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Redeeming Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles is very easy thanks to a straight forward booking engine. Since Virgin America has merged with Alaska Airlines, you can now find award availability for both on the Alaska Airlines website as well as availability for most other partners. To book awards with Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, and other partner airlines, simply check the “use miles” box and go! This easy process, extensive award network, and generous award booking rules, make Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan a great rewards program for free travel.
Alaska Airlines Redemption Options
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan offers three main ways to redeem miles: book award flights with Alaska Airlines/Virgin America or other partner airlines, reduce flight costs with money and miles, and upgrade airfare with miles.
Mileage Plan Miles do not have a fixed value so make sure to search for the best redemption options. The value can vary significantly between Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, and other partners. I’ve redeemed Mileage Plan miles for as high as 2.6 cents per mile, but they’re typically worth between 1.5 and 2 cents per mile.
Alaska Airlines partners include Air France (ending 4/30/2018), American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Condor, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Finnair, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, Japan Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, LATAM Airlines, Pen Air, Qantas, Ravn, and Singapore Airlines. All of these can be booked through the Alaska Airlines website except for Cathay Pacific and LATAM Airlines which requires a phone call to the Mileage Plan program at 1-800-252-7522 to book.
Redeeming Mileage Plan Miles for Airfare with Alaska
Domestic U.S. award flights and flights to Canada with Alaska Airlines or Virgin America range from just 5,000 miles up to 20,000 miles each way in economy for non-refundable tickets. Alaska publishes an interactive award chart here. This chart makes it very easy to find out how many miles you need for any given destination.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the few programs that allows a free stopover each way on awards. Whereas a program like British Airways Executive Club would charge you Avios based on the distance for each leg of your flight, Alaska does not. This can significantly increase the value of your miles if you are able to combine two trips into one. To find awards, simply use the multi-city tool on the Alaska Airlines website. Keep in mind that these stopovers typically must occur in a hub city.
Redeeming Mileage Plan Miles for Airfare with Partner Airlines
The interactive Alaska Airlines award chart also provides the miles needed for partner bookings based on the geographic region of your departure and arrival. The number of miles each way varies between partners and destination. This award chart is your best source for up to date information on the number of miles required for award bookings.
One-way stopovers are also allowed with partner awards. However, you cannot combine two partner airlines for a stopover. You can only combine an Alaska Airlines flight with a partner flight.
Finding Award Availability for Partner Airlines
Alaska Airlines displays availability for partner airlines on its website except for Cathay Pacific and LATAM. You can use the British Airways booking engine to search for availability on those airlines and then call Alaska Airlines at 1-800-252-7522 to book your flight.
Redeeming Mileage Plan Miles for Discounted Airfare with Money & Miles
You can also use Mileage Plan Miles to reduce the cost of your non-award flights. 10,000 miles will reduce the cost of your flight by up to $100 or 50% and 20,000 miles will reduce the cost of your flight by up to $200 or 50%. When using money & miles, you earn 100% of the miles flown whereas you earn 0 miles for award flights. This can be a good option when there are no award flights available, but only Alaska Airlines/Virgin America flights are eligible. However, if you are able to maximize the discount of $100 or $200, your miles are only worth 1 cent when redeemed this way.
Redeeming Mileage Plan Miles for Upgrades
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan allows you to use miles to upgrade from economy to first class. Upgrades cost 15,000 miles each way. However, you cannot upgrade the lowest economy fares. You must book a refundable economy ticket to be eligible. To view eligible flights, click upgrade type → mileage when searching for flights.
Other Mileage Plan Tips and Tricks
Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare
The Alaska Airlines Visa includes a yearly companion fare where your companion pays $99 plus taxes and fees to fly with you for one round-trip flight. This is only valid for Alaska Airlines and Virgin America flights. Currently, Alaska Airlines is offering a companion fare for just taxes and fees when you sign up for their credit card. Each year you keep the card, you get another $99 companion fare. This can completely offset the $75 annual fee depending on how you redeem it.
The companion fare can only be used for economy seats booked with cash. However, you can use miles to upgrade if you book refundable economy tickets. You can also book a multi-city itinerary to maximize the value of the companion fare. The companion fare is valid for one year, but you can book the flight at the end of the published scheduled so you have almost two years to use it.
Award Changes and Booking Fees
Alaska Airlines has a very generous policy when it comes to award changes. Changes and cancellations made more than 60 days in advance are free. That’s practically unheard of. (Although, Southwest Rapid Rewards also offers free cancellations/changes.) Changes and cancellations made less than 60 days in advance cost $125. For same day changes, the fee is $25. When booking partner awards, a $12.50 booking fee applies each way. There is also a $15 fee for booking over the phone.
Award flights on British Airways, Icelandair, and Hainan Airlines are subject to fuel surcharges even when booked with Mileage Plan Miles. British Airways fuel surcharges are notoriously high so you might find yourself putting down a lot of cash for those awards. You’re better off searching for award flights with different partners.
Mixed Cabin Itineraries
Beware of mixed cabin itineraries when booking award flights. These are designated with a recliner icon on the booking matrix. If you book one of these flights, you will pay for a first class award, but be seated in economy for one or more of your flights.
Final Thoughts on Redeeming Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a very user-friendly, straight forward airline rewards program. And with so many partner airlines, you can use miles to fly just about anywhere! The Alaska Airlines Visa is the easiest way to earn more miles. However, you can also transfer miles from Starwood Preferred Guest including those earned with the SPG Amex. (Remember, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 bonus Starpoints transferred.) Between their easy reward system and friendly flight attendants, it’s no wonder Alaska Airlines is my favorite airline.