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5 Award Sweet Spots Using Alaska Airlines Miles

Aug. 28, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the best loyalty programs for frequent flyers. By partnering with a diverse lineup of 18 international airlines and offering members separate redemption charts for each partner carrier, Alaska has created a program packed with value and flexibility for its members.

There are a number of ways to earn Alaska miles, from traveling on Alaska and its partners to making purchases on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card or booking hotels and rental cars. With so many methods to earn miles, they can rack up quickly.

» Learn more: Alaska Airlines credit card review: Well worth $75 a year

Plus, Alaska Airlines allows stopovers on one-way awards, so you can visit two destinations for the price of one.

Here are five of the best ways to spend your Alaska miles.

1. Travel between the U.S. and Asia

There are a number of options to get from the U.S. to Asia using Alaska miles. If you’re looking for an economical flight on one of the world’s top airlines, both Cathay Pacific and Hainan Airlines offer one-way tickets for 30,000 miles in economy or 50,000 miles in business class.

If you’re looking for a luxurious experience, Cathay Pacific also offers its lavish first class seats for only 70,000 miles. You can also fly first class with Japan Airlines to Northern Asia for 70,000, but your cost will jump 5,000 mile if you’re continuing on to Southeast Asia.

» Flight review: Cathay Pacific first class, L.A. to Hong Kong

It’s worth noting that all of Asia is eligible for the majority of these deals, meaning you can stop in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, or another hub before carrying on to your final destination. Be sure to call and talk about your options for extended layovers.

2. Fly first class to India

One of the most interesting and valuable idiosyncrasies in Alaska’s award charts are Cathay Pacific first class awards to India for only 70,000 miles. Cathay Pacific is known for providing one of the best long-haul first class experiences in the world and India is a unique and beautiful destination, making this an attractive opportunity.

» Learn more: How I flew for free: Round-trip New York to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards

3. Hop, skip, jump and leap around North America

Alaska Airlines flights operating within North America have a distance-based chart for people looking to redeem miles for travel to the U.S. or Canada. However, there is a pretty big range of prices for these flights, so be sure to check their award flight booking tool.

As a general rule, longer-distance flights aren’t as good of a deal.

Here is there award chart for Alaska Airlines flights within the U.S. and to Canada:

Hop (trips less than 700 miles):

Main cabin: 5,000-30,000 miles

First class: 15,000-40,000 miles

Skip (trips between 701 and 1,400 miles):

Main cabin: 7,500-30,000 miles

First class: 25,000-60,000 miles

Jump (trips between 1,401 and 2,100 miles):

Main cabin: 10,000-40,000 miles

First class: 25,000-60,000 miles

Leap (trips longer than 2,101 miles):

Main cabin: 12,500-50,000 miles

First class: 30,000-70,000 miles

Check out the calculator below to learn more about earning Alaska Airlines miles on these flights.

Note: The minimum mileage earned for any segment is 500 miles. So even if you only take a short 100-mile hop, you’re guaranteed to earn 500 miles.

4. Fly to Europe during the off-season

If you’re looking for a cheap way to get to Europe between fall and spring, you’re in luck. American Airlines offers an exceptional deal on flights between the U.S. and Europe. Getting there will only cost you 22,500 miles one-way in economy class for travel between Oct. 15 and May 15.

» Learn more: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Your complete guide

5. Visit the land Down Under

A trip to Australia deserves a spot on every frequent flyer’s bucket list. Fiji Airways and American Airlines both offer economy class fares from the U.S. for 40,000 miles one-way. But the real hidden gem in Alaska’s award charts lies in Qantas. While economy class seats require 42,500 miles, you can enjoy their luxurious first class experience as you travel across the Pacific for just 70,000 miles each way.

» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you

The bottom line

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a well-designed rewards program for frequent flyers. With such a large and diverse global partner network, you can get nearly anywhere in the world for great award rates — regardless of whether you’re flying economy or first class.

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 2020, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
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How to get the most from the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare

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