The Next Award Redemption I’m Most Excited To Make

It’s no secret that Alaska Mileage Plan miles are extremely valuable. Alaska doesn’t belong to any alliance, but they do have several unique airline partners both for earning and redeeming miles.

Typically when I talk about redeeming Alaska miles I highlight the value of redeeming them for travel on Cathay Pacific and Emirates, in particular in first class.

Emirates-Shower
Emirates first class — not a bad use of Alaska miles!

I’ve redeemed Alaska miles for travel on both carrier several times. Though there’s one award redemption I’ve been eying for a long time and have mentioned in passing, but haven’t actually pulled the trigger on.

Redeeming Alaska miles on Fiji Airways

Specifically, Alaska has a partnership with Fiji Airways, whereby you can earn and redeem miles for travel on them.

Why am I so excited about the prospect of redeeming Alaska miles on Fiji Airways?

  • Alaska charges just 55,000 miles for one-way business class on Fiji Airways between North America and the South Pacific
  • I’ve always wanted to visit Fiji, though it never seems practical to redeem miles there
  • Alaska allows stopovers on one-way awards, so you can redeem miles for a stopover in Fiji enroute to Australia or New Zealand
  • That means for 55,000 miles you can fly from Los Angeles to Nadi, have a stopover, and then from Nadi to Auckland or Sydney, for example

LAXNANAKL

Fiji-Airways-Award-Chart

Fiji Airways route network

For a bit of background, here’s Fiji Airways’ route network (which isn’t very well color coded, if you ask me, given that they use different shades of red for their own routes and their partners’ routes):

Fjii-Route-Network

As you can see, their US destinations include Los Angeles and Honolulu.

In terms of destinations from there they have several flights to Australia, New Zealand, and other islands in the South Pacific.

Fiji Airways business class

What’s Fiji Airways’ business class product like? They have some Airbus A330s which are quite new, though they feature angled flat seats. At least they’re “fresh” looking.

Fiji-Airways-Business-Class

How good is award space on Fiji Airways?

Award space is actually quite good on Fiji Airways. For example, below are the dates next May with two business class award seats between Los Angeles and Nadi, for example.

Fiji-Awards-1

You could pay just 55,000 miles to fly between Los Angeles and Fiji.

Fiji-Awards-2

Or for the same number of miles you can add a stopover and then continue to Auckland, for example.

Fiji-Awards-4

You can search award space directly on Alaska’s website, if you’d like. There’s a handy calendar function, so you can search a month of availability at a time.

You can also use ExpertFlyer to search Fiji Airways award space. The advantage of doing so is that you can set availability alerts, so if there’s not space now they’ll alert you when space does open up.

The thing worth noting, however, is that Alaska has access to two fewer Fiji Airways business class award seats than ExpertFlyer shows. In other words, if a flight shows as being “U4” on ExpertFlyer, it actually only has two business class award seats available through Alaska. If a flight shows as being “U2” on ExpertFlyer, it actually doesn’t have any business class award seats available through Alaska.

Fiji-Awards-3

Fiji hotels?

One thing I’m still trying to figure out is the Fiji hotel situation. It looks like there’s a nice InterContinental in Fiji, which gets pretty good reviews.

There are also four Starwood properties in Fiji (three Sheratons and one Westin), though they seem to get pretty mixed reviews.

Anyone have thoughts on the best hotel option in Fiji?

Bottom line

While I of course love redeeming miles for flights with showers and bars, redeeming Alaska miles for travel on Fiji Airways seems like one of the most direct ways to get to New Zealand on miles at a pretty low cost while also being able to have a stopover in a new place. What’s not to love?

Has anyone been to Fiji, or anyone eying a similar redemption?

Comments

  1. It’s not the best product, but the food is decent and the service is Fiji friendly. Why they put those seats on their brand new planes, I’ll never know.

    The Intercon is nice, but that part of Fiji (basically the whole of Viti Levu) lacks a bit of what is unique about Fiji – the various island chains, and the ‘unspoiled north’ island of Vanua Levu.

    The other major chain hotels are forgettable, especially in Denarau.

