6 Great Uses Of Alaska Miles

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Alaska Mileage Plan is one of my all around favorite mileage currencies, as they have a unique array of partners, favorable award redemption rates, and allow free stopovers on one-way award tickets (one of the few airlines which allows that nowadays). As a matter of fact, I’d say the relative value of Mileage Plan miles is increasing even further, given the upcoming devaluation of AAdvantage miles on March 22, 2016.

Alaska is offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles

Alaska frequently offers bonuses on the purchase of miles. For example, through March 31, 2016, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus, which is about as good as these publicly available bonuses get.

Alaska-Bonus

You can purchase up to 60,000 Mileage Plan miles per transaction (pre-bonus), meaning you could purchase 84,000 miles (including the bonus) for $1,773.75, which is ~2.11 cents per mile. There’s also no limit to how many Mileage Plan miles you can buy, so you could buy a million miles if you’d like, in theory.

What makes Alaska Miles great

Last September I wrote a post entitled “6 Reasons Buying Alaska Miles Is A Good Deal.” I figured I’d quickly recap the basics here, since these are some of the reasons Alaska miles are so valuable. Check out that post for full details, though just to summarize, here’s what makes Mileage Plan so unique:

6 great uses of Alaska miles

With the above out of the way, I figured I’d share six great uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles, as I see it.

Here are Alaska’s award charts, which are region based, though there are different prices for different airlines:

Intra-StateContinental U.S. and CanadaHawaii
MexicoCaribbean Central and South America
EuropeAfrica – Middle East – India Australia – NZ – South Pacific
Asia

All of the below prices are one-way, and you’re allowed a free stopover enroute to your destination (so on a roundtrip you could have two stopovers):

US to Asia in Cathay Pacific first class — 70,000 miles

Cathay Pacific has one of my all around favorite first class products, and historically I’ve typically redeemed American miles for it. However, as of March 22 the cost of redeeming American miles for a Cathay Pacific first class award between the US and Asia will be increasing from 67,500 miles to 110,000 miles.

Alaska continues to charge just 70,000 miles for a one-way award, and perhaps best of all, allows a free stopover. So you could fly something like New York to Hong Kong, have a stopover of several days, and then continue from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class-777-31

US to Australia in Cathay Pacific business class — 60,000 miles

Alaska allows for some creative routings, so you can redeem miles for travel on Cathay Pacific from the US to Africa, Australia, or the Middle East, all through Hong Kong.

Australia is one of the toughest places in the world to get on miles, so for just 60,000 miles you book Cathay Pacific business class from the US to Australia or New Zealand, with a stopover in Hong Kong. Furthermore, Cathay Pacific frequently makes up to five business class seats available per flight, so this can be useful even if you’re traveling as a larger group.

Cathay-Pacific-Business-Class-A330-40

US to South Pacific in Fiji Airways business class — 55,000 miles

This is the next redemption I’m most excited to make, which highlights both Alaska’s unique airline partners, as well as the benefit of their stopover policy. Alaska partners with Fiji Airways, and charges just 55,000 miles for one-way business class between the US and Australia/New Zealand.

Fiji-Airways-Award

The best part is that you can do a stopover in Fiji, which works out especially well since you can visit while enroute to Australia/New Zealand. Fiji is a place I’ve always wanted to visit, though I’m not sure I want to visit it badly enough to plan a trip to just there. A stopover makes it much easier to justify.

The catch is that Fiji Airways business class award availability can be tough to come by, so you’ll need a good amount of flexibility to make this work. It’s not impossible to find, though.

Fiji-Airways-Business-Class

US to Africa/Asia/Europe in Emirates first class — 100,000 miles

Emirates first class is probably my favorite product in the world in terms of how fun it is, and redeeming Alaska miles is the best way to book it. While Alaska charges 90,000 miles for one-way first class between the US and Middle East, for an extra 10,000 miles you can continue to Europe, Asia, or Africa, after a stopover. That can potentially translate to an extra 6-10 hour flight in Emirates first class.

If you’re an airplane product geek and haven’t yet flown Emirates first class, it’s a must. There’s nothing quite like showering on Emirates!

