How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (2024)

In the interest of full disclosure, OMAAT earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. The information and associated card details on this page for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card card have been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. These are the best publicly available offers (terms apply) that we have found for each product or service. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, hotel chain, or product manufacturer/service provider, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about our partners, and thanks for your support!

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has long been a favorite points currency among miles & points geeks, given the carrier’s unique array of airline partners, generous stopover policy, and attractive redemption rates. The program is undergoing some major changes at the moment, whereby Alaska is completely overhauling how it prices awards.

In this post, I wanted to talk a bit more about Mileage Plan miles — how do you earn them, what are the rules around redeeming them, and what are the best uses of them?

In this post:

How to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles

There are several different ways to go about earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles, from credit cards, to outright buying miles, to transferring them from other cards.

Earn Alaska miles with Alaska credit cards

Alaska Airlines has two co-branded credit cards, issued by Bank of America:

  • For those looking for a personal card, theAlaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card (review) has a large welcome bonus and lots of valuable perks
  • For those looking for a business card, the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card (review) also has an excellent bonus and lots of benefits

These cards offer a variety of long-term benefits, including a first checked bag free, priority boarding, savings on inflight purchases, Alaska Lounge membership discounts, the ability to earn a companion fare, and more.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (1)

Earn Alaska miles with other credit cards

Alaska Mileage Plan is transfer partners with Bilt Rewards, so you can transfer Bilt points to Alaska at a 1:1 ratio. This could be a great reason to pick up theBilt Mastercard®(review), given how lucrative the card is.

The program also partners with Marriott Bonvoy, so you can transfer over Marriott points. The ratio is that 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points convert into 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles (if you convert in different increments it’s a 3:1 ratio).

This can be a solid deal, and there are lots of credit cards that can earn you Marriott Bonvoy points, including the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card(review), Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card(review), Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card(review), Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card (review), and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card(review).

Buy Alaska miles

Alaska Mileage Plan is pretty aggressive about selling miles, and the program seems to offer promotions on purchased miles every couple of months. When we see these offers, you can expect bonuses in the range of 40-70%. This is often an opportunity to acquire Alaska miles for under two cents each.

It doesn’t cost anything to join the Alaska Mileage Plan rewards program, so I generally recommend signing up ahead of time — you have to be a member for at least 10 days in order to take advantage of one of these promotions.

Earn Alaska miles by flying

Not only are there great ways to earn Alaska miles either through credit cards or by buying them outright, but Alaska is also a good program to credit flights to.

For one, Alaska Mileage Plan is the last major US frequent flyer program to award miles based on distance flown rather than dollars spent.

Alaska also has excellent mileage earning rates on a variety of airline partners, ranging from Condor to Cathay Pacific. Alaska Mileage Plan lets you earn miles for travel on the following airline partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • EL AL
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Ravn Alaska
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • Starlux Airlines

You could even qualify for elite status — MVP Gold 100K,MVP Gold 75K,MVP Gold, or MVP — exclusively through travel on partner airlines.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (2)

Basics of redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan miles

Alaska Mileage Plan has some great redemption opportunities, though there are also quite a few rules to be aware of. Let’s cover some of those basics.

Alaska miles redemption partners

Alaska Airlines belongs to the oneworld alliance, though the airline has a wide array of partners beyond oneworld. It’s possible to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on the following airlines:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • EL AL
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • Starlux Airlines

All Mileage Plan award redemption partners can be booked online at alaskaair.com. If you have a complicated itinerary or are having issues with Alaska’s website, you’ll want to call Alaska’s Mileage Plan partner award desk, which can be reached at 800-252-7522.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (3)

Alaska has region & distance based award charts

With the new program, Alaska Mileage Plan has three simple award charts that are a combination of zone and distance based.

There’s the Americas award chart, which covers any travel from the United States to anywhere in the Americas, including North America and South America.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (4)

Then there’s the Europe, Middle East, and Africa award chart, which includes travel from the United States to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and travel within Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (5)

Lastly, there’s the Asia-Pacific award chart, which includes travel from the United States to Asia-Pacific, within Asia-Pacific, and between Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (6)

The most significant thing to understand here is that the “starting at” prices are actually what you’re going to pay if there’s saver level award availability. All partners have the same award pricing assuming there’s saver award availability.

