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The Alaska Mileage Plan is one of my favourite frequent flyer programs. Not only can you buy Alaska miles at great rates on a regular basis, but there are plenty of hidden treasures when it comes to redeeming First and Business Class flights on Alaska‘s partner airlines.

In this blog post, we will uncover the hidden treasures in The Alaska Mileage Plan to show you why you should buy Alaska Miles. I can’t promise that this will be a short post, but I am sure you will know what to do if you want to find out how to fly:

  • Qantas First Class between North America to Australia for ~ USD 1,400
  • Cathay Pacific Business Class between North America to Asia for ~ USD 1,000 and many more!

Before we begin the learning journey, please be aware that this post will be structured into five sections:

Part 1: How to earn miles through Alaska Mileage Plan?
Part 2: Best use of Alaska Miles.
Part 3: How to book partner airlines award tickets on Alaska Mileage Plan?
Part 4: Use Alaska’s free stopover to add an additional holiday destination.
Part 5: Final ground rules to keep in mind.

Part 1: How to earn miles through The Alaska Mileage Plan?

a) Buying Miles

The Alaska Mileage Plan offers miles promotions on a regular basis. While you can earn Alaska miles from credit cards and by flying with Alaska Airlines or partner airlines, you can also purchase Alaska miles at great prices.

As shown in the table below, 1.97 cents per mile reflects the cheapest price you could have purchased Alaska Miles in the past one year. Since this price has occurred 4 out 8 times in the past year (which implies a high probability of re-occurrence) I will use 1.97 cents per mile for all calculation in this post.

Past promotionsUS cents per mileEvaluation
June 2019 – 30% discount2.07 centsMiddle
April to May 2019 – 50% bonus1.97 centsCheapest
March 2019 – 40% bonus2.11 centsHighest
Jan to Feb 2019 – 40% bonus2.11 centsHighest
Nov to Dec 2018 – 50% bonus1.97 centsCheapest
Oct 2018 – 40% bonus sales2.11 centsHighest
Aug to Oct 2018 – 50% bonus1.97 centsCheapest
May to July 2018 – 40% bonus1.97 centsCheapest

We typically value Alaska miles at 1.8 cents per mile. To ensure that you redeem your miles at great value, you should check the revenue fare to the number of miles you can use for redemption. If that value is less than 1.8 cents per mile, pay for the revenue ticket. If it is more than 1.8 cents, use your miles to redeem for your ticket.

You can purchase Alaska Miles here directly.

b) Flying On Alaska Airlines

Flying on Alaska is the most typical way to earn miles. Alaska is one of the few airlines that still awards 100% base miles no matter which level of airfare you select, including saver airfare. Base miles are determined by the distance you fly. You can check out their earning chart below. The amazing thing is the bonus that you can earn for flying in premium cabins and with partner airlines. In some instances, it is possible to earn up to 450% redeemable miles.

c) Credit Cards

The Alaska Mileage Plan isn’t the easiest program to earn miles through credit cards. There are only 2 credit cards that offer a decent return from your spending.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card offers a large welcome offer although it comes with a $75 annual fee. The card comes with a yearly $99 companion ticket and you earn 1x per dollar spent on anything. Bonus categories exist for spending on Alaska Airlines website and dining at more than 11,000 restaurant options.

The other great way to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles is to use one of the Marriott credit cards. Marriott currently offers 4 different types of credit cards. The cards they offer range from no-fee to a $450 annual fee. I recommend taking a look at the chart below to figure out which card is right for you. Its important to remember that all the Chase cards come with 5/24 restrictions and there are some strict eligibility requirements if you have had a previous product. It’s important to remember that when transferring Marriott Bonvoy Points, for every 60,000 you transfer, you earn a 5,000 point bonus which will leave you with 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles instead of the usual 20,000 points as their transfer ratio is 3:1.