    My family owns and runs a resort on Vanua Levu called Koro Sun Resort. While we don’t have the white sand beaches of the Mamanuca chain, we do have some of the only over-water units in Fiji, and just about every other type of accommodation you could prefer. If you’re interested in coming up that way, while we can’t offer you loyalty points, surely we could arrange some upgrades and champagne 😉

  2. Hi, Lucky. I was looking at this option to get from LAX to Australia or New Zealand. I’m also looking at HA from HNL as another option. In terms of aircraft and service, which would you prefer, Fiji or Hawaiian? I seem to have read that HA is looking to upgrade some of their aircraft. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you in advance!

  3. You should strongly consider staying at the interconti for a couple nights and then take a boat to one of the nearby island resorts (theres a bunch of companies that run multi-daily trips) for a couple days. Not going to get the whole island feeling staying on Nadi as hotels on Nadi (and nadi in general) is kind of disappointing (would compare to like freeport in the Bahamas).

  4. My wife and I chose the Hilton on Denarau as part of an award redemption under the old DL rules – details of the redemption, the hotel, and our activities in Fiji (with lots of pictures) here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1506607-australia-fiji-photos-29k-miles-5-carriers-wn-y-va-j-qf-y-j-fj-j-ke-j.html

    The Intercontinental is off in the middle of nowhere…and, you can visit the beach there without even staying there (we did and you can see pictures of Natadola Beach in my FT TR). If you’re staying in Fiji for any period of time, you’ll want to take a boat or flight out to and stay at one of the more remote islands (for example, Cast Away was filmed near Mana Island).

  5. Ben, if u have time, make sure u visit one of the smaller Fiji islands. While Nandi is nice, the islands are amazing. Most of the time, the island has only one or two resorts. They are a bargain compared to the resorts in Hawaii.

  6. Fiji is beautiful. The people are kind and welcoming. Highly recommend you get off the main island for the true island experience. While no one else mentioned it, you should be aware of the tensions between the native islanders and the Indians who were brought to the island by the British and stayed. Also, when I visited, there was a bloodless coup, so armed military (this has happened many times in Fiji). My friend, who is well traveled to problem areas recommends that you don’t stare or you’ll get their attention. Not that this will happen while you are there, but you never know.

  7. Hi Lucky – what are your travel dates? Are you traveling in May or are those sample dates?

    You really need to consider a few of the hotels in Fiji outside the major chains. I might have some suggestions for you.

  8. Intercontinental is lovely and relatively new (built in 2009). I would absolutely stay away from the Sheraton. I went there 20 years ago and has not been renovated since. Like others, I’d recommend spending a few nights at Intercontinental then heading to one of the islands l.

  9. Love, love, love New Zealand. One of our top five all time favorite destinations. Please tell me you’re ultimately headed on to the South Island, and not just stopping at Auckland. The North Island is nice enough but the most amazing part of NZ is the South Island.

  10. I have flown Fiji Airways form SYD-NAN in J and I had a great flight. The cabin is gorgeous and the service pretty good. I have stayed twice now at the Westin hotel at Denarau and it’s gorgeous. It has a true authentic Fiji feel and the staff are wonderful. You are a 14min walk from the Port Denarau or quick 5min open air shuttle. You can catch day trips, shopping, food etc. The resort is stunning and very Fijian. Though I would highly recommend going out to the islands for a night to get a true feel for Fiji and it’s amazing crystals clear water and white sandy beaches, eg: castaway island. There a lots of great hotels in Fiji but the Westin by far gives you a feel that you are actually in Fiji and not some random 5 star resort that could be in Florida. I wrote a trip report on flyertalk about my experience with Fiji airways and the Westin.

  11. When in Fiji, you must let go of your miles and point. True Fiji is off the main island, period. Whatever you do, do not waste points on Denarau resort; except when transiting; and go to the archipelago. Octopus resort or Blue Lagoon are two great places to stay at, for example. Independent hotels, nicely run, in paradise.

