Alaska Adds (Expensive) Awards To Australia & New Zealand

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Yesterday Alaska published rates for Japan Airlines awards, which we’re pretty excited about. It looks like Alaska has been making other updates this week as well, which are pretty interesting.

As I mentioned yesterday, Alaska Mileage Plan is unique in that they have a separate award chart for each partner carrier. Both the origin and destination country have to be listed on the award chart for that specific carrier, otherwise it’s not a valid redemption.

As of yesterday, for example, you couldn’t use Alaska miles for Emirates or American awards to/from Australia. That appears to have changed overnight, as I’m now seeing redemption options on both carriers.

American awards are now available to the South Pacific

For some reason, when American launched service to Australia and New Zealand, Alaska didn’t make those redemptions available. For the most part this is a moot point, as award availability is horrendously poor on American in general, and especially in premium cabins, but the option is theoretically available:


Again, this space is super super rare, so I wouldn’t count on it being available ever, but it’s nice to have I suppose, though given Alaska’s other award prices for travel on American I think it’s a little expensive.

Emirates awards are also now available to the South Pacific

This is way more exciting, primarily due to Emirates’ route network, and generally good availability. Alaska is now publishing prices for awards on Emirates to Auckland and a variety of Australian destinations.


Here is the updated award chart for Emirates redemptions using Alaska miles:

Business ClassFirst Class
North America to India/Middle East82,500 miles150,000 miles
North America to Asia105,000 miles180,000 miles
North America to Europe105,000 miles180,000 miles
North America to Africa120,000 miles200,000 miles
North America to South Pacific120,000 miles225,000 miles

Comparatively, the business class awards aren’t horribly priced, especially as they include a stopover, and have very low taxes and fees. For context, using other miles you’d expect to pay the following for a one-way business class award to the South Pacific:

Airline ProgramMiles Required - BusinessTransfer Partners
Air Canada Aeroplan80,000 American Express Membership Rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest
Air France FlyingBlue 120,000American Express Membership Rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest
Citi ThankYou Points
Alitalia Milemiglia150,000*American Express Membership Rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest
Alaska Airlines Mileage PlanAir France to Tahiti: 60,000
Cathay Pacific: 60,000
Delta: 160,000*
Fiji Airways: 55,000
Korean Air: 125,000
Qantas: 55,000
Starwood Preferred Guest
American Airlines AAdvantage80,000Starwood Preferred Guest
Avianca LifeMiles80,000
British Airways Executive ClubDistance BasedAmerican Express Membership Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Delta SkyMiles~80,000 American Express Membership Rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands97,500Citi ThankYou Points
Korean Air SkyPassKorean: 97,500
Partners: 185,000*
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Lufthansa Miles & More92,500Starwood Preferred Guest
Singapore KrisFlyerWest coast to West Australia on Singapore: 80,750
East coast to West Australia on Singapore: 87,125
West coast to East Australia /New Zealand on Singapore: 85,000
East coast to East Australia /New Zealand on Singapore: 91,375
Partners: 97,500
American Express Membership Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Citi ThankYou Points
Starwood Preferred Guest
United Mileage PlusUnited: 70,000
Partners: 80,000
Chase Ultimate Rewards

So these Emirates awards are hardly a bargain, but aren’t unacceptable for business class. I realize I was just griping about an award on American that is 40,000 miles less one-way, but the situation with Emirates is a little different.

Emirates awards cost more in general, for one thing, and availability is also generally quite good in advance for Emirates business class. Factor in a stopover somewhere interesting (as opposed to Los Angeles), and if you’re traveling as a family this could be a decent alternative.

You do, however, want to be sure to choose the A380 for business class flights — the 777 product isn’t that great. The taxes and fees are also reasonable, which is nice.


First class, of course, is outrageously priced, and I can’t really recommend it for this cost unless you were otherwise thinking of purchasing business class tickets, and are instead buying miles to redeem for first. It’s hardly a bargain, but in some circumstances it could make sense for your situation.

On the plus side, you can get four showers on this award if you plan your routing right, which certain owners of this blog people might think is worth doing at ~56k miles per shower. 😉

Emirates A380 shower suite

Earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles

Alaska Mileage Plan is a Starwood transfer partner, meaning you can transfer Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. So you can easily rack up these miles through the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Starwood is also selling points at the moment for a mystery discount of up to 50%, which is potentially a good opportunity.

Beyond that, Alaska frequently offers a bonus on purchased miles. Through December 31, 2016, for example, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles. At that rate you’ll end up paying ~2.11 cents per mile, making a one-way business class ticket between the US and Australia ~$2500, with the option to have a stopover in Dubai.

JAL Mileage Bank is still the better deal for Emirates First

If you really really really want to fly Emirates first class to the South Pacific, Japan Airlines has the better pricing. Their award prices are based on cumulative distance, so the cost varies a bit based on the city pairs, but as examples of round-trip Emirates first class awards:

  • 250,000 miles New York to Sydney
  • 290,000 miles Los Angeles to Sydney

The business class awards are similarly priced (again, these are round-trip):

  • 160,000 miles New York to Sydney
  • 190,000 miles Los Angeles to Sydney

So in both case JAL awards are less expensive, but it is a bit more complicated to accrue Japan Airlines miles. The best option is to transfer points from Starwood Preferred Guest, which as noted above can potentially be purchased at a good rate. The other caveat is that I’m not positive what the fuel surcharges would be on Australia awards. JAL doesn’t levy fuel surcharges on Emirates awards between the U.S. and the U.A.E., but their chart doesn’t say anything about other Emirates destinations.

Bottom line

I love that Alaska is adding destinations to their award chart. It’s never really made sense to me that the South Pacific was excluded from American and Emirates awards, so I’m glad to see these available (albeit at a very high price).

Hopefully we’ll see further expansion of the charts, but as of now these are only available between North America and the South Pacific.

What do you think of the new Australia/New Zealand awards?

Thanks to a sharp-eyed Ask Lucky reader for noticing the new Emirates redemptions!

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  1. 56K a shower, yeah I’d do that 🙂 seriously thats the looong way to SYD from LAX but think how how Dom and other good booze one could consume, I think I heard they’ve cut the Paradis but if not I’m confident I could get my money back from buying those mile in booze alone – on the way out! The return would be all profit.:)

  2. Also Alaska related, I just noticed they just changed the Mileage Plan rules so that award tickets now qualify for complimentary upgrades!

    “Nonrefundable main cabin awards (W or N fares) will be become [sic] upgradeable on December 5, 2016, regardless of booking date.”

    I only just stumbled onto this fact when I checked my upcoming award flight, and I noticed that I was waitlisted for First Class. So I dug around the website and found the change in terms. This is a really nice improvement; previously, award tickets were not upgradeable.

  3. You have some asterisks beside some of the award prices (such as delta). But never explained what they meant.

  4. @ Adrian — Sorry about that, they’re charts we’ve used in other posts. The asterisks represent partners that cost the same amount for a round-trip as a one-way.

  5. It is also worth calling out that I believe JAL has the same restrictions as Korean about only being able to redeem miles for immediate family, and needing to prove those relationships.

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