16 Best Ways to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles

16 Best Ways to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Alaska Airlines miles have long been coveted as one of the best rewards currencies for scoring luxury flights on the cheap. The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program lets you take award trips to the other side of the globe in the world’s best first-class cabins, also adding free stopovers in top destinations.

But even if you fly domestic or prefer the economy cabin, you too can find good flight deals with Alaska miles to and from numerous locales. Plus, thanks to Alaska's long list of partner airlines, you can fly to just about any region in the world using your Alaska Airlines miles. So, where do you go?

With this guide, we’re helping you figure out the best ways to redeem your Alaska Airlines miles. We’ll cover how to earn and redeem Alaska Airlines miles, maximize their value and work around some of Alaska’s redemption rules.

The 16 best ways to redeem Alaska Airlines miles

With over 17 partner airlines available to you, Alaska Airlines miles are extremely versatile — but also an overwhelming feat to manage, as there are many available options for award tickets. We’ve done all the work for you and came up with a list of the best ways to redeem your Alaska Airlines miles.

1. Fly to Australia with a stopover in Fiji on Fiji Airways

This redemption is one of those dream trips that points maximizers target — and for good reason. By redeeming your miles with Alaska Airlines partner Fiji Airways, you can visit both Fiji and Australia for just 40,000 miles each way. Business class costs only 55,000 miles each way, though availability is much more limited.

Fly to Australia with a stopover in Fiji on Fiji Airways

Flights to Fiji depart from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO), and you can tack on an extra Alaska Airlines flight to the departure point for the same cost. To book this ticket, you'll need to conduct a multi-city search from your home airport to Nadi, Fiji (NAN), then to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane in Australia.

2. Fly business class to the Middle East with a full in-air bar on Emirates

If you're looking for a once-in-a-lifetime flight, set your sights on Emirates' A380 business class, which can get you to Dubai at a cost of 82,500 miles one-way. You’ll get a lie-flat seat in a spacious area with your own widescreen television and access to the business class lounge in Dubai’s airport.

Fly business class to the Middle East with a full in-air bar on Emirates

The real kicker, though, is something you're unlikely to find anywhere else — an onboard lounge with a full bar. You’ll also enjoy complimentary chauffeur service to and from the airport.

Photo courtesy of Emirates
Photo courtesy of Emirates.

3. First or business class to Asia with a stopover in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

Whether you prefer a getaway to Bali or a hike along the Great Wall of China, redeeming Alaska miles for a first-class flight on Cathay Pacific is an economical way to get to a number of Asian destinations in style — especially if you throw in a stopover in Hong Kong. The cherry on top? Cathay Pacific’s first-class lounges in the Hong Kong airport — The Wing and The Pier — are considered some of the finest airport lounges in the world.

First or business class to Asia with a stopover in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

Unfortunately, award availability to certain destinations is minimal on Cathay Pacific, and even more so in first class. If you can snag it, though, it's a great deal at just 70,000 miles each way. (If not, business class is only 50,000 miles, and economy is a mere 30,000 miles.)

Booking your award flight is a bit more tricky, though — since it's Cathay Pacific, you'll have to search for availability through British Airways, and once you find a flight you want to book, you can call Alaska at 800-252-7522 to book it.

4. First class to South Africa with a stopover in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

Getting to South Africa in first class could cost a small fortune — but if you have 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles to spare, that can get you a one-way ticket to Johannesburg with an optional stopover in Cathay Pacific's hub, Hong Kong.

First class to South Africa with a stopover in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

First class offers the best redemption value, but if you prefer something more budget-minded, you can also get there in business class for 62,500 miles each way or economy for 50,000 miles each way. Again, you'll have to search for availability on British Airways and call Alaska to book this flight.

5. First class to Australia or New Zealand with a stopover in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific's first class flights with a stopover in Hong Kong offer a range of destination options, and going all the way to Australia or New Zealand will squeeze a lot of value out of your miles.

First class to Australia or New Zealand with a stopover in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

You'll need 80,000 miles each way for this flight, or you can do business class for 60,000 miles and economy for 40,000 miles, which are also a steal. There aren't many rewards programs left that can get you from the U.S. to Australia for 80,000 miles round-trip, much less with a free stopover.

Photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific
Photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific.

6. Business class from New York to Vancouver on Cathay Pacific

While Cathay Pacific's business class cabin doesn't include an in-air lounge and bar like Emirates, it's still one of the more luxurious travel options.