  12. I was eyeing that redemption myself for one of my trips to New Zealand. The ultimate in Fiji is Laucala. One place I really want to stay is Royal Davui. What others have said about Nadi is true – you will not get a feel for the real Fiji. The Radisson is decent.

  13. 1000% agree with the other commenters that you should get out to one of the thousand islands on Fiji. The experience is so much better. Yasawas are the way to go.

    Fiji blew my expectations out of the water, but it was only by island hopping in the Yasawas. It’s easy. Feel free to email me if I can help. If you just stay at the Intercontinental, you will have a fine resort experience, but it would be a shame.

  14. I am fairly excited that I can offer Ben some first-hand advice!

    I strongly agree with what many others have said: forget the points and stay at a small resort on one of the outer islands. Splurge on the Royal Dauvi. It will be so much more memorable and special then that Westin. I’ve also been to Wakaya Club; the island is gorgeous, the service is very good, but the decor is severely dated.

    Ben, some may criticize you for wanting to go to a country that has a history of being deeply homophobic. I’ve been to Fiji twice with my boyfriend and never had any issues. We were shown nothing but friendship, kindness and respect.

  15. IC Fiji is nice. There are certainly better places on Fiji, but nothing wrong with the IC. Great club lounge on the hill w/ private club pool and amazing views.

  16. A footnote to my previous comment: the Royal Dauvi is, mercifully, an adults only environment. It was a figurative–and literal!–breath of fresh air. Such a beautiful place.

  17. Great post. I travel to Vanuatu about once a year from the USA and this would be a convenient and low cost routing as I have had to go to New Zealand or Australia to catch a flight there. I think Vanuatu is only a three hour flight from Fiji.

    I just booked the Marriott Hotel in Bangkok with Marriott’s Hotel+Air package which will give me back 120,000 airline miles. I opted for Alaska miles as I have used them for Emirates and recently Qantas First Class cabins. Alaska miles are incredibly useful.

  18. Ben!

    Shhhhh! I thought we agreed that the tasty Alaska redemptions were just a secret between the two of us!

  19. Awesome! I’ve been looking at Fiji to get back from NZ next year, as I wouldn’t mind an angled seat on a daytime flight as much.

  20. Get out to the Mamanucas, or, better yet, the Yasawas. They are beautiful, and the diving is fantastic.

    I stayed on resort-heavy Denarau and can say that the Sheraton was deifinitely mediocre. However, the Radisson Blu was fantastic.

  21. I recently stayed at the Westin for 1 night. The location is Ok, but the suite we had wasn’t very good. My wife tweeted at 2am to Westin that the bed clearly wasn’t the advertised ‘Heavenly’ bed.

    The area near the airport is the least Fijian part of Fiji. You must get out to the islands to see what this place is all about.

    Fiji airways is pretty good though, but they can have major delays when one of their planes gets out of rotation. A plane was damaged in LAX in May and the schedule was screwed for weeks afterwards!

    The J seats are much better than the Air Tahiti Nui ones that look very similar and were installed at about the same time.

  22. Been to the Intercontinental Fiji. Was very nice, though a bit isolated — great for couples, not sure I’d go alone. I did 5 nights there + 2 night on Malolo island (and visited many of the islands around it, including Mana/Castaway). These last 2 days were the best. I’d recommend island hopping for a good 3-5 days to enjoy a lot.

  23. You might consider flying to Fiji and then onward to Western Samoa and from there to Australia or New Zealand. Western Samoa is cheaper than Fiji and has a couple of good hotels. Western Samoa is also a quick hop (about 100 miles) from American Samoa, which is part of the U.S.A. American Samoa is totally off the map for tourists. The hotels stink there but there’s a good national park.

  24. Sounds like a more realistic than redemption on Air New Zealand… Maybe one day, Air NZ will have a J award on IAH-AKL flight *sigh*

  25. Did redemptions on Fiji in business class recently dry up on Alaska? There are no business class redmptions available at all. There is no reward space available after Deccember 6th.

  26. Business class is back… Grabbed two seats sea-syd for early February. No stopover. Will boom return flight when the schedule opens up with a stop in nadi

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