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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is without a doubt one of the best miles and points programs.
One of the biggest reasons is that they have a ton of sweet spot redemptions and a lot of the taxes and fees that you have to pay are very minimal.
You also can search and book flights online with a lot of partners which makes things very easy. And lastly, you can take advantage of stopovers on one way flights.
In this article, I’ll give you 20 of the best uses for Alaska Airline Mileage Plan miles.
I focused largely on first class and business class redemptions since those are where the most value is but in a lot of cases main cabin redemptions can be lucrative on those same routes as well.
Earning Alaska Airline miles
Alaska Airlines is not a partner with a major transferable program such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, or Citi ThankYou Points.
However, they are a partner of Marriott Bonvoy and you can transfer your Bonvoy points at a ratio of 3 to 1 and receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer over.
So 60,000 Marriott points would translate into 25,000 Mileage Plan miles.
This means you can use cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless to supplement your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan balances.
But there are also two great options to go with from Bank of America. There is the personal Alaska Airlines credit card and also the business version.
You can find these cards with bonuses around 40,000 points so it’s not terribly difficult to earn around 70,000 to 80,000 miles pretty quickly.
If you combined those earnings with a Marriott card you could quickly be working with over 100,000+ Alaska Airline miles. And as you’ll see below, that amount of miles could take you pretty far.
Alaska Airlines booking fees
When you make an Alaska Airlines booking, in many cases you can avoid high surcharges. But you will have to pay certain types of fees in some cases.
First, there is a $15 fee for booking over the phone. You should be able to book most partners online but some will have to be booked over the phone.
There also is a $25 fee for booking partner awards.
If you need to change or cancel your booking after 24 hours, you have to pay a $125 change/cancellation fee.
Your miles will be redeposited and you will be refunded any taxes/fees on the award booking except for phone booking fees and the partner award fee.
Best uses of Alaska Airline miles
Cathay Pacific First Class (US to Asia)
- 70,000 miles one-way
Cathay Pacific first class is widely regarded as one of the top first class experiences in the world. It’s an ultra-luxurious flying experience with a super spacious seat and arguably the most comfortable bed in the sky.
The suites are not fully enclosed but have partitions that extend out pretty far offering tons of privacy. When dining, you can choose to join a companion and eat right across from each other while in the sky.
Speaking of the dining experience, you’ll enjoy fine champagne, caviar, and some other amazing dishes during your flight.
The first class cabin is also very intimate with only six suites located at the front of the plane.
Tip: Try to sit in “Aisle A” For maximum privacy.
If you are flying out of Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), you can experience the highly reviewed lounge known as The Pier. It’s an elegant lounge with quality dining, a beautiful bar area, day beds, a spa, and really nice showers.
Related: Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong review
First Class on JAL (US to Asia)
- 70,000 miles one-way
Japan Airlines first class is another one of the top first class products.
Just like Cathay Pacific first class, the suites are not fully enclosed. However, they are quite spacious. You’ll enjoy top amenities like ETRO amenity kits, Bose headphones, and comfy pajamas.
The dining and drinking experience on JAL first class will be top notch. In the past, they have served up Cristal champagne and Salon 2007, the latter of which goes for $600 a bottle.
Tip: If you are flying from Japan, consider flying out of Haneda (HND) instead of Narita (NRT) for Red Suites.
The Red Suites are located in the Japan Airlines first class lounge at HND and are very private. The experience is almost like a Japan Airlines AvGeek (aviation geek) museum, complete with features like an adult game room, shoe shining, and champagne sake room.
If you don’t want to shell out for first class or if you can’t find availability, you can get to Asia for only 60,000 miles in JAL business class and around $30 in fees.
Singapore Airlines First Class (US to Asia)
- 130,000 miles one-way
One of the best changes that came to the Alaska Airlines mileage program is that you can book first class on Singapore Airlines.
If you’re flying from the contiguous US to Southeast Asia, you can redeem at 130,000 miles one way. But you may want to look into flying between other destinations where you can enjoy the Singapore Suites.
Singapore Suites are definitely one of the top three first class products currently available and some might even put them at number one. You’ll enjoy a ridiculously spacious suite along with some of the best service you will probably ever encounter anywhere.
