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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:
- Japan, Korea, and China
- 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.
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:
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.
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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