How to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles

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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the best rewards programs out there. Alaska operates outside of the major alliances (Star Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld), so it has formed its own partnerships with select airlines around the world. The result is that its miles are some of the most valuable on the market.

Taking advantage of your Alaska miles can earn you some sweet deals. In this article we’ll cover six ways to redeem your Alaska miles:

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

Book an award trip with Alaska or its partners

Of course, one of the best ways to make the most of your miles is to book an awards flight on Alaska Airlines or one of its partners. Alaska partners include:

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

Alaska has separate award charts for itself and each of its airline partners, but the airline’s award chart search tool is simple and intuitive. Here are just a few examples of Alaska award chart sweet spots.

Travel between the U.S. and Asia

There are a number of great options for travel between the U.S. and Asia.

For only 70,000 miles each way, you can get the luxurious first class Cathay Pacific experience on a long-distance flight. You can also get to Northern Asia in first class on Japan Airlines for the same price, or Southeast Asia for 5,000 miles more.

If you’re looking for an economy class ticket, it will only cost you 30,000 miles each way on Cathay Pacific, and you can even upgrade to premium economy for a mere 5,000 more miles.

Fly around North America

If you’re looking for shorter flights, Alaska has you covered as well since they offer tiered awards based on flight distance. You can score some super cheap flights within North America. Here are their tiers, with award prices listed for each:

Hop (distances less than 700 miles)

  • Main cabin: 5,000-30,000 miles.
  • First class: 15,000-40,000 miles.

Skip (distances between 701 and 1,400 miles)

  • Main cabin: 7,500-30,000 miles.
  • First class: 25,000-60,000 miles.

Jump (distances between 1,401 and 2,100 miles)

  • Main cabin: 10,000-40,000 miles.
  • First class: 25,000-60,000 miles.

Leap (distances longer than 2,101 miles)

  • Main cabin: 12,500-50,000 miles.
  • First class: 30,000-70,000 miles.

Include a free stopover

To maximize your rewards, be sure to utilize Alaska Airlines’ very generous stopover policy. Adding a stopover can extend your free award flight by giving you a couple of days or even weeks in a city en route to your final destination.

Stopovers are best used for international travel, such as flights from the U.S. to Asia or Europe. Booking a stopover flight is a little more complex than booking an ordinary flight. You’ll need to search for two different trips or use the multi-city option in Alaska’s online search.

» Learn more: Alaska cuts free stopovers on intra-Asia award tickets

Get a Money and Miles discount

If you book online, you can get a Money and Miles discount of up to 50% off most economy and first class fares. The maximum discount is $100 off the base fare for 10,000 miles or $200 off the base fare for 20,000 miles. You’ll also earn miles from flying.

Book hotels

You can also book hotels using your Alaska miles (or a combination of cash and miles). Alaska Mileage Plan’s network includes over 400,000 properties around the globe. It’s also worth noting here that Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card holders qualify for extra discounts on their bookings.

» Learn more: Alaska Airlines Credit Card review: Well worth $75 a year

Upgrade to first class

For 15,000 miles, you can upgrade to first class on eligible flights that you’ve paid for. Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you can redeem miles for first class by calling Alaska Airlines reservations at 800-252-7522.

You can also request an upgrade within 24 hours of your flight through online check-in or at the airport.

Gift, transfer or donate miles

You can gift your miles to help friends or family members. If you’re feeling truly generous, Alaska also offers a unique way to support important causes. You can donate your miles to one of the following organizations:

  • Alaska Airlines Disaster Relief Pool.
  • Alaska Airlines Miles for Youth.
  • Angel Flight West.
  • Dream Foundation.
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Foundation.
  • Hero Miles.
  • Make-a-Wish Foundation.
  • Medical Teams International.
  • National Forest Foundation.
  • The Nature Conservancy.
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital.
  • United Negro College Fund.

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 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
5 award sweet spots using Alaska airlines miles
Benefits of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program
Find the best airline credit card for you

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