing experience, the number of AS miles required is too high for my taste

  • Even with the changes, Alaska’s program is still valuable.

  • Alaska’s program is very competitive. Singoore Airlines is a good airline for me.

  • Gabriel Grassi says:

    Alaska’s program is still a great option. The stopover change is negative.

  • The redemption rate is so high that it’s almost the same as buying revenue tickets. 145k for a one-way from US to Asia, it’s insane!

  • I really appreciated having the ability to have a stopover in Hong Kong when flying on Cathay Pacific. To me this change will be negative. Alaska miles are still ultra valuable to me though, so I am not complaining.

  • Alaska’s program is good on its own, but with SQ access, it’s very very good, in spite of the drawbacks.

  • Wish they allowed it from JFK to FRA 🙁 .

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