Alaska Airlines calls their frequent flyer program the Mileage Plan. While Alaska Airlines does not belong to any international alliance, they have assembled an impressive group of partner airlines and offer reward travel on all of them.
- North America availability on Alaska Airlines as well as American Airlines
- Fourteen partners with flights to virtually all international destinations
- Customized redemptions based on destination and partner
- Low ticketing and change fees
- Generous cancellation policy
- Points never expire as long as activity within a 24 month time period
- Very few blackout dates and only on Korean Air
- Provides as many Alaska Air flights as needed to reach gateway city, based on availability
- One way redemptions available for most partners
- Can mix partners on round-trip tickets
- Allows one stopover on one-way rewards
- Allows two stopovers on round-trip rewards
- Excellent search engine allows for booking 2 stopovers on-line
- Very competitive North American premium class fares
- Lower redemption fares on many partner rewards than partner offers in own program
- Can earn points and Alaska elite status when flying on partner flights
- Has branded credit card with sign up bonus
- Multiple ways to earn points including dining and shopping portals
- Ability to purchase unlimited points and often has bonus opportunities
- Round-trips required on Korean Air
- Single carrier on partner tickets in at least one direction
- Multi-class rewards, often in lower class than requested, shown in search results
- Search results filter "View by Price" often unable to show all possible reward options
- Only one credit card transfer partner, SPG
Alaska's North America reward chart shows one-way fares for Alaska Airlines as well as their North American partner American Airlines. You may also book a reward on the Cathay Pacific's fifth freedom route from JFK-Vancouver. Note: The American redemptions are effective 1-1-2018 and are actually lower than redemptions made prior to 1-1-2018.
This table represents Alaska's reward travel partners and the destinations they fly to from Continental United States, Alaska and Canada.
The International reward chart shows one-way redemptions from the Continental United States, Alaska and Canada to all international destinations. Note: Korean Air redemptions are listed for round-trips. You must book a round-trip when flying Korean Air or pay the higher fare on a one-way trip. (More on this policy under Routing.)
Other International Routes
You can also procure a reward ticket from Alaska's partners when flying from other regions to other regions, however only if they publish a fare in their reward table. For example, while Air France may fly from Paris to Singapore, you can't get a reward ticket on that itinerary. Another example is British Airways has a short flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. While you can fly to South Africa on British Airways, and potentially be on that segment flying from the U.S. to Cape Town, you can't book the segment independently.
The following table shows valid routing and airlines you must fly on.
Some useful rewards outside of North America are on Cathay Pacific where you can fly from Hong Kong to anywhere, Qantas within Australia and Japan Airlines within Asia.
Surcharges / Fees and Taxes
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan does not impose surcharges on all but 4 of their partners including rewards on their own aircraft. Surcharges are collected on British Airways, Fiji Airways, Hainan and Icelandair rewards. Other than British Airways these surcharges are reasonable. Taxes and fees are collected as well when the reward ticket is issued.
The Alaska Mileage Plan service fees are very generous as well as are the cancellation rules.
- Online ticketing: No-charge
- Call Center Ticketing: $15.00
- Partner reward fee: $12.50, each way
Change/Cancellation Fee: (Waived for MVP Gold or 75K Elite members. Not applicable to Refundable First Alaska Airlines Rewards.)
- Made 60 days in advance of departure: No-charge
- Made within 60 days: $125.00 for change or cancel
- Same day confirmed change: $25.00 (Alaska Airlines only)
Rewards with multiple class segments will be charged the highest class fare.
Alaska Airlines does not book infants on partner reward tickets. Contact partner carrier for details and ticketing. Korean Air does not allow infants in business class cabins.
Alaska Mileage Plan points do not expire. However if no activity is present in an account over a 24 month period, Alaska Airlines reserves the right to close the account which will forfeit the points.
Only Korean Air has blackout dates. For 2018 they are:
- Jan 1
- Feb 14-19
- Jul 13 - Aug 18
- Sept 20 - Sept 27
- Oct 5 - Oct 7
- Dec 20-31
The Alaska Mileage Plan reward program excels with their generous routing rules. One-way tickets are available on 12 of 14 Partners with only Delta and Korean Air requiring a round-trip ticket. Once your gateway city is determined you can fly as many Alaska Air segments as needed to reach that international gateway based on availability.
The only limitation is you must travel on a single partner from the gateway city to the destination. In other words, you can't take British Airways to London and KLM to Amsterdam. On a round-trip ticket you can fly one airline one way and a different airline on the return. This example shows how to fly on Korean Air and Delta on the same ticket. One-way on Korean Air and one-way on Delta, with an Alaska flight from the international gateway to get back home. (Note: Delta is no longer an Alaska partner, however the example is still valid with other carriers for Korean Air.)
Stopovers / Open Jaws
An outstanding feature of the Alaska program is their stopover allowance. While most programs don't allow any stopovers, and a few programs allow a single stopover on a round-trip ticket, Alaska allows one stopover on a one-way ticket and two stopovers on a round-trip ticket. Effectively you can visit 3 destinations on a round-trip ticket.
Taking advantage of this stopover rule may determine the carrier you are looking to fly. For example if you wanted a stopover in Paris, you wouldn't fly British Airways. Your only choice would be Air France. Here is a list of the many Alaska partners and where you might find a stopover available.
American Airlines has domestic possibilities and Delta has some Asian fifth freedom routes as well as domestic possibilities. Qantas also flies to Melbourne from the United States. And if you use Alaska Airlines to get to the gateway city you could always do a stopover there.
Open-Jaws are allowed as well. Of course you can just as easily book 2 one-way reward tickets with the only potential extra cost being a 2nd cancellation fee if you cancel within 60 days.
The search funtion on AlaskaAir.com is a versatile efficient search engine. It can be used for one-way, round-trip and stopover routings. All partner availability is shown on-line with the exception of Cathay Pacific and LAN. To book rewards on these carriers call 1-800-252-7522
Fill in the appropriate blanks. Make sure "Use Miles" is checked and the Award Type is Miles Only. When searching for rewards it is best to start with one-way routings to see availability. You can always piece together the segments or simply book individual one-way trips. The "Award Calendar" selection brings up a month's worth of availability. If you don't check it on the initial search page you can select it on the results page as well.
You will always get a week's worth of availability for all cabins that are available. This view by Schedule. You can also use the filters to narrow selections.
If you checked Calendar View on the main screen or check it on the results screen, one month's worth of availability will appear. The lowest fare for each date is displayed, regardless of cabin class. To view specific cabins check an Award Type under filters. You can also navigate through months of availability.
Clicking on View by Price brings up a list of possible flights and shows a line item description of the itinerary.
There is a flaw with this view in that it only shows the first 30 reward itineraries. In the event there are more than 30 options you are unable to view them. You can't filter the list down either. Until resolved this feature is limited, and unfortunately using it is very helpful when dealing with the problematic multi-class results returned on AlaskaAir.com.
When doing a search and the reward shows the seat icon you must look at the details otherwise you'll easily pay for a premium ticket and sit in coach.
The following example is in Business class for a flight from Seattle to Cape Town South Africa, a total of 36 1/2 hours, with a a fare of 70K points and $365. But when you click on the seat icon it shows the 2 international flights are in coach (35 of the 36 1/2 hours) and the 90 minute connection to Cape Town is in business. Alaska Air, as great as the program is, needs to resolve this as it is not an isolated incident. Virtually every search will have itineraries with seat icons. (On the mobile app you can't even tell what class of service you are actually getting.) The fare will always be the top class of service in the itinerary. Had the short flight below been in first class the fare would have been the first class fare.
To add a stopover during your trip simply use the Multi-City search option. The results will appear as if the flights are continuous. Click on the "# stops" to view the itinerary details. You can use Multi-City for one-way trips with one stopover as in this example, or round-trips with 2 stopovers. Only a single stopover per leg is allowed.
A two stopover round-trip search.
The date navigation bar is functionable as well on Multi-city search even though it shows a "-" for the price. Click on a new date and it will price for that date, as well as adjust your stopover by calculating in the number of original days entered.
While stopovers have already been covered, it can not be emphasized enough what a great benefit this is. A round trip ticket turns into 3 destinations which can be international or domestic. The ability to mix carriers on each side of the ticket makes getting two additional international cities possible. If you were limited to a single carrier on a round-trip, most likely you'd end up with a one international stopover city and a domestic city for the second. But with different carriers the possibilities for two international cities exist.
Great availability stands out for North America reward travel, along with the same two stopover benefits. Alaska's first class saver fare of 25K points is as good as it gets for domestic premium cabin. And with 2 of the 3 majors as partners, there isn't a city in North America that's s out of reach.
Not enough emphasis can be placed on the impressive array of partners Alaska has collaborated with. Yet going one step farther is the fact many of the reward fares are lower in Alaska's Mileage Plan than in the Partner's own program. This is a brief synopsis of some of the highlights (and difficulties) for the International Partners.
