How to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles

Rebecca LakeNovember 19, 2020
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On a similar note...

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Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan is one of the best travel loyalty programs around, with plenty of ways to earn miles. But what about when it comes to redeeming them? We currently value Mileage Plan miles at 1 cent each.

If you've banked a significant number of Alaska miles, then it pays to know how to make the most of them. Here's how to redeem miles for maximum value:

Book an award trip with Alaska or its travel partners

The first and most obvious choice for squeezing value out of your Alaska miles is redeeming them for flights. Award flights start at just 5,000 miles for a one-way ticket.

Here's the full list of airlines Alaska partners with:

  • Aer Lingus.

  • American Airlines.

  • British Airways.

  • Cathay Pacific.

  • Condor.

  • El Al.

  • Emirates.

  • Fiji Airways.

  • Finnair.

  • Hainan Airlines.

  • Icelandair.

  • Japan Airlines.

  • Korean Air.

  • LATAM Airlines.

  • PenAir.

  • Qantas.

  • Ravn Alaska.

  • Singapore Airlines.

The key to stretching your miles is to get familiar with the award charts to see the airlines with flights to the destinations you want to visit. From there, you can compare which one will offer the most value.

Say, for example, that you want to book an award flight with Alaska miles from New York City to Hawaii. You have two options: Book with Alaska Airlines or American Airlines.

Booking a main cabin fare with Alaska Airlines requires a minimum of 15,000 miles. Booking with American requires 22,500 miles.

You can also save on flights with Alaska Airlines booked within the U.S., depending on the distance:

Hop (distances less than 700 miles)

  • Main cabin: 5,000 - 30,000 miles.

  • First class: 15,000 - 40,000 miles.

Skip (distances of 701 - 1,400 miles)

  • Main cabin: 7,500 - 30,000 miles.

  • First class: 25,000 - 60,000 miles.

Jump (distances of 1,401 - 2,100 miles)

  • Main cabin: 10,000 - 40,000 miles.

  • First class: 25,000 - 60,000 miles.

Leap (distances of over 2,101 miles)

  • Main cabin: 12,500 - 50,000 miles.

  • First class: 30,000 - 70,000 miles.

By comparison, if you were to book a domestic flight with American Airlines or Ravn Alaska, you would need 12,500 or 7,500 award miles, respectively, for economy class.

Book with money and miles

If you don't have enough miles to cover your flight, you can also use a combination of money and miles.

Money & Miles awards are good for up to a 50% discount on coach and first-class fares. You just can't use them along with Saver fares; maximum discount limits apply.

Here's a snapshot of how you can apply Money & Miles awards:

Award type

One way

Round trip

50% discount up to $100

10,000 miles

10,000 miles

50% discount up to $200

20,000 miles

20,000 miles

Nerd tip: You still earn 100% of miles flown when using Money & Miles awards.

Use miles to book hotels

Another way to put Alaska miles to work is by booking hotels. You can redeem miles at more than 400,000 properties worldwide. You also have the option of booking with a combination of cash and miles.

The best way to maximize your miles is to use the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card to pay for your stay. Doing so allows you to take advantage of discounted redemption levels, meaning you can book hotel stays with fewer miles, leaving more miles to use elsewhere.

Upgrade to first class

If you want to make your next trip with Alaska Airlines more comfortable, you can use your miles to upgrade to a first-class fare. Upgrades require a flat 15,000 miles.

Of course, if you would rather save your miles for another redemption, you can always purchase a first-class upgrade. Upgrade fees range from $29 to $199 depending on the length of the trip.

Request a free stopover

Another way to extend the value of your Alaska miles is by booking a free stopover. You can get a free stopover per one-way ticket, which is basically a way to visit two cities for the price of one. You can do this online or you can get help from an Alaska Airlines agent at 1-800-252-7522.

Technically, you could use the stopover option for any destination where it's available, but it's typically most valuable on international flights. Just watch out for variations in taxes and fees, especially when booking with partner airlines.

Other ways to use your Alaska Airlines miles

You can also redeem your Alaska Airlines miles for:

  • Charitable donations.

  • Gifts to friends and family (for a fee).

While these options are nice if you want more flexibility, overall, your best bet for making miles count is using them for flights, hotels, first-class upgrades or stopovers.

Frequently asked questions

Award flights start at 5,000 miles in economy and 15,000 miles in first class to fly within the U.S. Alaska Airlines uses a distance-based award chart to calculate pricing, so generally you’ll need fewer miles to book the shorter flights.

According to NerdWallet’s valuations, Alaska Airlines miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for award flights. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on the award prices and cash prices of hundreds of economy routes. You should aim to get this value or higher when you redeem your miles.

You can use your Alaska miles to purchase an award ticket for someone else. Just fill in their name and details in the Passenger Information section when booking.

You can redeem your miles on any of Alaska’s partner airlines, including Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Condor, EL AL Israel Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Finnair, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, Japan Airlines, Korean Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Qantas and Singapore Airlines. You can also soon use your Alaska miles to book with Oneworld partners when Alaska joins the air alliance in 2021.

You cannot currently redeem your Alaska miles for rental cars, but you can earn miles when you rent a car through one of their partners. You can usually access discounts and earn up to 150 miles a day when you book a car rental with your Alaska Mileage Plan account number.

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