And then there is the champagne and dining. You’ll be offered premium champagne like Dom Perignon and Krug along with elaborate dishes and fine caviar.
Cathay Pacific Business Class (US — Asia)
- 50,000 miles one-way
If you want to conserve your points a little bit better, consider flying business class on Cathay Pacific from the US to Asia. At 50,000 points one way, it is one of the best sweet spots to get to Asia in business class one-way.
In my experience, the Cathay Pacific business class product is pretty solid. It offers a fair amount of privacy with a privacy shield that extends out a little bit and has a fair amount of legroom with fully lie flat seats.
I would definitely feel okay with crossing the Pacific in Cathay Pacific business class.
Emirates Business Class (US — Asia)
- 105,000 miles one way
Flying Emirates in business class to Asia is going to be an expensive trip at 105,000 miles one way. So this is not the way to go for people trying to conserve their miles.
However, some people may want to try out the highly respected business class on Emirates and make a trip through Dubai out of it. Fees for this route could be as low as $29 so it’s not quite as bad as it seems.
So if you are in the aspirational crowd, you might want to give this redemption consideration.
Cathay Pacific Business Class (Intra-Asia)
- 22,500 miles one-way
If you need to travel within Asia, using your Alaska miles can be one of the best ways to get around. At only 22,500 miles one way, it’s definitely a sweet spot. So if you needed to get between say Hong Kong and Bangkok, you could fly on Cathay Pacific.
Just note that stopovers are no longer allowed on intra-Asia flights.
Cathay Pacific First Class (US — Middle East)
- 70,000 miles one-way
One of the best ways to fly first class on Cathay Pacific could be flying between the US and the Middle East because 70,000 miles is a steal. Having a layover or stopover in Hong Kong would also be awesome.
Even though it is quite the long distance from the US to Hong Kong to the Middle East, I would be okay with flying such a long-haul in first class on Cathay Pacific any day of the week.
British Airways First Class (US — Middle East)
- 80,000 miles one-way
If you are planning a trip to the Middle East, your natural inclination might be to use Alaska miles on Emirates. But there is a sweet spot if you choose to book first class on British Airways at only 80,000 miles.
First class on British Airways doesn’t get a whole lot of respect to be honest. However, I feel that it is a tad bit underrated.
It may not blow you away like some of the top airline products out there but I think it is still good enough to woo someone not completely spoiled by the likes of things like the Etihad Apartment.
The major drawback to booking British Airways first class is that you will have to fly through London and pay some massive surcharges and fees. So while the mileage requirement is very low be prepared for some sky-high fees.
For example, for the one-way flight from SFO to DXB via LHR, your fees could be a minimum of $930!
Emirates First Class (US — Middle East)
- 150,000 miles one-way
If you don’t mind shelling out miles then Emirates First Class could be a good use of your points.
The Emirates first class experience is something that you will never forget. It’s known for its amazing showers in the sky and the popular in-flight bar which is one of the best bars in the sky.
But it’s also a great hard product with a fully enclosed suite and in my experience: top-notch service.
Some might not even think about spending so many points on a redemption but Emirates is a bucket list experience that some people will feel okay splurging on.
The good thing about going with Alaska miles is that your fees will be very minimal although Emirates did recently lower their fees across several bookings. For example, I saw one-way flights with fees as low as $20 for first class!
American Airlines business class (US — South America)
- 30,000 miles one-way
If you want to head down to northern South America which would include countries like Columbia and Peru, using Alaska miles on American Airlines business class is a great sweet spot.
Fees for these redemptions are as low as $34 so it’s a very cheap redemption all around.
LATAM business class (US — South America)
- 45,000 miles one-way
If you want to head to southern South America, meaning places like Brazil or Chile, the price goes up to 45,000 miles one-way in business class but it’s still a pretty great offer.
If you don’t mind shelling out more miles, you could head down in first class on American Airlines with 57,500 miles one way and fees as low as $19!
LATAM business class (Intra-South America)
- 25,000 miles one-way
If you want to get around South America comfortably in business class, then using Alaska miles can be a smart choice. Once again, you’ll be flying on LATAM.
Sometimes flights within South America can be quite expensive, especially in business class so you can also net a lot of value with your miles this way.