Credit Card NameMarriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® CardMarriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Credit Card IssuerChaseChaseAmerican ExpressAmerican Express
Annual Fee$0$95$125$450
Current Welcome Offer
*as of 7/1/2019
50,000 Points after spending $2,000 in first 3 months75,000 Points after spending $3,000 in first 3 months75,000 Points after spending $3,000 in first 3 months75,000 Points after spending $3,000 in first 3 months
Points Per $ At Marriott3x6x6x6x
Bonus Points Per $ Categories2x on anything coded Travel4x at Restaurants, Gas Stations, and Mobile Phone Service3x at Restaurants and on Airfrare Purchased Directly w/ Airline
Points Per $ On Everything Else1x2x2x2x
Free NightNoYes, Up to 35,000 pointsYes, Up to 35,000 pointsYes, Up to 50,000 points
Additional Free NightNoNoYes (After spending $60,000 Per Calendar Year)No
Complimentary StatusSilver (15 Elite Credit Nights)Silver (15 Elite Credit Nights)Silver (15 Elite Credit Nights)Gold (15 Elite Credit Nights)
Earnable Bonus StatusNoGold Status (After Spending $35,000 Per Calendar Year)Gold Status (After Spending $35,000 Per Calendar Year)Platinum Status (After Spending $75,000 Per Calendar Year)
Marriott Hotel CreditNoNoNo$300 Per Calendar Year
Priority PassNoNoNoYes
Global Entry / TSA Pre Check WaiverNoNoNoYes

2) Best use of Alaska Miles

Alaska Miles can be used to redeem flights on the following airlines stated in the table below.

Aer LingusAmerican AirlinesBritish AirwaysCathay Pacific
CondorEmiratesFiji AirwaysFinnair
Hainan Airlines IcelandairJapan AirlinesKorean Air
Latam AirlinesPenAirQantasRavn Alaska

The Alaska Mileage Plan has different redemption rates for each airline. As this post is mainly focused on the best use of Alaska Miles. I will only highlight certain routes and airlines (in bold) which I think you should use your Alaska Miles on.

a) Redeem Alaska Miles on Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines First Class
Travelling between (one way):Business ClassCost* (USD)First ClassCost* (USD)
North America – Asia (exclude SEA)60k miles1194.5070k miles1391.50
North America – South East Asia65k miles129375k miles1490
Within Asia25k miles50530k miles603.50

Cost* = 1.97 US cents * miles required + 12.50 USD booking fee
Final cost is subjected to tax based on routings.

You can purchase Alaska Miles here directly.

b) Redeem Alaska Miles on Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific First Class
Cathay Pacific First Class
Travelling between (one way):Business ClassCost* (USD)First ClassCost* (USD)
North America- Asia50k miles997.5070k miles1391.50
North America – Africa/India/Middle East62.5k miles1243.7570k miles1391.50
North America – Australia/New Zealand60k miles1194.5080k miles1588.50
Travelling between (one way):Business ClassCost* (USD)First ClassCost* (USD)
Within Asia22.5k miles445.7527.5k miles554.25
Hong Kong – Africa/Europe42.5k miles849.7570k miles1391.50
Hong Kong – Australia/New Zealand30k miles603.5045k miles889

Cost* = 1.97 US cents * miles required + 12.50 USD booking fee
Final cost is subjected to i) tax based on routings and ii) 15 USD service fee.

You can purchase Alaska Miles here directly.

Key things to note when redeeming Cathay Pacific tickets with Alaska Mileage Plan:

  1. Tickets can only be redeemed by calling Alaska Airlines reservations team. A $15 US service fee will be charged (waived for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members)
  2. Since Cathay Pacific tickets can’t be redeemed online via the Alaska Mileage Plan, you can use the online search engine on British Airways‘ Executive Club as a proxy to find the availability of the award tickets. It is always good to do your homework to check on the availability before you call the reservations team.

c) Redeem Alaska Miles on Qantas

Qantas Business Class
Travelling between (one way):Business ClassCost* (USD)First ClassCost* (USD)
Australia/New Zealand to Canada/US/Mexico55k miles109670k miles1391.50

Cost* = 1.97 US cents * miles required + 12.50 USD booking fee
Final cost is subjected to tax based on routings.