Emirates-First-Class - 1

US to South America in LAN business class — 45,000 miles

I recently flew LAN Chile from Madrid to Frankfurt, and enjoyed my flight on them. LAN is one of the largest airlines in South America, and Alaska has the best redemption rates for travel on them.

For just 45,000 miles you can book a business class award between the US and South America with a stopover, allowing you to visit two cities on one award. For example, you could fly from Los Angeles to Lima, have a stopover, and then continue from Lima to Santiago several days later.

LAN-Business-Class-787 - 25

US to Australia in Qantas business class — 55,000 miles

Many people planning an aspirational trip to the South Pacific want to visit both Australia and New Zealand. One of the best ways to do that is by redeeming Alaska miles, since you can do a stopover in Australia enroute to New Zealand. While Qantas business class award space isn’t readily available, with some advance planning and flexibility it’s not impossible to come by.

So you could book something like Los Angeles to Sydney, and then after a stopover of however long you’d like, you can continue from Sydney to Auckland, or another city in New Zealand.

Qantas-Business-Class-747-05

Bottom line

While I don’t count on the value of any mileage currency staying disproportionately good long term, right now Alaska Mileage Plan has some incredible redemption values. Not only are their redemption rates much better than industry average, but the ability to add a free stopover on a one-way award is so valuable, given some of the unique partners they have, and the cities in which that enables stopovers.

Even if Alaska were to devalue, I think they’d still have an edge over the competition, since that they allow stopovers on one-way awards. Given how much extra it can cost to add on a flight between certain regions, that’s a huge perk.

As a reminder, Alaska is offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles through March 31, 2016, which is about as good as it gets. I wouldn’t count on Mileage Plan redemption rates sticking around forever, so if you’ve been pushing off buying and/or redeeming Alaska miles, I’d stop procrastinating.

What’s your favorite use of Alaska Mileage Plan miles?

Comments

  1. Absolutely an amazing and thorough review of the Alaska miles. Thank you so much. Great work.

  2. Hey! I need to go WAS-CCU-WAS in December. Can I structure it like this –
    WAS – CCU (Stay in CCU for a month) – Europe (100K miles in First class)
    Europe – WAS – Another carrier.

    If so, are there any pitfalls. Also which are the cities in Europe that are served by A380 if any? Sorry if these are too many questions.

  3. I believe that the best feature of a stopover is that it actually allows you to redeem an award. When we talk about good availability, that means that there may be 4 or 5 days in a month with availability. So combine that with two segments, and the probability that the flights match up to make an award are slim. With a stop over, that allows many more routes to be booked.

    I agree Alaska Airline miles are the most valuable because of
    – awards that they let you book on top partners (Cathay, Emirates etc.)
    – stop overs – allow you to actually book a trip
    – rates (one of the lowest for many routes/awards)
    – range of partners. Emirates, Cathay, Delta, American , KLM etc. Believe it or not I find today that I book my AS miles to Europe on Delta instead of American Airlines, because American Airlines just does not release any decent space or connecting space for business class.

  4. It is nice in theory to be able to book to/from US to syd thru HKG but Cathay never seems to release seats on the HKG-SYD leg. Even last minute. Just doesn’t happen.

  5. Hi Lucky.. My wife and I did as you stated- EK to DXB, 4 day stopover and onto Muc all in F. Now the hard part. My wife is from Baveria and we usually star 4-5 months. What city would we have the best chance for CX in first from Europe to Hkg with a 2-3 day stopover and onto the west coast (again what city)in F with Cx! Thanks for all the info you provide everyone.

  6. There has never been availability of Qantas business class to Australia when I’ve looked. On May 31, for example, there is only mixed cabin “business” class awards from LAX to Syd. The LAX – Melbourne leg is in economy and the Melbourne Syd leg (a 1 hour flight) is in business. Good luck finding a real business class award.

  7. @Ajay

    Sorry that will not work, stopovers on Alaska award have to be either an city Alaska flies to or the partners hub. For Emirates that mean Dubai.

