If you travel up and down the West Coast regularly, Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program could help you wring more rewards out of your travel.
Not only will the airline get you where you need to go, with flights to more than 100 foreign and domestic locations after its acquisition of Virgin America in 2018, its earning system and wide network of airline partners can also be a secret weapon for long-haul travelers and those looking to book international flights with miles.
Here are five things Alaska Airlines gets right with its Mileage Plan program, and how you can use these perks to your advantage.
1. Distance rather than dollars dictate rewards.
Rather than earning miles for dollars spent, Alaska’s Mileage Plan members earn one mile for each mile traveled, making it easier for many to rack up miles and reach elite status faster — especially those logging longer flights.
2. International travel is doable with Alaska’s big partner network.
Alaska has a huge network of international partners that can take you anywhere in the world with Mileage Plan awards. Its network, available to book online or by phone, includes Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Emirates, Aer Lingus and Qantas.
3. Stopovers are allowed on one-way award tickets.
Alaska’s program for allowing stopovers on one-way international award travel is generous, giving you the ability to see two cities for the price of one. If you’re booking round trip, you can see even more. For instance, if you make Munich your destination, you could stop over in London on your way there with British Airways, and then hit Paris on your way back with Air France. Adding stopovers doesn’t change the number of miles you pay for your ticket, but the taxes and fees could vary.
4. Get better rewards from partner airlines.
You can credit paid partner flights to your Alaska account and reap larger returns than you might get from these other programs. Each partner has its own earning chart based on the fare class you’re flying, so make sure you’re getting a good deal before you commit. For some partners, the payoffs are big, such as the 200% bonus at Emirates.
5. Receive an extra year of elite status when you become a parent.
Alaska Airlines’ elite status is fairly easy to attain, and its perks are numerous, from priority check-ins to free upgrades for more legroom and complimentary same-day standby service. To avoid losing these benefits, travelers who just had a baby and are sticking close to home can utilize Alaska’s Elite Leave policy, which allows them to preserve their MVP status for an extra year. It’s a great perk that can be had just by showing proof of pregnancy or parental leave.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: The complete guide
Best airline credit cards of 2018
9 easy ways to earn travel rewards you’ll actually use