7 Reasons Why Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a Powerhouse Program

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a powerhouse program, no doubt.  It offers some of the most valuable redemption possibilities out of any airline for not just getting around the US, but for getting around the world with its many quality partners. Here are 7 reasons why Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a powerhouse program.  

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1) Bank of America credit cards

Bank of America offers the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card which comes with a 30,000 miles sign-up bonus after spending just $1,000 in 90 days. There’s also a business version of this credit card offering a 30,000 mile sign-up bonus, too.

While these cards aren’t as easy to get approved for as they were a year or two ago, for some people they’re able to take advantage of these cards and rack up a lot of Alaska miles over the course of a year. 

The only thing is that you have to be careful that you get approved for the Visa Signature version of the card, otherwise, you might stuck with a inferior sign-up bonus. Typically, if you get approved for this card and your credit limit is over $5,000, there’s a great chance you’ve got the Visa Signature version.

If you do get stuck with the inferior version, you can always cancel the card before opening it. You’ll still get hit with the hard pull on your credit report but it shouldn’t show up as a newly opened account on your report.

2) Non-revenue earning miles

Alaska MileagePlan is one of the last airline loyalty programs to offer members the chance to earn miles based on the distance flown rather than the price of the airfare. This means that true mileage runs are still possible with Alaska, making it more fun and obtainable to chase elite status.

Also, you can earn status purely with flights on partners, so the possibilities for mileage runs are even easier (although partner miles require a higher threshold for status).

3) Status matches

Alaska is one of the few airlines that will offer you the chance to get your status matched from other major airlines like United, American, Delta, etc. They will even match you up to their top level of elite status MVP Gold 75K! Once you hit the top level of elite status, you’re rewarded with exceptional bonus earning rates and other perks like confirmed upgrades among others.

4) Stopovers on one way awards

Alaska is also one of the last loyalty programs that allows you to do stopovers on one-way awards. These are ideal for when you’re flying on partners like Cathay Pacific and have to fly through Hong Kong, as it essentially adds on a free one-way segment to your next destination and give you the chance to visit another city.

5) Cheap redemptions on Alaska

Alaska now operates a distance-based redemption chart that greatly reduced the mileage requirements for some routes, especially those for certain short-haul flights. Below is a list of some of the changes that were made (using the same terminology that Alaska is using).

“Hop”: trips less than 700 miles

  • Main Cabin: 5,000 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was previously 12,500 miles, so that’s a fantastic reduction. You can now get between destinations like SFO-SEA for only 5,000 Alaska miles!

“Skip”: trips between 701 and 1,400 miles

  • Main Cabin: 7,500 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was also previously 12,500 miles.

“Jump”: trips between 1,401 and 2,100 miles

  • Main Cabin: 10,000 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was also previously 12,500 miles.

“Leap”: trips longer than 2,101

  • Main Cabin: 12,500 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This essentially preserves the previous standard redemption route for getting around North America with Alaska miles.

6) Cheap partner redemptions

The redemption rates on partner awards is what makes Alaska is so special in my opinion. They consistently offer redemption rates they blow others out of the water and they have great partners despite the fact that they don’t belong to an alliance.

For example, you could use Alaska miles to fly business class on Cathay Pacific to South East Asia for only 100,000 miles. American would require 40,000 additional miles for that same booking. United would require 60,000 more for that route, too.

These cheap redemptions are found all across the board, whether you’re traveling to Asia, South America, and even Europe, you’ll find that Alaska offers some of the most competitive pricing for redemptions available. And the fees are often very reasonable.

Alaska also partners with airlines like Emirates, although the most recent sneak devaluation really hurt that redemption (and Alaska’s credibility to an extent).

The big thing to remember with Alaska is that they offer different redemption rates based on the airline that you’re flying with. So if you’re using Alaska miles to fly to Asia, the miles needed might be different depending if you’re flying on Korean, Cathay Pacific, JAL, etc.

7) Great customer service

In my handful of experiences with Alaska Airlines representatives, the experience has been great. They’ve been courteous, professional, and knowledgable, even about booking on partner awards which is something I’ve learned not to take for granted with phone reps. Although my experiences are bit anecdotal, I feel that Alaska is one of the airlines that have provided me with consistent quality when trying to sort things out.

Final word

The only drawback to the Mileage Plan program is that they are not a transfer partner of a major rewards program like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. They are a transfer partner to SPG but that only goes so far. Still, with the Bank of America Alaska cards it’s not that that difficult to earn enough miles over the course of about 6 months to a year, to have enough miles for a premium redemption to somewhere across the globe. For that reason, and all of the reasons above, I think Alaska Mileage Plan is one of the top loyalty programs out there.