These tables compile the international awards and highlight some of the great values.
You can only use Mileage Plan points to upgrade on Alaska Airlines flights. No partner upgrades are available. Upgrades are available from economy Y,S,B,M or H booking codes to first class for a flat 15,000 point redemption and are subject to availability. The booking code for an upgrade is "U" class. You can upgrade at the time of booking the trip or at check-in if no prior availability.
You may also pay for an upgrade within 24 hours of departure. You must have a ticket booked in codes B,G,H,K,L,M,N,Q,R,S,T,W,T,Z. These are subject to availability.
Using points versus paid upgrades is a very poor return of value for your points. This table shows the paid upgrade amounts which are based on distance and what 15,000 points would be valued at. The only advantage to upgrading with points is you can secure first class at the time of booking versus it not being available within 24 hours of departure.
Money and Miles
Also only available on Alaska Air flights, this feature allows you to combine points and cash for your paid fare. You can get a $100 discount for 10,000 points or a $200 discount for 20,000 points. The discount can not be more than 50% of the original fare. This is another poor use for your points as you are only getting 1 cent per point.
You can earn points on Alaska Airlines as well as their partners.
Alaska Airlines bases their earnings on mileage flown. Alaska flights earn a minimum of 100% with the following bonuses:
- Booking Codes M and B: 25%
- Booking Codes Y and S: 50%
- First Class F or P: 75%
Minimum 500 points are awarded for flights shorter than 500 miles.
You can earn Alaska Airlines points when flying with any partner. In addition to earning points, you also earn miles towards Alaska Mileage Plan elite status. Click this link for a list of partners and the flight points awarded.
Alaska Airlines has a branded credit card issued with Bank of America. In addition to a personal card they have a business card as well. Sign up bonuses are typically offered. A Canadian card is available for Canadian residents through MBNA.
You can transfer points from other programs to Alaska Mileage Plan.
- Starwood Preferred Guest 1:1 (Plus 25% bonus on 20K increment transfers)
- Best Western Rewards 5:1
- Choice Privileges 5:1
- Diners Club Rewards: 1:1
- eRewards: $25 - 500 points
- Hilton HHonors 10:1
- IHG: 5:1
- Marriott Rewards 5:1 to 2.8:1 based on transfer amount
- Wyndam Rewards 6:1
A partial list of hotels you can earn Alaska Mileage Plan points when staying.
- Best Western: 250 points per qualified stay
- Choice Hotels: 250 points per qualified stay
- Coast Hotels: 500 points per qualified stay
- Fairmont Hotels and Resorts: 500 points per qualified stay
- Hilton Hotels: Multiple options available
- IHG: 2 points per $1USD North American IHG Hotels
- IHG: 1 point per $1USD North American Staybridge, Candlewood Suites
- IHG: 500 points per qualified stay at IHG hotels outside North America
- La Quinta: 250 points per qualified stay
- Marriott: 2 points or 1 point per $USD per qualified stay based on brand
- SPG: 2 points per $1USD per qualified stay, 1,000 bonus 2 nights at participating hotels
- Westmark: 2 points per $1USD per qualified stay
- Wyndam Group: 500 points or 2 points per $USD per qualified stay based on brand
You can earn Alaska Mileage Plan points when booking hotels on these sites:
You can earn 50 points per day when renting from the following car rental companies. Some have extra bonuses for multi-day rentals.
Mileage Plan Dining
Earn up to 5 points per dollar spent, plus a sign-on bonus when you buy your first meal. Dining Program Link.
Mileage Plan Shopping
Earn points from over 800 online stores. Watch for bonuses and take advantage of daily specials. Log-in with your Mileage Plan number here.
This is a ticket portal for live events. Receive up to 22 points per dollar on a variety of events. ScoreBig
Go to AlaskaAir.com for a full list of earnings partners.
Alaska offers unlimited purchase of points for 2.75 cents each plus tax. You may only purchase 60,000 points per day. Points are purchase through Points.com. You must be an Alaska Mileage Plan member for at least 10 days before purchasing points. Additionally Alaska regularly offers bonus points when purchasing larger quantities effectively reducing the point cost to around 2 cents each. Purchases are instantly credited to your account.
The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a fantastic program. From partners to redemptions, to fees and cancellation policies to stopovers, searching, earning points and purchasing points it ranks near the top in all categories. The only real negative is multi-class returns on the search engine. If you are undecided about which program to start to earn your reward travel, Alaska is a top recommendation.