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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.
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.
- Aer Lingus
Air France— Partnership ended as of April 30, 2018
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- FIJI Airways
- Hainan Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Korean Air
- LATAM Airlines
PenAir— Partnership ended August 15, 2020
Ravn Alaska— Partnership ended August 15, 2020
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 Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card
- Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card
- Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 Marriott Bonvoy 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.
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