Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Sweet Spots

AwardWallet receives compensation from advertising partners for links on the blog. The opinions expressed here are our own and have not been reviewed, provided, or approved by any bank advertiser. Here's our complete list of Advertisers.

We’ve outlined why Alaska Mileage Plan is our favorite frequent flyer program in previous posts. But to date, we’ve never covered the awesome redemption values available to Mileage Plan members. With airline partners spanning all three global alliances, plus a few top-value independent partners, Alaska offers some of the best business and first-class redemptions of any airline rewards program in the world.

Alaska Boeing 737 Max

Here we’re tackling Mileage Plan sweet spots and pointing out where we think some of the best value can be found in Alaska’s numerous partner award charts.

Alaska Mileage Plan Airline Partners

Alaska is not a member of any single alliance, which has allowed it to build a diverse set of airline partners. You can search the majority of partners on AlaskaAir.com except for Cathay Pacific and LATAM. For these airlines, you’ll need to search via British Airways website, and call Mileage Plan reservations on 800-654-5669 to book your award.

  • Aeromexico
  • Air FrancePartnership ended as of April 30, 2018
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Condor
  • Emirates
  • FIJI Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM Airlines
  • PenAir
  • Qantas
  • Ravn Alaska
  • Singapore

Increase Your Balance of Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

You can earn Mileage Plan miles flying on Alaska, and credit miles when flying Alaska’s extensive list of partners, including American, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and JAL. Alaska also has a shopping portal, a dining portal, and long list of hotel and car rental partners that can give your balance a boost, but we think the easiest way of collecting Alaska miles is via transfer partners and co-brand credit cards.

Alaska also runs regular promos that offer up to a 50% bonus on purchased Mileage Plan miles, a great way of topping off an account to reach a specific redemption.

Tip: Mileage Plan Miles don't expire as long as you keep your account active. Keeping your account active includes earning or redeeming at least one mile in a 24-month period.

Best Value Alaska Mileage Plan Redemptions

One of Mileage Plan's best features is that it allows a stopover on one-way awards, including domestic redemptions! There are mileage programs that don’t even allow one-way awards, let alone stopovers, so the ability to add two additional destinations to a round-trip award adds huge value to Alaska redemptions.

Changes to award tickets are free 60+ days out, then $125 for non-elites. Fees are waived for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K.

US -> Tokyo (Stopover) -> Delhi 70K in JAL First

mileage-plan-us-asia-JAL

In a move that took many of us by surprise, Mileage Plan added JAL as a partner late in 2016, opening up some of the best value redemptions across Alaska’s entire network. JAL's first-class service and hard product are second to none, so at 70K miles, the stopover in Tokyo is icing on the cake for this redemption to India.

Intra-Asia With A Stopover for 22.5K in Cathay or Hainan Business

Mileage-plan-intra-asia

Given how generous Alaska’s region definitions are, this is a heck of a deal, particularly when you take the stopover into account. Between Cathay and Hainan, they have a substantial route network in the area, or if you want to route your stopover through Japan, you can jump onboard JAL business-class for an additional 2,500 miles (25K total).

LA -> Fiji (Stopover) -> Auckland 55K in Fiji Airways Business

mileage-plan-us-nz-fiji-air

For 55K Alaska miles, you can fly Fiji Airways business class from the US to New Zealand with a stopover in tropical Fiji. If visiting two of the world’s best destinations is not already incentive enough, flying to both destinations in business class for just 55K is a steal. Because Alaska lets you redeem for one-way awards, you could potentially fly outbound with a stop in Fiji, and choose a stopover in another destination on the way back, getting three destinations for the same cost as a single round-trip.

Dallas -> Sydney (Stopover) -> Perth 55/70K in Qantas Business/First

mileage-plan-us-au-qantas

Redeeming Qantas first class to Sydney is considered a unicorn of the award travel world, with availability so slim it’s almost never seen. But, it does exist and our Editor-in-Chief, Howie, recently bagged this award for 70K Alaska miles flying Qantas first-class DWF-SYD. Taking advantage of Mileage Plan’s generous routing rules you could book Sydney as your stopover and travel as far as Perth on a single award, over 10,000 miles of first and business class travel for 70K!

Sydney -> Hong Kong (Stopover) -> US 60/80K in Cathay Pacific Business/First

mileage-plan-au-us-cathay-pacific

Continuing the top value methods of flying premium cabins between the US and Australia/New Zealand is Cathay Pacific. Redemptions are a touch over what you’ll fork over for Qantas at 60K for business and 80K for first, but you get to fly one of the best premium cabin products in the world and you can take advantage of a stopover in Hong Kong to eat your fill of dumplings.

