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Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone. For a full list of our advertisers, see our disclosure page.

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: How to Get the Most From Your Miles

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members can expect to get the best value for their miles if they're used on flights that cost more than $1,000. Travelers can also expect to get better value with first-class tickets on international flights. However, for domestic flights, coach tickets are the better value. Members who take advantage of free stopovers for flights booked with miles can also recoup great mile value.

Best Use of Alaska Airlines Miles

We sampled a variety of itineraries and found that the overall average value of an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan mile is $0.014, or 1.4 cents. However, Alaska Airlines customers can get different values for their miles depending on how they choose to use them. Below, we have provided an overview of what we found these miles to be worth in a variety of scenarios.

Award Ticket Type

Average Value
Coach1.4 cents
First Class1.4 cents
Domestic1.4 cents
International1.6 cents
Booked with Alaska Airlines1.3 cents
Booked with Airline Partner1.8 cents
Round Trip1.4 cents
One Way (with stopover)1.6 cents

Best Use of Alaska Airlines Miles: Flights Over $1,000

We found flight cost to be one of the best indicators for the value of miles. Miles used on flights that cost more than $1,000 were 48% more valuable than miles used for flights less than $500. Additionally, the best mile value came from the most expensive flight we examined.

Miles Value by Cost for Alaska Airlines

For international flights, first-class tickets offered much better value than coach tickets. Judging from the itineraries we gathered, international first- and business-class tickets were worth twice as much per mile as coach tickets. However, the outcome was reversed when it came to domestic flights. For these trips, coach tickets were nearly 30% better—in terms of value per mile—than first-class tickets, which offer below-average value.

Another great way to redeem Mileage Plan miles is to book flights with stopovers, as you won't be charged extra. Stopover flights can be more expensive, and some airline rewards programs charge additional miles for them. Keep in mind that while the miles charged may not increase, you might still see an increase in taxes and fees, especially for international flights. But when used correctly, you can effectively earn two trips for the price of one. For example, if you're planning a trip from Seattle to Rome, you may also be able to book a week long stopover in London for no additional cost in miles. While this can be a valuable benefit, it may be difficult to find these types of trips, as Alaska Airlines may black out certain dates or otherwise restrict access for certain flights of this type.

Mileage Plan miles can also be redeemed for magazine subscriptions through the Magazines for Miles program, which is a magazine and mileage plan partnership that is also available with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and others. Many of the subscriptions cost as little as 200 miles. This is a great way to redeem your rewards if you are an avid magazine reader, as it offers a value of 6.3 cents per mile compared to traditional subscription options. This is nearly 450% greater than the average value for miles used for flight redemption. Below we have provided some examples for magazine subscription offerings as well as the miles value.

Magazine

Number of IssuesCost in MilesMiles Value
Entertainment Weekly5020016.3 cents
Sports Illustrated3920014.2 cents
Health102005.9 cents
Time521,5002 cents

Redemptions You Should Avoid

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members should avoid paying with a combination of miles and cash. This program is called Money & Miles and is almost always a bad deal. With Money & Miles rewards, members will have the option to choose to pay 10,000 miles for a 50% discounted rate up to $100 or 20,000 miles for a 50% discounted rate up to $200. In both scenarios, you are effectively earning a maximum rate of 1 cent per mile. This is nearly 30% lower than the average value you get by booking a flight solely with miles.

Travelers should also not use their miles to purchase refundable tickets, which are available for an increased rate. You are better off buying a regular ticket and paying the $125 cancellation fee if you need to cancel your ticket, after which you will be refunded the miles spent. This is because the additional miles required to purchase a refundable ticket will almost always be worth more than $125. In situations where refundable tickets are the only option, customers will likely see reduced mile value.

One of the worst ways you can use your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles is on less expensive first-class tickets. While cheaper tickets generally offered lower value—judging from the itineraries we gathered—it is especially true for first-class tickets. Miles used on first-class tickets under $500 were valued at only 0.9 cents, 38% below the average mile value.

How to Use Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles can be used to book travel using Alaska Airlines' website or mobile app. Members can redeem their miles to pay for flights with Alaska Airlines and its partner airlines, which include:

  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM Airlines
  • PenAir
  • Qantas
  • Ravn Alaska
  • Singapore Airlines

In 2016, Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America. The airlines are transitioning to one unified brand under the Alaska Airlines name.

Cathay Pacific and LATAM, formerly known as LAN, can only be booked by calling Alaska Airlines reservations at (800)-252-7522. Flights booked over the phone are subject to a $15 fee. For each one-way flight you book using miles, you cannot travel with more than one Alaska Airlines partner.

Award travelers are allowed to book two stopovers and two open jaws per round-trip international itinerary. For example, you can fly from Boston to London with British Airways, spend a few days in London and then continue on to another British Airways destination such as Rome. On your way back to the U.S., you take a train from Rome to Madrid and depart from there. As you are not departing from your original destination, this is the first open jaw. You could also stop over again in London and then continue on to New York. Since you did not return to your original starting point of Boston, this would be the second open jaw.

For domestic award travel, stopovers are allowed—one for each one-way trip—for flights booked solely through Alaska Airlines. Keep in mind, though, that reward itineraries can only include at most one Alaska Airlines partner. For trips that may include more two or more partners, consider booking separate one-way tickets. Certain trips with stopovers may only be available when booked through an Alaska Airlines call center.

Alaska Airlines breaks down the number of miles you need to spend for a given flight by factors such as where you are traveling to, where you are traveling from, flight distance, class and whether a ticket is refundable. Mileage pricing is provided for each one-way ticket, and—for flights within the contiguous U.S.—can range from 5,000 miles to 60,000 miles. Below we have included the award chart for Alaska Airlines flights within the contiguous U.S. and Alaska:

ClassCost in Miles for Nonrefundable Ticket Each WayCost in Miles for Refundable Ticket Each Way
Trips Less than 700 miles
Coach5,000‒20,00030,000
First Class25,00060,000
Trips between 701 and 1,400 miles
Coach7,500‒20,00030,000
First Class25,00030,000
Trips between 1,401 and 2,100 miles
Coach10,000‒20,00030,000
First Class25,00030,000
Trips longer than 2,101 miles
Coach12,500‒20,00030,000
First Class25,00030,000

When a customer books a flight using their Mileage Plan miles, they are charged a nonrefundable fee of $5.60 per person each way. This is a security fee imposed for all flights that originate from a U.S. airport. For flights that do not originate from the U.S., travelers are not subject to this fee. Flights through Alaska Airlines partner airlines are accompanied by a $12.50 nonrefundable service fee for each person each way. Additional fees may also be added, as is the case with most international flights. However—with the exception of British Airways and Icelandair—Alaska Airlines generally does not apply surcharges for partner flights booked using miles.

Comments and Questions

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Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and American Express Cash Magnet℠ Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.