Business class from New York to Vancouver on Cathay Pacific

Using your Alaska miles, you can book a flight from New York to Vancouver in business class for just 25,000 miles each way on Cathay Pacific. This’ll give you six hours to enjoy world-class dining and some excellent champagne while on board.

7. Economy, business or first class to Australia or New Zealand on Qantas

One of the best deals on business class flights to Australia or New Zealand — using Alaska Airlines miles while flying Qantas — will only cost you 55,000 miles each way. For economy class, you'll just need 42,500 miles each way (and while you can book first class for 70,000 miles each way, it's nearly impossible to find award availability).

Economy, business or first class to Australia or New Zealand on Qantas

The best part of this deal is that because Sydney is Qantas' hub, you can book a stopover in Sydney and then continue to Auckland, fitting both Australia and New Zealand in for one flight price.

8. Business or first class to Asia with a stopover in Tokyo on Japan Airlines

If you want to combine two major Asian cities in one, redeeming your miles with Japan Airlines is a great option. You can choose a stopover in Tokyo and take a business or first class award flight to cities in northern Asia like Shanghai and Seoul. While availability may be limited, first class is the best deal at 70,000 miles each way. Still, at 60,000 miles for a business class ticket or 35,000 miles for an economy ticket, these can be fantastic options if you want a stopover in Tokyo.

Business or first class to Asia with a stopover in Tokyo on Japan Airlines

For an extra 5,000 miles, you can plan a stopover in Tokyo and head to a Southeast Asian destination, such as Bangkok, Hanoi or Manila. If you're looking to end your trip on a tropical beach, this is the way to do it.

Photo courtesy of Japan Airlines
Photo courtesy of Japan Airlines

9. Business class to Peru on American Airlines

American Airlines offers a great business class deal to Lima, Peru, for just 30,000 miles each way and minimal surcharges. Flights depart from Miami, though you can add on American Airlines flights from your home airport to Miami for no additional cost. Economy is only 20,000 each way if you want to save some miles, although award availability is more limited.

Business class to Peru on American Airlines

10. Business class to South America on LATAM

While you can also fly to Argentina or Chile with American Airlines for 57,500 miles each way in business class, LATAM offers a better deal at just 45,000 miles each way. If you go during off-peak season, you could also get a coach flight for 25,000 miles each way.

Business class to South America on LATAM

Unlike American Airlines, LATAM charges the same amount of miles regardless of where you're going in South America. This makes it a better deal for flights to countries in the southern regions of South America, whereas American Airlines is often preferable for flights to northern areas of South America. Like Cathay Pacific, you'll have to book award flights on LATAM over the phone by calling Alaska.

The best part about booking LATAM is the ability to add a stopover, which means you can book a whole South American adventure for the price of one award ticket. Stop in Peru to climb Machu Picchu before heading over to Buenos Aires to learn tango — then on your way back, do a stopover in Chile so you can explore Patagonia.

11. Economy class to Europe on Finnair

For 30,000 miles each way, you can fly economy to Europe on Finnair. This option is best for the budget-conscious traveler, as there are minimal taxes and fees to book this ticket.

Economy class to Europe on Finnair

And if you’re in the mood for more adventure, Alaska's stopover policy makes this redemption even more worthwhile. You could even sneak in a trip to Iceland on your way back — perhaps after enjoying a grand tour of Scandinavia.

12. Fly to Europe during off-peak months on American Airlines

For folks who prefer quantity over quality when it comes to flights, you can make your miles stretch even further by booking economy flights to Europe on American Airlines during off-peak months. A one-way flight to Europe in economy costs 22,500 miles during off-peak season and could be incredibly hard to beat.

Fly to Europe during off-peak months on American Airlines

British Airways, the other major Alaska Airlines partner with ample flights to Europe, charges 32,500 miles each way year-round. Meanwhile, the fees on American Airlines flights to Europe are minimal (think $19), whereas British Airways is notorious for fuel surcharges that add up to hundreds of dollars.

13. Fly short and medium-haul domestic flights on Alaska

Domestic redemptions on Alaska Airlines charge by distance rather than charging a flat rate for flights within all the contiguous states. Their "Hop" (fewer than 700 miles), "Skip" (701 to 1,400) and "Jump" (1,401 to 2,100 miles) flights can be a better deal than redeeming miles through other loyalty programs.