US -> Asia, South Africa, or the Middle East 70K in Cathay Pacific First

Cathay Pacific features fairly heavy on this list, and when you compare these award rates to almost any other program in the world, the value is second to none. Redeeming Alaska miles is one of the best value approaches to experiencing one of the best first-class cabins in the world.

Cheap Domestic Flights Within North America With a Stopover

Alaska transitioned to a distance-based chart for domestic awards back in late 2016 which allows for a stopover on-route. There are four tiers named:

  • Hop – Flights less than 700 miles start at 5,000 miles
  • Skip – Flights between 701 and 1,400 miles start at 7,500 miles
  • Jump – Flights between 1,401 and 2,100 miles start at 10,000 miles
  • Leap – Flights over 2,101 start at 12,500 miles

You need to explore some of Alaska’s routes to make the most of the domestic charts, but again, the addition of stopovers on domestic awards is a real treat when you compare them to legacy carrier awards on the same routes.

Final Thoughts

With some of the best value premium cabin redemptions of any frequent flyer program in the world, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan deserves its place at the top of our list of favorite award travel programs. You can earn miles via the co-brand cards or transfer them in from your SPG Amex account, and your miles won’t expire as long as you have a qualifying activity inside each 24-month period.

If you have any questions about Alaska Mileage Plan, please reach out in the comments.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Sweet Spots
5 (100%) 5 votes
AwardWallet Tip of The Day
Did you know that for each airline within one of the global alliances you can view the balances across all carriers in this alliance? Click the alliance icon in the list of accounts next to any airline in an alliance to see the details.
Show me how

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  • Bertrand Say says:

    I plan on using my miles for a trip to Asia.

  • Thanks! Love the Australia to US via HK redemption, and availability on CX is usually OK(ish).

  • I would love to do the LA stopover FIJI to Auckland in business class for only 55 k.

  • Awesome. I also love how Alaska still calculates accruals using miles vs fare based.

  • ive been looking at using Alaska miles on JAL, but didn’t know about the stopover option. sweet!

  • Alaska has been such a great program. So happy to see it around, keeps the other companies a little more honest.

  • I had definitely looked into some of these awards and I definitely want to do one. Just gotta get more miles first

  • Thank you for pointing out all the options.

  • I wish Alaska would build out their East Coast routes.

  • Somehow I had missed the cheap distance-based domestic awards.

  • Intra-Asia seems to be a super deal!!

  • Love the sweet spot posts, keep them coming, thanks very much!

  • This is a terrific article about a terrific airline. Thx so much for all the info!

  • Thanks for the tips

  • I just started accruing with Alaska and it’ll be sweet to try for dfw to syd! We’ll see if I can ever find it :o) But just to be able to use them domestically or to Hawaiian will be a boon. I’m from PNW originally and really didn’t fly Alaska since I mainly went to the southern US. Never really saw them as going more outside the PNW.

    Any word how long the SPG credit cards will still be around?

  • Thanks for the tip

  • I did the Fiji Airways 55k award LAX-NAN(stop)-AKL. It was pretty sweet. Availability for 2 business seats was good at the 6 month mark as well!

  • This is a useful guide. Mileage Plan really is the best after other airlines have devalued their programs.

  • Nice options out of Sydney!

  • No doubt this is one of the best airline frequent flyer programme.
    Thanks for letting us know the best sweet spots.

  • I’ll have to remember the Alaska Airlines credit card. The link brings up a Bank Of America application with a bonus of 30,000 miles plus a $100 credit and free companion offer with $1000 spent. If it wasn’t for the increased $30,000 Amtrak offer expiring this month and the new Premium Rewards credit card, both also from Bank )f America, it might be worth considering now, but maybe there will be a increased bonus promo one day.

  • Thanks for this advice. New sweet spot will probably arrive in the next few months with the partership with Singapour Airlines. Will be great

  • I love Alaska air like southwest. Ofcoursebetter partner redemption

  • Alaska air my fav. I think this program is tops for me. Hawaii this year , Asia 2018. 🥂

  • Great informative article!

    Alaska Air has been a favorite of mine since I started flying with them in high school. My loyalty was ensured when they recently reinstated an old expired mileage account. I had just asked for my credit towards million mile status but was surprised when they issued the old miles as well. The Signature card is a great deal for me even just for the free luggage. Also, they in line transferred my luggage for free when I was connecting with Korean Air on a separate ticket. Was surprised and delighted when the check-in attendant brought this option up, which I was not aware of.

    Btw, my American Airlines miles expires 2/25/18, would greatly appreciate 5 bonus miles to my account! 🙂 Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

**You may receive 5 bonus AAdvantage miles for leaving a comment (Details/FAQ)