Annual companion ticket. Receive an annual coach Companion Fare from $121 (USD) ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees, from $22 depending on your Alaska Airlines flight itinerary).
Lots of partners. You can use Alaska miles to fly on many airlines, including American, Delta, Cathay Pacific, Air France, and more.
Annual fee. The first year annual fee is not waived like it is with some other airline credit cards.
Alaska Airlines has steadily grown to be a major airline in the U.S.
If you are on the West Coast, there are a wide range of flights to various destinations throughout the U.S. and beyond. Alaska Airlines miles can also be used to book flights on partner airlines with generous rewards flight options.
Let’s look at the best U.S. rewards, and then go through a few of the best international routes on reward partners using your Alaska Airlines miles.
Though Alaska Airlines does fly throughout the U.S., the most favorable flight options are to/from Alaska itself, and up and down the west coast of the lower 48 states. There are also some great flight options to Hawaii from the west coast, as well as to Canada and Mexico.
For example, using the bonus miles from the Alaska Airlines Visa card, you could take a nice 4-day trip from Seattle to San Diego in December to get some sunshine. Or for even more warmth and fun, you could extend that trip down to Los Cabos for only 35.000 miles.
If you are not on the west coast and need more domestic flight options, Alaska Airlines partners with many other airlines that you can use your miles on, including American Airlines and Delta Airlines. You can view the entire Continental U.S. and Canada award chart here.
One of the most useful redemption options for your Alaska Airline miles is booking a rewards flight to Hawaii. You can book your flights through AlaskaAir.com, with great availability. Coach flights are only 40,000 miles round-trip, but the only direct flights come from the west coast, all others require a transfer. Check out the awards chart here.
If you decide to use your companion pass, you can save hundreds of dollars on your second ticket (first ticket must be purchased, cannot use miles with companion pass). When my wife and I first signed up for this card, this was our sole reason to sign up. As soon as our companion pass was available, we booked last-minute tickets to Maui from Seattle. Because of the last-minute booking, our first ticket was just under $600, but the companion fare came out to about $120. We save $480 within a month of signing up for the card. Not bad!
Some of the best redemptions that Alaska offers is booking international flights on partner airlines. We’ll cover a few of them below, but you can find all awards redemption options using the charts below.
|Aeromexico||Cathay Pacific||Hainan Airlines||PenAir|
|American||Emirates||Korean Air||Ravn Alaska (formerly Era)|
|British Airways||Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific)||LAN|
One thing to keep in mind is that you CANNOT mix partners on the same itinerary. So all flights within your booking must be the same carrier (except Alaska can be one of the legs). This is important to remember when booking partner flights with your miles.
One of the most exciting redemptions for your Alaska miles is flying in luxury on Cathay Pacific airlines. Here are the First Class award redemption options using your Alaska miles.
Some of these flights can be upwards of 20 hours long, so why not book it using miles and get the pampering of a lifetime. Lie-flat seats, fine dining and endless personal entertainment built right into your seat, I find this to be an incredible redemption option. You can find more details on the First Class experience here.
When booking these awards, keep in mind you cannot book through Alaska’s website, you have to call them directly. There is an additional fee for this booking of $12.50 each way. It is recommended you check for flight availability before calling so you can give the Alaska operator exact details to make it easier and quicker for them to book the right reward. You can find flight options if you sign up for British Airways Executive Club (free), and using their award booking tool. Any of the flights that show “Cathay Pacific” should be able to be booked using your Alaska Airline miles when you call them.
Alaska has some of the most generous award routing rules around, allowing one stopover (stay of more than 24 hours on an international itinerary) per one-way flight, and two stopovers and two opens jaws (depart from different location than your arrived at) per round-trip international itinerary. This makes for some amazing vacation planning, with tons of flexibility to stretch your stays and change your departure destinations. It also means you won’t be spending extra miles for these extra flights, as long as the stopover follows logical routing to the final destination (i.e. not flying East the back West to final destination).
Below are two examples of how to take advantage of these rules and plan a flexible trip.
Fly from New York, stopover in Dubai for a few weeks, then continue on to Mumbai. You can take both legs on First Class using Cathay Pacific for only 70,000 miles each way!
Want to see Europe? Fly from Boston to Paris, stay for 3 weeks to take in all the sights, then continue on to Rome. Tour your way through Italy, making your way to Milan, where you eventually fly out of back to Boston. Total cost flying economy? ONLY 40,000 MILES!
There are a few comparable cards that offer travel redemption options as well, let’s see how the Alaska Card stacks up.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus MasterCard – This card earns 2x points on everything you purchase and the redemptions are simple, as they are just statement credits against any travel-related purchases. This means you can choose any airline or hotel and use the points to pay for it. The downside is your point value is locked in a $.01 per mile, which is only average. Most valuations give Alaska $.02 per mile for most redemptions, giving it twice the value.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa – Chase is similar in that you can redeem points for statement credits, but it has MAJOR value in its transfer partners. You can transfer points to Southwest and British Airways, as well as Hyatt hotels, and others. There are some GREAT options here, especially at some of the top end Hyatt hotels. Some of these rooms can go for over $1,000 per night, and only cost a max of 30,000 points for a standard room. Chase points are valued around $.02 per point, putting them on par with Alaska miles. But if you’re looking for hotel rewards, choose Chase.
The Alaska Airlines rewards program is one of a kind, with great domestic and international redemption options. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card allows you to jump in with a 30,000 mile bonus AND companion pass to take advantage of these flight options. If you’re looking for a card with flexible rewards and great perks, it’s a great way to get started.
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