I’m a big fan of Alaska miles, because of the free stopovers on one way awards and great mix of partners from multiple alliances.

Alaska Mileage Plan Basics

Before we get into potential redemptions and stopover destinations, let’s go over some basics about the program.

Partners

Alaska has a varied array of oneworld, SkyTeam, and non-allied airline partners:

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Here are the award charts for flying Alaska and its partners.

LATAM and Cathay Pacific award space cannot be found on alaskaair.com. Search with British Airways award search engine instead. You’ll have to call Mileage Plan at 1-800-654-5669 to book them.

Every other partner’s award space can be searched and booked on alaskaair.com.

Routing Rules

  • You cannot combine two partners’ flights on a one way award or in one direction on a roundtrip award. Alaska lets you use one partner plus Alaska flights. This could affect your ability to get all the home on a single Alaska award if you don’t live in a city served by Alaska Airlines.
  • You can book one way awards on most partners, but not Delta and Korean (or I guess, technically, you can book one ways, but you’ll pay the roundtrip price for them).
  • Alaska Airlines awards can have one stopover per one way award or two per roundtrip. There is no limit to the length your stopover, and your stopover could be your home airport which means you can get a free one way award (more on this below).

Searching for Award Space When Including a Stopover

If you want to include a stopover on your Alaska award, you’re going to have a much easier time searching segment-by-segment. For example, take the first award listed below: United States > Tokyo (stopover) > Delhi in Japan Airlines First Class. First search for the segment with less available award space, which is usually the longest segment to a gateway airport and in this case is Los Angeles > Tokyo, and then the other segment.

Once you have found award space for both of your desired segments, search using the “Multi-city” function by ticking the Multi-city box (as well as the “Use Miles” box).

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Going straight to multi-city searching is going to present issues like the ones described in Troubleshooting the Alaska Free One Way Search.

The multi-city search tool will only return results if there is award space for both segments the exact number of days apart as you originally specified. So if you specified a 10 day stopover on your trip, alaskaair.com will only show space with 10 days between it, leaving out a lot of other space that you may be open to if you’re flexible.

Seven Examples of High Value Redemptions With Potential Stopovers

 1. 70k Alaska miles: United States > Tokyo (stopover) > Delhi in Japan Airlines First Class

This just became possible in December so I’m pretty excited about it. You can now fly JAL First Class to Japan, South Korea, and even India (yes, Alaska’s definition of Asia when it comes to redeeming JAL miles includes India!) for 70,000 Alaska miles, or to Southeast Asia for 75,000.

Japan Airlines First Class
Japan Airlines First Class

That is by far the cheapest way to redeem rewards on JAL First Class, and you even get a stopover!

The only buzzkill is that award space isn’t super prevalent so you need flexible travel plans. First Class award space within a week to a month of departure is your best bet.

2. 70k Alaska miles: United States > Hong Kong (stopover) > Bangkok in Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class costs 70,000 Alaska miles one way from the United States to Asia or Africa with a free stopover in Hong Kong, or 80,000 miles one way to Australia or New Zealand, again with a free stopover possible in Hong Kong. (Here’s a cool hike to do in Hong Kong.)

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Cathay Pacific Premium Economy to Asia is only 35,000 Alaska miles one way and Business Class is only 50,000.

Remember that Cathay Pacific award space cannot be found on alaskaair.com. Search ba.com first and then call 1-800-654-5669 to book.

Here is Scott’s review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

3. 55k Alaska miles United States > Sydney (stopover) > Perth in Qantas Business Class

It costs just 55,000 Alaska miles to fly to Australia in Qantas flat bed Business Class. And you can continue your journey to the other side of the continent without changing that price. screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-4-30-12-pm

Qantas premium cabin award space to Australia is known for being sparse, but I see plenty of dates available (granted, for one traveler) in November 2017. 55k dates have Business Class space.screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-4-32-58-pm

4. Two Half Trips for the Price of One, 20k Alaska miles: Barcelona > Philadelphia (stopover at your home) > San Francisco in American Airlines economy October 15 – May 15

