Ask any travel and points-guru and they’ll tell you how much they love their Alaska Airlines miles. Not only can you redeem your Alaska miles to book award flights on some of the highest-rated airlines in the world, their routing and stopover rules are excellent.
Yep, every travel rewards program, such as Alaska’s Mileage Plan, has their own set of rules when it comes to getting from point A to point B. Alaska’s routing rules are insanely generous and let you squeeze out even more free-travel.
The first and most obvious is the fact that they allow one-way awards. I know this sounds like a given, and frankly should be, but not every reward program allows one-way award tickets. Others allow one-way flights, like Cathay’s Asia Miles, but charge additional for one-way redemptions.
You cannot mix partners on a single award, but you can add an Alaska Airlines leg without increasing the cost of the award flight. If you are flying San Diego to Tokyo on Japan Airlines, you can add a free leg from Sacramento to San Diego on Alaska Airlines before your Japan Airlines flight.
*Once the Alaska and Virgin America merger is complete, you will be able to add a Virgin flight as well. (which is great since they are based in two major international hubs, LAX and SFO)
Additionally, Alaska Airlines allows you to add-on one free stopover per direction. This perk applies to both domestic and international award redemptions. If you are flying from Spokane to San Francisco, you can add a free stop in Seattle or Portland. You could stop for 5 days in Seattle for no extra cost, two trips for the price of one.
Finally, you can fly open-jaw even on a one-way award flight. For example, you can fly Singapore to Tokyo, stay a week, then fly from Osaka to Taipei for just 15k Alaska miles (just 25k in business class). You would just need to get yourself from Tokyo to Osaka, likely by taking Japan’s high-speed rail. That is a total of 10 hours flight time plus you’d get to visit two cities in Japan for a week while on your way to Taipei. Not a bad redemption if you like flying and trying new airlines/seats.
One of the best redemptions ever!
If you are like me, flying is half the fun. Alyssa and I enjoy being with one another whether we are sitting in the front or back of the plane. When I found a way to fly for over 15 hours in business class using just 25,000 Alaska miles, you can bet I had to pull the trigger. Keep in mind, SPG points can be transferred to Alaska with a 5k bonus for every 20k moved over. That means you’d need just 20,000 SPG points for this 15 hour business class redemption, wow!
We are planning another around-the-world trip so this fits into our itinerary very nicely. For me, I am most interested in flying Japan Airlines new Sky Suite III seats installed on their 777-200ER aircraft. (our Singapore to Tokyo leg) These new seats launched on the Bangkok to Tokyo-Haneda route last year and has been slowly rolling out to other routes like Singapore and Honolulu. You can experience a virtual view of these new seats here.
Alaska’s partner award chart is very easy to peel-back. The huge sweet-spot is that Japan Airlines considers India to be “Southeast Asia” when redeeming your Alaska miles. At 15,000 one-way in economy, that is a heck of a deal from Asia to New Delhi, India. If you care to fly in business class, you’ll need just 25,000 Alaska miles for a one-way, but don’t forget the generous routing rules. We plugged in a 3 day stay in Tokyo on our way from Singapore to New Delhi.
In total we will be flying 15.5 hours (just shy of 7,000 miles) in Japan Airlines business class for 25k miles and $82 per person. For comparison, if you fly JAL business class from Los Angeles to Tokyo, you’ll need to redeem 60,000 Alaska miles one-way. That LAX to NRT flight is about 11.5 hours depending on the direction of travel. You can see how 25k miles for 15+ hours in JAL Sky Suite product is a great redemption for an aviation geek like myself.
Destinations & Booking
Japan Airlines has some good flight options throughout Asia. Using your Alaska miles you can fly to/from any of those displayed cities (while laying-over or stopping in Tokyo) for just 15,000 miles one-way in economy (or 25k in business).
On the Alaska Airlines home page, click “all search options” which will take you to the advanced search page allowing stopover or open-jaw bookings. Be sure to select “multi-city” and check the radio box “use miles”. You can then plug-in your “starting airport to Tokyo” > then for the second flight “Tokyo > ending airport”. Just select the dates for each flight and click “find flights”.
I ran into a snag
Alaska’s website DID show award availability for the flights I wanted, and so did British Airways. For some unexplained reason, it would not allow me to checkout and lock in the flights. I kept getting a “-1990” error on the checkout page after inputting contact/payment information.
I eventually gave up trying online and decided to call. The gal I spoke to at Alaska insisted that “it didn’t matter what showed on British Airways”. I didn’t want to get into the nuts and bolts so I explained to her that Alaskaair.com was indeed showing award space but it kept erroring out. After feeding her the flight numbers, she was able to lock in my flights.
Even though the Alaska site was breaking, she wanted to charge me a $15 phone booking fee, which is bullcrap. I gave her Alyssa’s Mileage Plan number, since she was recently status matched to MVP Gold 75k, which did waive the phone booking fee. (still dumb)
I used my Barclay Arrival Plus card to pay for the $164 in fees, so technically I will erase those fees with 16,400 Barclay points to make this redemption 100% free. Also, Alaska allows any flight to be changed or cancelled up to 60 days before departure, within 60 days of departure fees will be charged. Thanks to Alyssa’s MVP Gold 75k status we could cancel or change this flight for free at ANY time, no 60 day cutoff.
We are flying 7 hours from Singapore to Tokyo on a 777-200ER, spending a few days there, then flying 8.5 hours from Tokyo to New Delhi on a 787-800 V2 – for just 25,000 Alaska miles plus $82 per person in business class.
This is the same award cost when redeeming American Airlines miles for economy, however with Alaska miles we are doing it in business class. Note, American Airlines will not let you route from Asia region 2 (Singapore) to Asia region 1 (Tokyo) on your way to India, but for comparison you’d use 25,000 American miles one-way from Singapore to New Delhi in economy and 40,000 in business class.
If you like flying in business class and you’d take advantage of a free stopover in Tokyo, 25k Alaska miles and $82 makes this redemption hard to beat. If you want to give Japan Airline’s new Sky Suite III business class product a try, here are the routes for August 2017 and beyond: