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If you want to fly in style, first class is the way to go. And if you want to pay with miles instead of cash, Alaska Airlines first class offers a comfortable experience you can book using Alaska Mileage Plan miles. Here are the ins and outs of flying in first class on Alaska, from what to expect to how to book.
What to expect flying first class with Alaska Airlines
Luxury seating, plenty of legroom, priority boarding, and free checked bags are just a few of the perks of flying Alaska Airlines first class. Here’s what you can expect when you book a seat.
Bag allowance. When flying Alaska Airlines first class, baggage flies free — two bags to be precise. For all other cabins or classes of service on Alaska, only a carry-on is included.
Boarding. First class passengers are always the first to board, plus the first to deplane once they reach their destination. They also get expedited check-in and express security screening at select airports.
Seats/suites. Alaska Airlines' first class seats offer more legroom than any other U.S. carrier (if you omit airlines that offer lay-flat seats and suites). There are foot rests, tablet holders for your electronic devices, cupholders and seats with up to a 41-inch pitch, meaning you can recline in comfort. First class on Alaska even gets its own dedicated flight attendant.
Lounges. Lounge access is included in any Alaska Airlines first class fare, whether purchased with cash or miles (but not as an upgraded ticket). Alaska lounges are currently located in Seattle; San Francisco; Los Angeles; New York-JFK; Portland, Oregon; and Anchorage, Alaska. Plus, there are plenty of partner lounges, like American Airlines Admirals Club and 650 Oneworld priority lounges. Alaska lounges offer food and beverages (including cocktails), fast Wi-Fi, comfy seats for relaxing and concierge services.
Earn more miles. When you book a first class ticket with Alaska, you’ll also earn 75% more Mileage Plan bonus miles than with the purchase of an economy class ticket.
Food and beverages. First class meals are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and include vegetarian options plus alcohol. Meals are only available on flights longer than 670 miles, and you can preorder your meal online or via the Alaska mobile app.
» Learn more: The beginner's guide to flying first class
How to book a first class ticket with Alaska Airlines
It’s easy to book an Alaska Airlines first class ticket with your Mileage Plan miles. Just head to Alaska’s website, type in your travel dates and locations, select “Use miles” and hit “Find flights.” You can view an award calendar or daily schedules to find the award flight you want, including first class flights.
Once you’ve selected your preferred flights, make sure you’re logged into your Mileage Plan account. Then, check out, book with your miles and pay the applicable taxes and fees.
What if you have to cancel or change your flight? No problem. Alaska allows you to change your first class itinerary for no additional fee. The same is true for main cabin, but not Saver (basic economy) fares.
Alaska Airlines first class upgrades are available for as few as 15,000 miles if you originally purchased a main cabin fare. This availability isn't an option on all Alaska flights. If an upgrade is available for your flight booking, you can call reservations to request the upgrade or choose to upgrade at the airport or during check-in within 24 hours of your flight.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
Ways to get a great value out of Alaska's first class
Here’s how to get the most out of every first class award booking with Alaska:
1. Book with miles
NerdWallet values first class Alaska Airline miles at 1.1 cents.
One Alaska first class sweet spot could be for flights between 1,401-2,100 miles in distance. These flights start at 25,000 miles each way, the same as trips between 701-1,400 miles, so you’re potentially covering more distance for the same number of miles.
But those flights can also require up to 70,000 miles depending on availability and route popularity. Check award travel miles against the cash price to find out if booking with miles is a good deal. A general rule of thumb is that if the value-per-mile of a redemption is above 1.1 cents, it's a good deal. If it's below it, you might consider saving your miles for a future redemption.
2. Book international travel on partner airlines
Because Alaska Airlines is a Oneworld alliance partner, you can use Mileage Plan miles to book award travel on partner airlines.
» Learn more: Don't just redeem miles — redeem them wisely
3. Take advantage of lounges
If you’re flying first class, you might as well enjoy all the perks, including kicking back in an Alaska or partner lounge if there’s one available. You can use it to grab breakfast before your flight, lunch during a connection, or dinner and drinks before you leave the airport.
4. Travel off peak to save miles
If you travel during off-peak times, you may be able to score a better deal on award flights. Alaska mainly bases its award chart on distance traveled, but availability and peak seasons play a part in award pricing, too.
You can browse the Alaska award chart and start planning future redemptions.
The bottom line
Alaska Airlines may not offer the most luxurious first class experience, but its premium cabin is comfortable, easy to book with miles and full of benefits like lounge access and complimentary in-flight meals. Plus, Mileage Plan members can use miles to book more posh first class seats with many international partner airlines.
Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card