    You best bet would be to do US-DXB-Stopover-Europe and during the stopover get a separate ticket to India.

    Many major cities in Europe has EK 380 service.

    @Mike K
    CX Europe to HKG would be a separate award since Alaska does not publish an award chart for EU-HKG-US on CX. Only Emirates and EU airline partners can be use on Alaska miles US-EU or EU-US

  8. Maybe note AU-HKG-USA on CX in first for 80,000. The AU-HKG leg being business class and the HKG-USA leg being in first. For me the HKG-USA leg being in first class is worth the 20,000 extra points. Also access to all the first lounges in HKG assuming no status.

  9. @ Ben or anyone on this forum
    couple of questions – if one uses AS miles
    1) what’s the best way to search for Qantas availability for any particular month ?
    2) if one routes LAX-SYD, with stopover in SYD and then proceeds SYD-Auckland -LAX – so this will all be counted as one / stop per segment within the 55K required miles for business class, right ?

  10. @Andrew F – You can use the AA website to search for Qantas availability. Alaska’s site also shows Qantas availability but it’s just not as easy to check month at a time. And yes, you can have a layover in Sydney and then connect onto Auckland. The only catch is that you can’t mix partners, so all segments would have to be on Qantas.

  11. There’ s two stop overs allowed at Emirates, diferent than Dubai, at the same ticket reward. However, awards generally are only available at business class, specially in the first option. The routes are:

    Usa – dubai- colombo (sri lanka) with stopover at Colombo for as many days as wanted, and them follow until male at the Maldives.

    The other is even better. Usa- dubai- bangcok (stopover at thailand for as long as you want) and then follow until Hong Kong at the same ticket. This one appears even with first class seats availability.

    The reason for this is because the flights from colombo to male and the one from Bangcok to Hong Kong are just the sequence from the leg started at dubai (done at same airplane with a small scale at the intermediate referred city).

    I believe this is a good tip.

  12. I was looking for award space for JFK-BOM and what I found is for dates as far as July it shows First reward space availability, but in reality it is JFK-DXB in Coach and
    DXB-BOM in First. Yet it’s charging 90,000 for the reward. How lame is that?

    @Lucky – Any thoughts about this? How could they sell this as an F reward when the long haul leg is coach and the short haul is F.

  13. Three comments on redeeming Alaska miles for Emirates:

    1. The fare basis is some kind of staff ticket. Therefore, there is (in theory), no baggage allowance! This gives rise to some quizzical looks on the part of check-in personnel, but obviously you need to be allowed to brings bags with you, so they just shrug, call a supervisor, and there hasn’t been any problem with several US-DXB-BKK or DAC trips on Emirates.

    2. They do provide a driver for tickets bought with mileage, or at least there did a couple of months ago. This was JFK to my destination in Connecticut.

    3. One can travel in F from Hawaii to the US West Coast to DXB to BKK and HKG, all for 100,000 miles. This is something else… And note the stopovers. All included.

  14. the best use seems to be departure to/from US.

    Any recommendations if there is a valulable way to redeem Asia to Europe ?

    thanks !

  15. @Nicholas
    How do you get the HNL to HKG route to work? Do you do a multi-city stop and you were able to put in three stop-overs?

  16. When trying to find reward availability on CX going from the US to Sydney with a stop-over in HKG, is the best way to do it going on BA and looking at availability via the two segments separately (US-HKG, HKG-SYD)? And does anyone know if there seems to generally be low availability in business/first class seats from HKG-SYD when booking far in advance (10 months or so) since BA keeps coming up with nothing on their website when I have tried.

  17. I am confused. Someone please set me straight.

    If I only have Alaska miles, how do I book Fiji, or Cathay using Alaska miles, but at Fiji and Cathay miles requirements.

  18. Thanks for another great post. I ve been collecting Alaska miles for over a year, but have only seen 25-30k signups from BOA. Any idea how often they come around?

  19. Hello Everyone/Travel Experts,

    I know it is a bit late to ask this question. With Alaska Miles, is it possible to book award ticket Asia – Europe, say from Singapore – Paris.

    Thank you and best regards

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