You can purchase Alaska Miles here directly.

d) Redeem Alaska Miles on Hainan Airlines

Hainan Airlines Business Class
Travelling between (one way):Business ClassCost* (USD)
North America/Mexico – Asia50k miles997.50

Cost* = 1.97 US cents * miles required + 12.50 USD booking fee
Final cost is subjected to tax and fuel surcharge based on routings.

You can purchase Alaska Miles here directly.

e) Redeem Alaska Miles on Finnair

Finnair Business Class
Travelling between (one way):Business ClassCost* (USD)
Europe – Asia60k miles1194.50
Europe – India/South Asia45k miles899

Cost* = 1.97 US cents * miles required + 12.50 USD booking fee
Final cost is subjected to tax based on routings.

You can purchase Alaska Miles here directly.

f) Redeem Alaska Miles on Korean Air

Korean Air Business CLass
Travelling between (one way):Business ClassCost* (USD)
North America – North Asia52.5k miles1046.75
North America – South East Asia 60k miles1194.50
Korea – South East Asia30k miles603.50

Cost* = 1.97 US cents * miles required + 12.50 USD booking fee
Final cost is subjected to tax based on routings.

You can purchase Alaska Miles here directly.

Key things to note when redeeming Korean Air tickets with Alaska Mileage Plan:

  • At the Alaska Airlines website, the award chart reflects round trip redemption rates. One way redemption will be charged at round trip rates.
Alaska Award Chart for Korean Air tickets – Above rates for round trip (Do not be misled)

g) Redeem Alaska Miles on LATAM

LATAM Business Class on A350 and B787
Travelling between (one way):Business ClassCost* (USD)
US – South America45k miles899

Cost* = 1.97 US cents * miles required + 12.50 USD booking fee
Final cost is subjected to tax based on routings.

You can purchase Alaska Miles here directly.

To Summarise All of The Tables Above

Traveling to/from North and South America:

Traveling to/from Asia (other than North and South America):

Traveling to/from Europe:

Traveling to/from Australia and New Zealand

Part 3: How to Book Partner Airlines Award Tickets on The Alaska Mileage Plan?

Click on this link to use your Alaska miles to redeem your tickets online.

Take note that Cathay Pacific tickets can’t be redeemed online via the Alaska Mileage Plan. Before calling the reservations team, you can use the online search engine on British Airways’ Executive Club as a proxy on the availability of the award tickets. It is always good to do your homework before you call the reservations team.

Part 4: Use Alaska’s Free Stopover to add an Additional Holiday Destination

What is a stopover? 
A stopover allows you to stay for more than 24 hours at your transit destination, or for as long as you want.

An example?
Suppose that you have a one way ticket from Singapore to New York via Hong Kong, you can do a stopover in Hong Kong for as long as you want.

How to add a stopover in your ticket?
The free stopover can be done on a one-way ticket. If you need to book a round trip ticket, simply book two separate one-way tickets. When you make your booking, ensure that u select “Multi-city” instead of “one way”

Select “Multi-city” when you want to do a free stopover

Open Jaw Ticket: When doing a stopover, you need not fly off from the same airport/city. Instead of Singapore – Tokyo – Incheon, you can do Singapore – Tokyo, Osaka – Incheon.

Part 5: Final Ground Rules to Keep in Mind

1)Award ticket change and cancellation fees
Alaska Mileage Plan charges USD 125 for ticket change and cancellation. Cancellation can be done within 24 hours of booking (but not after departure) This fee can be waived for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members

2)For travel within Asia, booking must be made more than 72 hours before departure.

3)Each Alaska Mileage Plan account can only purchase up to 150k miles per year
This is not applicable for elite Mileage Plan members (MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K) Nevertheless, so long as you are within the limit, you can buy Alaska miles multiple times within a year.

4)You need to open an Alaska Mileage Plan account for at least 10 days before you can buy Alaska Miles.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Comment Disclaimer: The responses in each article are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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