Alaska Secretly Decreased Award Prices on Some American Flights

Alaska quietly lowered award rates on select domestic routes when redeemed through American.
May 11, 2022

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Good news, points and miles collectors: You now need fewer Alaska miles for some American Airlines award flights than before. Without notice, Alaska Airlines recently decreased the award rates on short domestic American Airlines award flights.

Currently, you can book American Airlines award flights for as few as 7,500 miles — up to a 40% decrease from the previous rates. We'll show you the details of these changes so you can take advantage of new lower award pricing when using Alaska miles for American flights.

Alaska Mileage Plan award chart for American Airlines flights

Alaska Mileage Plan is unique among U.S. airlines in publishing a different award chart for each of its 23 partners. That means that you may find different award prices for the same route, depending on which partner airline you fly.

For a single flight in October, award prices range from 25,000 to 45,000, and fees can range from $25 to upwards of $250. Beyond slightly different flight paths and number of stops, a key differentiating factor is the partner airline flown.

The current Alaska Mileage Plan award chart for American Airlines flights is as follows:

Alaska award rates when redeemed on American.

From the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada to…

Economy

Business/First class

First class

Continental U.S., Alaska and Canada

Starting at 12,500 miles.

Starting at 25,000 miles.

N/A.

Caribbean, Mexico or Central America

17,500 miles.

27,500 miles.

52,500 miles.

Hawaii

22,500 miles.

40,000 miles.

N/A.

South America Zone 1

20,000 miles.

30,000 miles.

55,000 miles.

South America Zone 2

30,000 miles.

57,500 miles.

85,000 miles.

Europe

Starting at 22,500 miles.

57,500 miles.

85,000 miles.

Asia Zone 1

32,500 miles.

60,000 miles.

80,000 miles.

Asia Zone 2

35,000 miles.

70,000 miles.

110,000 miles.

Australia or New Zealand

40,000 miles.

80,000 miles.

110,000 miles.

However, we've recently noticed that Alaska has strayed from these published award prices for certain domestic American Airlines flights. Rather than "starting at 12,500 miles," short-haul American Airlines award flights are now priced as low as 7,500 miles.

New decreased Alaska award rates on American flights

In April 2022 — and without notice from the airline — Alaska Mileage Plan started pricing certain American Airlines award flights below award-chart prices. So far, these changes have been all good news. Rates have decreased on some flights, but we haven't found any examples where award rates are higher than before.

We are finding these lower prices only on short-haul, nonstop economy award flights. First class awards are still priced at 25,000 Alaska miles each way.

Here are some of the routes where you can find these cheaper rates.

7,500-mile awards on American Airlines

Ultra-short-haul flights on American Airlines are currently priced at just 7,500 Alaska miles each way. As these new award rates aren't published, we don't know the exact distance cutoff. But from searching various routes, we've found that this pricing seems to apply to only nonstop flights under 400 miles in distance.

For example, the 396-mile route from Dallas-Fort Worth to Laredo currently costs 7,500 Alaska miles each way.

Other routes under 400 miles in distance include some of the busiest routes in North America:

  • Los Angeles to San Francisco.

  • Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

  • New York-LaGuardia to Boston.

  • New York-LaGuardia to Toronto.

  • Seattle to Portland.

Just keep in mind that Alaska prices its award flights as low as 5,000 miles each way on some of these routes. For example, you'll likely want to book an award from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on Alaska instead of American Airlines.

10,000-mile awards on American Airlines

Nonstop American Airlines flights between 400 and 700 miles in distance currently cost 10,000 Alaska miles each way.

For example, the 402-mile route from Chicago-O'Hare to Kansas City barely misses the 400-mile cutoff for the 7,500-mile award pricing. Still, the current 10,000-mile award rate is cheaper than what you previously had to pay for an award flight on this route.

On the upper end of the distance band, we're seeing the same 10,000-mile award pricing on the 660-mile route from New York-LaGuardia to Indianapolis. And you can fly the 692-mile route from Chicago-O'Hare to Kansas City for 10,000 Alaska miles.

Nerdy tip: This reduced pricing applies to only nonstop award flights. If you fly a route under 700 miles that requires a connection, you'll pay the standard award price of 12,500 miles.

12,500-mile awards on American Airlines

American Airlines award flights over 700 miles are still at the award chart price of 12,500 Mileage Plan miles. For example, the 719-mile route from Chicago-O'Hare to Newark still costs 12,500 Alaska miles each way. Ditto for the 762-mile route from New York-LaGuardia to Atlanta.

The good news is that we aren't currently finding any American Airlines awards pricing at a higher rate than 12,500 miles each way. That means you can fly from Seattle to Miami — a distance of over 2,700 miles — for 12,500 Alaska miles. That's particularly useful, as Alaska can often charge a higher rate for awards on its own flights on these longer routes.

How to get Alaska Mileage Plan miles

This award pricing change may have you taking a closer look at Alaska Mileage Plan. If so, here are some of the ways to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles.

Besides flying on Alaska and its partners, the easiest way to earn Mileage Plan miles is through the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. New cardholders can earn a welcome bonus: Get a $100 statement credit, 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Plus, you'll earn 3x Alaska Mileage Plan miles per dollar spent on Alaska flights and 1x miles on all other purchases.

Alaska Mileage Plan isn't a transfer partner of any major bank points programs (e.g., American Express, Chase, Citi). However, Alaska is a transfer partner of a few hotel loyalty programs. The best of these options is transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska.

Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to Alaska Mileage Plan at a 3:1 ratio. Plus, you'll get a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring at least 60,000 Bonvoy points. That means you'll end up with a total of 25,000 Alaska miles for every 60,000 points transferred. That's enough to book up to three one-way award flights on American Airlines using this new lower award pricing.

Other ways to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles include shopping through the Mileage Plus shopping portal, dining through the Mileage Plan Dining program, booking hotels and car rentals through Alaska's travel partners and even buying Mileage Plan miles directly.

If you're looking to book an American flight with Alaska miles

Alaska Airlines decreased the award rates for short, nonstop American Airlines flights. You can now find awards costing as few as 7,500 miles each way. That's 40% fewer miles than the previous and published 12,500-mile award pricing.

These changes came without any notice from the airline, and the published award chart still shows that American Airlines domestic award flights cost at least 12,500 miles. That means these lower prices could vanish just as quickly as they appeared. If you're looking to save on an American Airlines award flight, make sure to take advantage of this current lower pricing.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.


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