Your Guide to Booking Awards on Alaska Airlines

Jul 9, 2020

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Alaska Airlines is well-known for bucking a lot of typical airline trends, and that approach extends to its award program too. Alaska's award pricing is not “dynamic” like that of United Airlines or American Airlines — instead, its award flight booking system costs members a range of miles based on route popularity and flight distance. It also awards miles in distance traveled rather than dollars spent on any given leg of a flight.

But those who join Alaska Airlines’ free loyalty program, Mileage Plan, will have access to some of the most attractive redemption deals on the market.

Use Alaska Airlines award charts to calculate cost

Each Alaska Airlines partner has a unique award chart, which means the same U.S. to Asia flight route can cost different amounts of miles depending on your carrier. Cross check the miles cost for the same route across multiple airlines to get the most value out of your mile redemption.

Beyond domestic flights on Alaska Airlines itself, its current international partners include:

  • Aer Lingus.

  • American Airlines (international flights only).

  • 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.

You can figure out how many miles you need to book your flight by using Alaska Airlines’ handy calculator. Simply input which region you’re traveling from and which region you’re traveling to, and your results will instantly appear.

On the more affordable end, flights from the contiguous U.S. and Alaska to other domestic destinations can cost as little as 5,000 miles if under 700 miles. On the high end, economy tickets from the contiguous U.S. to the South Pacific can cost you 85,000 miles.

Pay attention to your miles earning potential

Your ability to earn miles while flying partner airlines varies significantly. For instance, you’ll earn 25% of miles flown on partner Aer Lingus for the lowest economy fare class, whereas Qantas’ lowest economy fare class tickets will award you 100% for flown miles.

Don’t forget your free stopover

If you’re booking an international award flight and have the time, cash in on Alaska Airlines’ free stopover perk. You can stay in a destination en route to your final destination anywhere from a few days to a few weeks at no extra points cost to you.

Upgrade to first class

If you’re already booked on a flight with a lower fare class, but can’t stop daydreaming of first-class perks like spacious leather seats and fresh meals, you can redeem 15,000 award miles for a first class upgrade. Note that upgrades like these are not eligible for lounge access.

Consider booking your stay with Mileage Plan Hotels

Earn points while you’re snoozing when you use miles to book a hotel stay on your trip. No matter your travel style, one of Alaska Airlines’ 400,000 affiliated properties around the world will likely be a match. If you’re an Alaska Airlines credit card holder, you can enjoy additional discounts for stays.

Use Money & Miles to book your trip

Get a discount of up to $100 off your one-way or round-trip flight when you book an award with a combination of cash and your miles. This program is eligible for coach and first class fares, and you’ll still benefit from the 1:1 ratio for miles flown and miles earned.

Note that this spending scheme is not available for saver fares.

Other ways to book rewards on Alaska Airlines

Car rentals

You can keep earning miles on the highway after your plane has landed. Use your Alaska Airlines miles to rent cars from Avis, Alamo, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National and Thrifty. There are some great deals to be found here, such as 50 extra miles earned daily for up to four days with an Avis rental.

Magazine subscriptions

Love the Food Network Magazine? Can't get enough of Golf Digest? Use 500+ award miles to purchase issues of some of your favorite publications, no cash needed.

Gift or donate your miles

Airline miles can be a great gift. Transfer current miles to friends and loved ones for $10 per 1,000 miles, or consider donating extra miles through Alaska Airlines’ LIFT miles program that supports worthy causes, like Make-A-Wish.

The bottom line

You can quickly earn Alaska Airlines miles through all of the normal channels, and likely the best value to redeem them is on international flights — with a free stopover peppered in (both ways). Figuring out Alaska's award chart might take a large cup of coffee and serious concentration, but you’ll be rewarded in the end with high-value redemption opportunities.


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:

partner programs

IHG® One Rewards
Get exclusive benefits and earn points faster
World of Hyatt
Enjoy free nights, member rates and more
Alaska Mileage Plan
Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
IHG® Rewards Program

IHG® One Rewards

Wherever you go, however you stay, IHG One Rewards offers rewards for every one.

on IHG One Rewards’ website

Highlights:
  1. Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
  2. Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
  3. Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.
  1. Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
  2. Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
  3. Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.

on IHG One Rewards’ website

World of Hyatt

World of Hyatt

With the World of Hyatt loyalty program, enjoy a world of rewards designed to revolve around you.

on Hyatt's website

Highlights:
  1. Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
  2. Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
  3. Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.
  1. Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
  2. Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
  3. Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.

on Hyatt's website

logo image

Alaska Mileage Plan

Mileage Plan is Alaska's loyalty program for anyone who loves to travel and is free to join!

on Alaska's website

Highlights:
  1. Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
  2. Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
  3. You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend
  1. Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
  2. Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
  3. You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend

on Alaska's website

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