The Guide to Alaska Airlines First Class

Alaska offers a respectable first class fare, but turn to the airline's partners for a truly luxe experience.
Alisha McDarris
By Alisha McDarris 
Updated

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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 Alaska Airlines first class, 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.

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.

🤓Nerdy Tip

In order to book award flights on partner airlines Cathay Pacific and LATAM Airlines, you’ll have to call Alaska reservations. You can’t book those flights online.

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.

Alaska Airlines business class vs. first class

Alaska Airlines doesn't offer a business class experience for passengers. Instead, travelers can choose between the following fare classes:

  • First class.

  • Premium class.

  • Main cabin.

  • Saver fare (basic economy).

Let's look closer instead at Alaska Airlines premium class versus first class.

First class flyers get added perks like complimentary food and drinks, a dedicated flight attendant, access to lounges while on the ground and two free checked bags.

First class seats also have a pitch of up to 41 inches, whereas seats in the premium class have offer 35-36 inches.

Premium class flyers join first class ticket holders with access to perks like free beer, wine, and cocktails, extra legroom (compared to main cabin), seat selection, a free carry on, and the ability to board and deplane early.

Alaska and Oneworld lounge access

All first class tickets purchased with miles or cash will grant you access to the Alaska Airlines lounges at airports. If you were upgraded to first class, however, you will not be given access.

There are currently eight lounges, all of them in West Coast airports with the exception of the one at NY-JFK. Alaska is currently remodeling its Seattle and Portland lounges and expects the expansions to be completed in the summer of 2022. If you are traveling through Seattle, I’d recommend stopping by either the lounge at Concourse C or the one in the North Satellite, which are new, modern and spacious.

Since Alaska is now part of Oneworld, travelers in Alaska’s first class cabin have access to more than 620 Oneworld lounges worldwide.

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:

Book with miles

NerdWallet values Alaska Airline miles at 1.4 cents each.

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 1.4 cents, it's a good deal. If it's below it, you might consider saving your miles for a future redemption.

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.

Cathay Pacific and Qantas Airlines both offer expensive first class services that may have exceptional mile redemption values if booked using an Alaska award flight.

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.

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.

How to get more Alaska miles

Transfer from Marriott

Unfortunately, Alaska is not a transfer partner of Chase, AmEx, Citi or Capital One. However, you can transfer miles from Marriott Bonvoy to Alaska at a 3:1 ratio. When you transfer 60,000 Bonvoy points, you will be given a 5,000 mile bonus courtesy of Marriott. That means transferring 60,000 points will get you 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles.

Sign up for a co-branded credit card

You can earn Alaska miles by signing up for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card or the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card or completing many other mileage earning activities.

How the cards compare
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Annual fee

$95.

$70 for the company and $25 per card.

Welcome offer

Get 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Get 50,000 bonus miles, $100 statement credit and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) after you make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Earning rates

• 3 miles per $1 on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 on eligible gas, EV charging, cable, streaming services and local transit (including ride share) purchases.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 3 miles per $1 on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 on eligible gas, EV charging, shipping and local transit (including ride share) purchases.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

Still not sure?

Buy Alaska Miles

Purchasing Alaska miles should be your last resort. The sticker price for 60,000 miles is $1,773.75. As usual, I would never recommend buying miles speculatively, as it is not a good value, but it is an option if you need to top off your account to have enough miles for that redemption you have in mind.

Alaska runs sales rather frequently, but if you need miles at any time, you can purchase up to 150,000 miles every calendar year. Alaska Mileage Plan elite members (MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K) are not subject to this limitation.

For reference, if you were to buy 15,000 miles to redeem for the cheapest first class ticket that can be redeemed, it would cost you $443.44. In my previous example of a flight between Seattle and Salt Lake City, buying that ticket in first class outright would cost you $209. This goes to show that just because you have the miles, it doesn’t mean it’s always a good value to redeem them when you consider the cost of actually earning — or buying — the miles.

Alaska Airlines first class, recapped

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.

Frequently asked questions

Alaska first class tickets include larger seats (but not lie-flat), which are typical for domestic first class. Passengers also get free food and drinks, two free checked bags and access to the Alaska or Oneworld lounges. Tickets that have been upgraded from economy to first class are not eligible for free bags or lounge access.

Yes, alcoholic and soft drinks are complimentary in the Alaska first class cabin.

Upgrades start at $24, but vary by flight and availability. Most upgrades will cost far more, in line with the fare difference between a first class and economy ticket.

No, the Companion Fare can only be used for main cabin tickets; however, companion fare tickets are eligible for free and paid upgrades.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.


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