LATAM business class (Easter Island — South America)
- 35,000 miles one-way
If you want to explore the mysterious island of Easter Island and all of the cool ruins, Alaska miles are a great choice.
You might also think about using a different program like British Airways Avios for this route as it is one of the best sweet spots available for Easter Island.
Qantas business class (US — New Zealand)
- 55,000 miles one-way
If you want to head down to New Zealand and explore things like Hobbiton and the glowworm caves, using your Alaska miles on Qantas is a super efficient way to get there.
A business class redemption will only require 55,000 miles one way which is a great sweet spot.
Availability may be an issue with this redemption so it could require a lot of persistence.
Qantas first class (US — New Zealand)
- 70,000 miles one-way
Qantas is known for having a pretty solid first class product and for only 15,000 more miles, you could fly down to New Zealand in first class. Once again, availability can be tough.
Aer Lingus business class (US — Europe)
- 60,000 miles one-way
If you know anything about using miles and points to get to Europe, you know that the fees can be outrageous sometimes.
However, if you use your Alaska miles to fly on Aer Lingus your fees can be under $20 on a one-way flight from JFK to DUB!
60,000 miles is not super cheap but considering that the fees can be so low it can be a good option for people who don’t want to come out of pocket when flying to Europe.
Alaska Airlines (Flights across the US)
Using Alaska miles can be a great way to get around the US. The prices will change depending on the distance and specific fare you take (the highest prices hard for refundable awards).
Here are some prices you can expect:
- Main cabin less than 700 miles: 5000 to 30,000
- First class less than 700 miles: 15,000 to 40,000
- Main cabin 701 miles to 1,400 : 7,500 to 30,000
- First class 701 miles to 1,400: 25,000 to 60,000
- Main cabin 1,401 miles to 2,100 miles: 10,000 to 40,000
- First class 1,401 miles to 2,100 miles: 25,000 to 60,000
If you book a first class flight, just like on other airlines, you won’t have to worry about paying for your checked baggage for your first couple of bags. And something unique about Alaska Airlines is that they will grant you lounge access even on domestic first class flights.
Also, if you are an Alaskan resident you may want to look into a Club 49 membership that can save you in different ways.
American Airlines business class (Flights across the US)
- 25,000 miles one way
If you want to fly around the US in first class then using Alaska miles on American Airlines can be a great option. The price is not heavily discounted but it is pretty standard at 25,000 miles one way.
Cathay Pacific First Class (US to Canada)
- 35,000 miles
If you are not planning on making the long-haul trip over the Pacific to Hong Kong but you still want to experience the awesome first class feeling on Cathay Pacific consider using your Alaska miles to fly from Vancouver to New York for only 35,000 miles.
It’s not going to give you the full experience where you will be dozing off for hours but for many people this is a great way to test out or just experience one of the best first class products while not having to leave North America.
Update: This route is no longer available.
American Airlines business class (US — Mexico)
- 27,500 miles one way
Alaska Airlines has a tiered award structure for flights down south to Mexico from the US. Depending on the type of fare booked and the length of your trip, your price will fluctuate.
But you can find flights in first/business class for some great rates like 27,500 miles and only around $44 in fees even when flying from destinations like Northern California to San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.
If you are okay with flying main cabin, you can get down there for only 10,000 miles!
Alaska Airlines FAQ
What are the Alaska Airlines booking fees?
There is a $15 booking fee for bookings made over the phone and also a $25 fee for all partner awards.
Where can I transfer points to Alaska from?
Alaska is a transfer a partner of Marriott but they are not a transfer partner of a major flexible rewards program like Chase, American Express, or Citibank.
Can I book a stopover on a one-way flight?
Yes, Alaska Airlines allows you to book a stopover on a one-way flight.
What are the Alaska airline partners?
- American Airlines
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- EL AL Israel Airlines
- Fiji Airways
- Hainan Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Korean Air
- LATM Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
As you can tell, Alaska Airlines has some pretty amazing redemptions to offer. The only drawback to the program is that it can be difficult to accumulate miles outside of the Alaska credit cards. However, if you can rack up some miles then you have some of the best sweet spot redemptions to take advantage of along with low fees.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.