Fly short and medium-haul domestic flights on Alaska

For example, a flight between Portland, Ore. and San Francisco (a 550 mile distance) would cost as little as 5,000 miles in economy each way, and a flight between San Francisco and Chicago (a distance of 1,841 miles) would start at a cost of 10,000 miles each way.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines
Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

14. Fly economy to Hawaii from the East Coast

Using Alaska Airlines miles for a flight to Hawaii isn't a bad option, especially if you're flying from the East Coast. While other airlines will charge you more to fly to Hawaii from New York than from Los Angeles, Alaska charges the same amount regardless of your origin within the United States.

Fly economy to Hawaii from the East Coast

It'll cost you just 15,000 miles each way to fly from the contiguous U.S. (or Alaska) to Hawaii. The best way to do this trip is to book a stopover along the way — perhaps consider making a brief West Coast visit on your way to Honolulu.

15. Visit four cities for the price of one

With any of these high-value redemptions, you can add in two stopovers to visit three cities altogether. And if you've really got the travel bug, try booking two one-way tickets, each with a different stopover and an open jaw (meaning the departure city is in two different airports), for a grand total of four cities on one award ticket.

Visit four cities for the price of one
Visit four cities for the price of one

For example, you could book a one-way Fiji Airways flight to Melbourne with a stopover in Fiji, make your way from Melbourne to Sydney, and then fly home from Sydney on Cathay Pacific with a stopover in Hong Kong.

16. Book a long stopover at your home airport for a free one-way flight

Here's a tricky way to use stopovers to your advantage to effectively get multiple flights for the price of one: Let's say you book a Fiji Airways flight from your home in New York to Sydney with a stopover in Fiji, but on the way back you want to go straight home. However, you have a trip to Los Angeles coming up a few months after you get home. Book the return flight to Los Angeles with a several-month stopover in your home city of New York, and you've just scored yourself a free one-way for your upcoming Los Angeles trip.

Book a long stopover at your home airport for a free one-way flight

What are Alaska Airlines miles worth?

We estimate a single Alaska Airlines MileagePlan mile to be worth approximately 1.5 cents each, but this is mainly dependent on the itinerary and other factors. This value is above average compared to other airline programs, as we’ve found the average airline mile is worth 1.3 cents each.

Redeeming your Alaska Airlines miles is also much easier than some other airline loyalty programs, thanks to its award charts and range of partner airlines. Redemptions start at just 5,000 miles, and we found that you'll gain an excellent value from booking business or first-class award tickets on international airlines.

Value: Above average

Ease of redeeming: Above average

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The best credit cards for earning Alaska Airlines miles

If you're looking to boost your Alaska miles with a credit card, these picks let you earn Alaska miles (or points that transfer into the MileagePlan program), plus the most valuable welcome offers and rewards rates.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Welcome offer50,000 bonus miles with this special offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.60,000 Bonus miles when you make at least $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.Earn 3 Free Nights after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card!Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 of eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Rewards rateEarn 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.Earn up to 17X total points for every $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™ and 2X points on all other purchases.6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
Annual fee$75$50 for the company and $25 per card$95$125
Read reviewRead reviewRead review

Alaska Airlines partners

Alaska Airlines has a generous list of airline partners, where the best value award redemption options can often be found. The following airlines all offer flights that can be booked using Alaska Airlines miles:

  • Aer Lingus
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • EL AL Israel Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines (award tickets temporarily paused due to the pandemic)

How many Alaska Airlines miles do you need for a free flight?

Alaska Airlines makes figuring out how many miles you'll need for an award ticket understandable, even if you're planning to book with one of their airline partners. If you're flying domestically with Alaska Airlines, their distance-based award chart has four levels: Hop, Skip, Jump and Leap.

Domestic level
Distance
Cost in miles
Hop700 miles or fewerMain cabin: 5,000-30,000 miles

First class: 15,000-40,000 miles

Skip701 to 1,400 miles

Main cabin: 7,500-30,000 miles

First class: 25,000-60,000 miles

Jump1,401 to 2,100 milesMain cabin: 10,000-40,000 miles

First class: 25,000-60,000 miles

Leap

2,101 miles or more

Main cabin: 12,500-50,000 miles

First class: 30,000-70,000 miles

Based on the chart above, Alaska Airlines offers terrific value with flights starting at just 5,000 miles one-way for economy and ranging up to 70,000 for first class on long-haul flights. Taxes start at just $5.60 one-way.

If you're flying internationally, Alaska Airlines clearly delineates its award charts between all of its partner airlines. You can search for award flights on all of Alaska's airline partners except for Cathay Pacific and LATAM, both of which must be booked directly with Alaska Airlines over the phone.