There are a few other important things to mention:

  • Award pricing is based on the cumulative distance of one-way travel
  • As you can see above, there’s a hierarchy of award charts, so the Americas chart only applies if you’re traveling within the Americas, the Europe, the Middle East, and Africa chart applies if traveling from the United States to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and the Asia-Pacific chart applies if traveling within Asia-Pacific, or between Asia-Pacific and any other regions
  • This is very specific, but for travel in Icelandair Saga Class (business class), pricing is based on premium economy rather than business class, given the type of product that Icelandair offers

While it’s not yet available, note that later in 2024, Mileage Plan intends to allow members to mix two partners on a single one-way award ticket, which is an exciting development. However, we don’t have an exact timeline for that yet.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (7)

Alaska allows stopovers on one-way awards

One of my favorite things about the Alaska Mileage Plan program is that you are allowed a stopover on a one-way award ticket when traveling between regions. This is possible regardless of which partner you redeem with.

So if you book a roundtrip as two one-ways, this means you can potentially get two stopovers on a roundtrip ticket. To book a ticket online with a stopover, just use the multi-city function, and you can search each portion of the ticket individually.

Now, admittedly with the new program being distance based, you are in some cases potentially paying more for itineraries with stopovers, but it’s still a useful feature.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (8)

Alaska award inventory discrepancies

On the surface, Alaska Mileage Plan should have access to the same award availability as other partner airlines do, though in some cases Mileage Plan inexplicably doesn’t have access to the same space. Most commonly:

  • Mileage Plan often has access to one less first and/or business class award seat on Cathay Pacific than other programs do
  • Qantas awards sometimes don’t show up, though there’s not much rhyme or reason to that
  • Mileage Plan often has access to one less business class award seat on Aer Lingus than other programs do

This won’t be consistent, but it is something to be aware of, and it sure can be frustrating. There’s generally not any way to get around this.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (9)

Alaska 72-hour advance booking policy for Asia

While this has limited implications for most members, Mileage Plan has a policy for travel within Asia. Specifically, you can’t redeem miles for travel within Asia when booking within 72 hours of departure. Apparently this rule exists due to fraudulent redemptions, so it is something to be aware of.

Alaska award ticketing fees

There are a couple of fees associated with redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan miles:

  • There’s a $12.50 partner award booking fee, which is charged each way per passenger, and applies for all new partner award bookings; this fee isn’t waived for elite members, and it’s non-refundable, so if you cancel your ticket, you won’t get that fee back
  • If you book by phone, there’s a $15 service fee, which is waived for MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K members

Alaska award ticket change & cancelation fees

Alaska Mileage Plan no longer has any change or cancelation fees for award tickets, which gives you lots of flexibility to speculatively lock in awards, or even change them if a better routing opens up. The only exception is that the $12.50 partner award booking fee can’t be refunded.

Alaska award ticket fuel surcharges

Alaska Mileage Plan passes on carrier imposed surcharges (often referred to as fuel surcharges) for travel on some partner airlines. Specifically, these apply for travel on British Airways, Hainan Airlines, and Icelandair. Fortunately they don’t apply for travel on other partner airlines.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (10)

Alaska award ticket hold policy

Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t allow award tickets to be placed on hold. To book a Mileage Plan award ticket you need to have sufficient miles in your account, though you can always cancel it for free.

Alaska miles expiration policy

Alaska Mileage Plan miles don’t expire. However, if you don’t have any account activity for over two years, your account may be locked for security reasons, and your miles may be accessed by contacting Mileage Plan and verifying personal details.

Best ways to use Alaska Mileage Plan miles

We all have different travel goals, so there’s never going to be a one size fits all answer as to what the best use of miles is. Personally, my favorite way to redeem miles is for aspirational redemptions in first and business class, since that’s where you’ll get the most outsized value.

With the changes we’re seeing to Mileage Plan, the sweet spot redemptions have completely changed. Under the old program, ultra long haul awards in first and business class were the best deal, assuming you could find availability. With the new program, you’ll get better value the shorter distance you travel.

