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5 Award Sweet Spots Using Alaska Airlines Miles

Feb. 14, 2020
Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel
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When you think of Alaska Airlines, don’t just think of traveling to Alaska. Yes, the airline is based in the largest U.S. state, and you’ll find many regular flights are indeed to and from Alaska.

But through its partners, you can use Alaska Airlines miles to fly to over 800 destinations — many of them warm and exotic, and others full of adventurous opportunities. And luckily, many are available as award flights.

Want to know where your Mileage Plan miles can take you? Check out these Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan sweet spots to plan your next trip.

About Mileage Plan

Before you book an award flight on Alaska, it’s important to get to know Mileage Plan, the airline’s frequent flyer program, a little better. Award flights start as low as 5,000 miles for a one-way flight. When you book airfare and pay with cash, you’ll earn one mile for each mile you fly.

You can also become an elite member when you earn 20,000 miles, which gets you free checked luggage, priority boarding and preferred seating on Alaska Airlines flights.

But your miles aren’t good only for Alaska Airlines flights; Alaska has 18 worldwide airline partners, and you can book with miles on any of them:

  • Aer Lingus.
  • American Airlines.
  • British Airways.
  • Cathay Pacific.
  • Condor.
  • El Al.
  • Emirates.
  • Fiji Airways.
  • Finnair.
  • Hainan Airlines.
  • Iceland Air.
  • Japan Air.
  • Korean Air.
  • LATAM Airlines.
  • PenAir.
  • Qantas.
  • Ravn Alaska.
  • Singapore Airlines.

» Learn more: Complete guide to Alaska Airlines partners 

When booking online, keep in mind that some partner airlines may not show up in award flight results. If you don’t see a flight you want, you may have to call the airline to book.

And don’t forget about stopovers! Alaska allows you to book one stopover per direction of travel for no additional cost, meaning you can essentially enjoy three destinations for the price of one. You can search online using the multi-city booking tool or call an agent for help.

» Learn more: Guide to the Alaska Airlines award chart

New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific for 20,000 miles (on sale)

If you’ve always wanted to explore the rugged coastlines of New Zealand, the Outback of Australia or the vibrant cultures of the South Pacific, now’s the time. If you book award travel by February 29, you’ll need 50% fewer Mileage Plan miles than usual for a Fiji Airways flight.

The best deal we found is on an economy flight from the mainland U.S. to any of these three destinations. These flights normally cost 40,000 miles, but for a limited time you can book for 20,000 instead.

While the discounts aren’t as steep if you’re flying business class or flying from Hawaii, there’s still a significant savings in miles required to book.

To get this deal, simply select your departure and destination city (somewhere in Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific), and select a qualifying flight. Then enjoy your savings.

After this deal expires, you can use Alaska miles on American Airlines or Cathay Pacific to get to Australia or New Zealand starting at 40,000 miles in economy class, or choose Qantas to travel in first class for just 70,000 miles.

San Jose, Costa Rica for 17,500 miles each way

For as few as 17,500 miles each way, you can be sipping cocktails poolside or trekking through dense rainforest in Costa Rica. Both Alaska Airlines and partner American Airlines fly to this Central American destination.

While economy might save you some miles, if you prefer to fly business or first class, it’s worth a quick search to see which airline requires the fewest miles. Business/first class on American Airlines requires 27,500 – 52,500 Mileage Plan miles, but you’ll pay between 30,000 and 70,000 on Alaska. Either way, you could be basking in the sun in no time.

Anchorage or Juneau, Alaska (and ski for free)

Maybe it’s a given that Anchorage and Juneau would be sweet spots to fly with Alaska Airlines, but what you might not know is that in the cooler months, you can fly to Alaska and then get a free day of skiing at participating resorts.

There are participating ski resorts all over the western United States too, but since Alaska is on many travelers’ bucket lists, why not start your ski adventure there?

In Anchorage, for example, just show your boarding pass and you’ll get a free lift ticket at Alyeska Resort. Or you can do the same at Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau.

Just make sure you look out for the fine print: You can only score a free pass on the same day you fly in. And at Alyeska, weekends and some holidays are blacked out — so you have to arrive during the week to take advantage of the offer. But if you book a morning flight on a weekday, it’s a great deal to get you out on the slopes.

» Learn more: How to book a ski trip and save cash

Beijing, China (with a free stopover)

This mystical capital city is brimming with culture — and you can absolutely book an award flight with Mileage Plan miles to get there.

Several of Alaska’s partner airlines, including Hainan Airlines, Japan Air and American Airlines, fly to Beijing. But before you finalize your plans, check to see where you might be able to book a stopover to make the most of a long flight to Asia.

After all, if you’re going to be traveling for so many hours, you might as well spend a few days in Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific’s home base) or Tokyo (on Japan Air) on the way.

» Learn more: 5 things the Alaska Airlines mileage program gets right

The bottom line

You can fly to more places than just Alaska with your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles. Check their award chart to see how many miles you may need to get to your dream destination, then rest easy knowing you have a world of options.

How to maximize your rewards

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Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:

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