This is the eleventh post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.
Why Collect Alaska Airlines Miles?
Alaska Airlines miles are great for booking Emirates First Class and Cathay Pacific First Class. These are two ultra-luxury cabins, and Emirates First Class is not part of any airline alliance. Check out my trip report! (Here’s how to book Emirates First Class.)
Collecting Alaska Airlines miles is easy. Both the personal and business cards from Bank of America are churnable, meaning you can get the same bonus over and over.
Alaska Airlines partners with 14 airlines from SkyTeam, oneworld, and outside the three alliances.
- What airlines can you fly with Alaska Airlines miles?
- What are the routing rules for Alaska Airlines awards?
- What are the special features of the Mileage Plan program?
- How can you book an Alaska Airlines award?
Alaska Airlines miles are region-to-region based. (The Five Types of Miles)
A region-to-region chart means that instead of having to calculate the number of miles for an award from your origin city to your destination city, say Atlanta to Rome, you merely figure out how many miles you need for an award from your origin region to your destination region, in this case North America to Europe.
Alaska Airlines has a different chart for every partner to every region. Here are the charts to Europe, and you can choose different regions along the left hand side of the page.
Alaska Airlines is not a member of any of the three alliances. It has partners from oneworld, SkyTeam, and other non-allied airlines.
Unfortunately you cannot freely combine partners onto a single ticket.
You can fly one partner on an award, or you can fly one partner plus Alaska Airlines. On a roundtrip, each direction can have a different partner.
As an example, you can combine Alaska and Cathay Pacific flights on a one way award, and you can fly Cathay Pacific one way and Emirates for the return on a roundtrip award. However you cannot combine American Airlines and LAN–or any other two partners’–flights on a single one way award.
You cannot combine two partners’ flights on a one way award or in one direction on a roundtrip award.
Some Alaska Airlines partners allow one way awards, and some do not. Each type of partner is clearly indicated on the award charts at alaskaair.com.
Alaska Airlines awards can have one stopover per one way award or two per roundtrip.
There are three main special features of the Alaska Airlines program:
1. You cannot freely mix partner flights on an award. All the other US-based airlines allow you to mix as many partners on a single award as you’d like. Alaska lets you use one partner plus Alaska flights.
2. You can’t start your award anywhere you’d like. Most airlines have a price on their chart for any possible origin and destination region, but Alaska generally only lets you start or finish awards in the United States with some exceptions noted on the award charts.
Plus there’s no way to use Alaska miles to get to certain destinations with certain partners, like Australia with Emirates.
3. Alaska has the most diverse collection of partners. You are not constrained by Alaska’s alliance because it is not in one.
Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges
Alaska Airlines awards require you to pay the government taxes associated with the itinerary.
These start at $5.60 each direction for domestic awards and go up to $300 if you fly to roundtrip to the United Kingdom in Business Class. Generally international awards have roundtrip taxes of $50 to $150.
Award Processing Fee: Alaska Airlines charges a non-refundable $12.50 per one way partner award just to book the award.
Phone Fee: Alaska Airlines charges a non-refundable $15 fee per ticket for awards booked over the phone.
Changes/Cancellation: There is a $125 fee per person to change or cancel an Alaska Airlines award within 60 days of departure and no fee if more than 60 days before departure.
Alaska Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways flights. These can be up to $500 per flight, so avoid British Airways flights.
How to Book Alaska Airlines Awards
All Alaska Airlines partners are bookable at alaskaair.com except LAN and Cathay Pacific.
LAN and Cathay Pacific flights can be booked by calling 1-800-654-5669.
If you can’t seem to find the award you want for your dream trip, you can hire my Award Booking Service to search and book your Alaska Airlines awards. We have the expertise to search every Alaska partner to maximize convenience and luxury while minimizing out-of-pocket cost.
Alaska Airlines miles are fantastic to fly any of Alaska’s 14 partners. I’m specifically saving my Alaska Airlines miles to book Cathay Pacific and Emirates First Class.
Alaska Airlines miles are easy to earn from churnable sign up bonuses on their personal and business credit cards from Bank of America.
Any questions? What did I leave out?