In some way, the new Mileage Plan award charts are almost a competitor to British Airways Executive Club, in terms of the great value of short haul redemptions. Since you can now redeem Mileage Plan miles for flights globally, I figured the best way to share some sweet spots would just be to take a look at each award chart individually.

Redeeming Mileage Plan miles within the Americas

Below is the Mileage Plan award chart for the Americas, which applies exclusively if traveling within the Americas (including North and South America).

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (11)

Here are some of the sweet spots, as I see it:

  • Short haul redemptions on both Alaska and American are incredibly cheap, as in economy you can redeem just 4,500 miles to fly a distance of up to 700 miles, and you can redeem 7,500 miles to fly a distance of 701-1,400 miles; business class award prices are also attractive for these distance bands
  • Awards between North and South America on American and LATAM can also be a good value, as in business class you can redeem 35,000 miles to fly a distance of 2,101-4,000 miles (like New York to Lima), and you can redeem 50,000 miles to fly a distance of 4,001-6,000 miles (like Miami to Sao Paulo)

Honestly, I think this is the chart with the most consistently good pricing, whether traveling short haul or long haul. So if you can find award availability within the Americas, you should be pretty happy with the pricing.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (12)

Redeeming Mileage Plan miles to & from Europe, Middle East, Africa

Below is the Mileage Plan award chart for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, which applies if traveling within or between any of those regions, and also applies if traveling between the Americas and any of those regions.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (13)

Here are some of the sweet spots, as I see it:

  • Short haul redemptions are a phenomenal deal, whether in economy or business class; for 7,500 miles in economy or 15,000 miles in business class, you can fly a distance of up to 1,500 miles within Europe or the Middle East, on carriers like British Airways, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways, and more
  • Since Icelandair business class awards price as premium economy, you could redeem 35,000 miles in business class for an Icelandair award from the United States to Europe with a stopover in Iceland
  • Flights from the Northeast of the United States to London clock in at just under 3,500 miles, so you could redeem 45,000 miles in business class for those flights
  • The longer distance awards are less exciting of a deal, unless you can take advantage of a stopover opportunity to maximize your value
How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (14)

Redeeming Mileage Plan miles to & from Asia-Pacific

Below is the Mileage Plan award chart for Asia-Pacific, which applies if traveling within Asia-Pacific, and between Asia-Pacific and any other regions. Note that Asia includes the Indian subcontinent, since some other award charts put that in the same region as the Middle East.

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (15)

Here are some of the sweet spots, as I see it:

  • Short haul redemptions are a phenomenal deal, whether in economy or business class; for 7,500 miles in economy or 15,000 miles in business class, you can fly a distance of up to 1,500 miles within Asia-Pacific, on airlines like Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Starlux Airlines, and many more
  • Long haul awards could also be a great deal, especially if you value a stopover; for example, you could fly from the United States to anywhere in Asia (distance of up to 10,000 miles) for 85,000 miles in business class, with a stopover along the way
How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (16)

Bottom line

The Alaska Mileage Plan program is in the process of being completely overhauled at the moment. In the past, the best use of Mileage Plan miles was for ultra long haul first class awards. Now the best use of Mileage Plan miles is shorter distance awards, in both economy and business class.

While I know many people aren’t happy about the changes to the program, the reality is that many of the best uses of Mileage Plan miles had become nearly impossible to redeem for, like Cathay Pacific first class, Japan Airlines first class, and more.

The new program goes from aspirational to practical, and that’s something that I like, at least in this point in history. The number of redemptions I make through Mileage Plan will likely be increasing drastically, primarily for business class short haul awards across the globe. This will become my new go-to program for awards covering a distance of up to 1,500 miles, give or take.

What’s your favorite use of Alaska Mileage Plan miles with the new program?

How To Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Best Value (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Last Updated:

Views: 5895

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Birthday: 1996-12-09

Address: Apt. 141 1406 Mitch Summit, New Teganshire, UT 82655-0699

Phone: +2296092334654

Job: Technology Architect

Hobby: Snowboarding, Scouting, Foreign language learning, Dowsing, Baton twirling, Sculpting, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Francesca Jacobs Ret, I am a innocent, super, beautiful, charming, lucky, gentle, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.