Earning and redeeming Alaska Airlines miles on American Airlines AAdvantage

On March 31, 2021, Alaska Airlines will fully become a part of the oneworld alliance, meaning you can earn Alaska miles on all oneworld airlines. You can already earn Alaska Airlines miles on all American Airlines flights — both domestic and international. On top of Alaska's existing airline partnerships, flying oneworld airlines can be an excellent way to accrue those hard-to-earn Alaska miles.

Redeeming your Alaska Airlines miles for American Airlines flights is straightforward, as you'll conduct your search like you're booking any other award ticket on Alaska Airlines' website.

Earning and redeeming Alaska Airlines miles on American Airlines AAdvantage

The search process will be the same when booking award tickets on any oneworld partners. With 13 global airlines to choose from, there's no shortage of availability with your Alaska Airlines miles.

Rules and fees when redeeming Alaska Airlines miles

Like any loyalty program, there are several quirks to the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. In this section, we'll go over the essential rules and fees to keep in mind when booking award tickets on Alaska Airlines.

You're allowed one stopover on each one-way ticket, with some caveats.

The stopover allowance is one of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan's most exciting features. On each one-way ticket, you're allowed to include one stopover, with no limit to how long you stay. Round-trip tickets with two stopovers or one-way tickets with one stopover must be booked through an Alaska Airlines call center and are subject to booking fees.

The major caveat here is that if you're booking with a partner airline, the stopover must be in one of their hubs. Still, booking two stopovers on a round-trip ticket gets you three cities for the price of one.

You can only book with one partner airline per award flight.

You can't mix multiple partner airlines on one award ticket. For example, if you wanted to book British Airways from New York to London and then Icelandair from London to Iceland, you'd have to book and pay for two separate award tickets. However, flying Alaska Airlines domestically to get to a departure point for a partner airline does count as one award ticket — this means that you could book a flight from Houston to Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines and then Los Angeles to Fiji on Fiji Airways for the price of one award flight.

Taxes and fees

Alaska Airlines charges a partner booking fee of $12.50 and a call center fee of $15. You only have to pay the call center fee if you reserve your flight over the phone instead of online, but there are some award flights in which redeeming by phone is the only option.

How to book an award flight with Alaska Airlines miles

For the most part, booking award flights with Alaska miles is simple and can be done online.

Booking flights with Alaska Airlines and most partner airlines

Unless you're booking a flight with Cathay Pacific or LATAM, you can book award flights with any Alaska Airlines partner or with Alaska Airlines by following the steps below.

Booking flights with Alaska Airlines and most partner airlines
  1. Visit alaskaair.com.
  2. In the booking window on the homepage, select "Use miles."
  3. Search for the flight you want and click "Find flights."
  4. Select your flight and add it to your cart.
  5. Follow the checkout process to complete your order.

Booking flights with Cathay Pacific and LATAM

If you want to book an award flight with Cathay Pacific or LATAM, you'll need to first search for award availability on BritishAirways.com, then call Alaska Airlines at 800-252-7522 and book your flight over the phone. Keep in mind that this will result in a $15 phone booking fee in addition to the $12.50 partner airline booking fee.

Booking flights with a stopover

To book flights with a stopover, you'll need to conduct a multi-city search. Follow the steps above for booking flights with Alaska Airlines and partners, but during step two, click on "All search options" in the booking window instead. This will take you to a window that expands your search for multi-city trips.

Here, we answer some common questions about redeeming your Alaska Airlines miles.

Do Alaska Airlines miles expire?

Yes. If you do not have any account activity for two years, your MileagePlan account will expire, and you’ll lose your miles.

How do you use Alaska Airlines miles?

You can redeem your Alaska Airlines miles to book award tickets on Alaska Airlines and their partner airlines, first-class upgrades, hotels on Alaska Airlines Hotels or magazine subscriptions. You can also share, donate or gift your Alaska Airlines miles.

Can you buy miles on Alaska Airlines?

Yes. While we generally advise against buying airline miles, Alaska Airlines often has promotions if you choose to buy miles. This can be a great option if you need to top off your balance to score a dream redemption.

Can you use American Airlines miles on Alaska Airlines?

Yes. You can book award tickets on American Airlines' website using your AAdvantage miles to book Alaska Airlines flights.

Can Alaska Airlines miles be transferred?

Yes. However, you'll be subject to a $10 fee for every 1,000 miles you transfer to another account. In most cases, we advise against transferring your miles to another person.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan gives you a multitude of options for award redemptions between its long list of partners and stopover policy — plus, there are many business and first-class options on some very opulent airlines. It's not hard to see why so many points and miles fanatics stockpile Alaska miles.

The information related to Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).