Alaska still charges the same number of miles for American Airlines flights that American Airlines charged until its massive March 22, 2016 devaluation. That means you can book the following steals (prices listed one way):

  • 20,000 Alaska miles for seven months out of the year in economy to Europe
  • 20,000 Alaska miles for five months out of the year in economy to Southern South America
  • 25,000 Alaska miles for six months out of the year in economy to Japan
  • 30,000 Alaska miles to Peru or Northern South America in Business Class
  • 50,000 Alaska miles in Business Class to Europe, Japan, or Southern South America
  • 62,500 Alaska miles in Business Class to Australia or New Zealand

A free one way is a separate trip, separated by days or months from your main trip, that uses your home airport as the stopover and adds zero extra miles to the cost of your award. Utilizing one of these cheap Alaska awards on American flights and then tacking on a free one way is a great way to maximize the free stopover feature. Just add a free one way somewhere you plan on traveling to in the future, since you’re not inhibited by the length of your stopover beyond the fact that you can only book flights 11 months in advance.

BCN - PHL could be the return of one trip, you can spend 8 months at home in PHL, then fly to SFO as the first half of another trip for only 20k Alaska miles
BCN – PHL could be the return of one trip, you can spend 8 months at home in PHL, then fly to SFO as the first half of another trip for only 20k Alaska miles

The example above would cost 20k Alaska miles (October 15 – May 15), as would just Barcelona to Philadelphia. So if you can’t fit in a stopover on the trip you’re taking with your Alaska miles, you might as well always add a free one way somewhere you plan on hopping over to in the US since you can change the date of the award for free as long as it’s 60 days before departure. Read this post to learn more about maximizing free one ways on Alaska awards.

One of the best parts about redeeming Alaska miles on American Airlines flights is that you can add an American flight to your hometown airport. Alaska only lets you use one partner plus Alaska flights, so if you’re redeeming on Cathay Pacific, for example, you could only use Alaska flights to get from the Cathay Pacific gateway city to your hometown. But in this case, you can plan your free one way as an American flight since the Barcelona to Philadelphia leg is on American.

5. 55k Alaska miles: United States > Fiji (stopover) > New Zealand in Fiji Airways Business Class

You can fly from the United States to Fiji to New Zealand or Australia for only 55,000 Alaska miles one way in Fiji Airways Business Class with a free stopover in Fiji.

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Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton

I’m saving Alaska miles for this redemption. I’ll definitely take advantage of a stopover in Fiji in one of the directions, and in the other direction I’ll add a free one way to somewhere I plan on going in the United States after that since I’ll get two stopovers for a roundtrip.

6. 50k Alaska miles: United States > Beijing (stopover) > Phuket in Hainan Business Class

Alaska charges just 50,000 miles each way in Hainan flat bed Business Class to anywhere in Asia.

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Hainan Airlines flies from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle to Beijing, Shanghai, and Changsha, China with connections throughout China and Asia. Here are its flights from Beijing, which it serves from Boston, Chicago, San Jose, and Seattle:

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Unfortunately there are fuel surcharges of about $140 per direction.

Full details on booking Hainan flights with Alaska miles.

7. 55k Alaska miles: United States > Reykjavík (stopover) > Brussels in Icelandair Business Class

Icelandair awards start at 22,500 miles one way to Iceland and go up to 55,000 miles one way in Business Class to Europe with a stopover in Iceland. I have never seen a partners’ miles be able to book anything other than Low (Saver) space, so that’s pretty cool.

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Unfortunately there are fuel surcharges of about $100 per direction on these awards.

Full details on booking Icelandair awards with Alaska miles.

How to Get Alaska Miles

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles, and both of the Amex SPG cards (personal and business) come with 25k bonuses.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cards (personal and business) each come with 30,000 Alaska miles after meeting a $1k spending requirement and paying the $75 annual fee.

You can also buy Alaska miles, sometimes with pretty decent discounts.

Bottom Line

We value Alaska miles at 1.75 cents each because of the kind of redemptions exemplified above. They are incredibly versatile as Alaska isn’t constrained to one alliance and Mileage Plan has some of the laxest rules around. It’s one of the only loyalty programs that still allows free stopovers on one way awards.

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