Have you ever flown on Alaska Airlines? Me neither. A little-known airline outside North America, they’re actually quite a big carrier. Following their merger with Virgin America in 2016, today they boast a fleet of 219 Airbus and Boeing aircraft flying predominantly across the west coast of the USA, Mexico, Hawaii and (duh!) Alaska.
|The Alaska ‘JAL stopover trick’|
They are also a Singapore Airlines partner airline, so you can earn KrisFlyer miles flying with Alaska Airlines, or redeem them if you want to fly on one of their flights.
This is all very interesting, but to many in Singapore it no doubt seems totally irrelevant. There’s a hidden gem though in this ‘little’ airline’s arsenal: Alaska Mileage Plan.
What is Alaska Mileage Plan?
No prizes for guessing that Mileage Plan is the Alaska Airlines loyalty program. Again the connection for Singapore-based miles hoarders seems distant, so let’s get to the crux of how this scheme can work for you. Alaska Mileage Plan:
- partners with 18 airlines around the world on which you can earn, but more importantly redeem your miles, including Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines
- does not impose fuel surcharges on redemption tickets
- has very attractive Intra-Asia award pricing, including a ‘stopover’ trick
- runs regular sales, during which you can purchase their miles at a discount
This page on the Alaska Air site shows partner airlines on which you can redeem Alaska miles, which as you’ll see later is the crux of this article and the real value proposition with this scheme. We think the most useful redemptions for most Singapore based travellers are:
- Japan Airlines – Intra-Asia and Asia to USA
- Cathay Pacific – Intra-Asia, Asia to USA / Canada, Australia to USA / Canada, Hong Kong to Europe / Australia / New Zealand / Middle East / India / Africa
- Korean Air – Asia to USA
- Qantas – Australia to USA
- Emirates – Asia to USA
The JAL stopover ‘trick’
Unlike many airline frequent flyer programs, with Alaska you can book stopovers on one-way redemption tickets. It’s a really good way of visiting two places during your trip without having to pay the extra miles normally associated with booking two stages of the journey separately.
What it also opens up is the ability to make a ‘pseudo return’ booking for a very low miles rate by booking a redemption to a close-by city, with a stopover in a distant one.
A good example is using Japan Airlines from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, with a stopover in Tokyo. Sounds like it shouldn’t be possible – but it is, and it’s incredible value at 25,000 Alaska Miles in business class (the equivalent of 12,500 miles for each 7 hour sector).
You can also experience JAL’s newest ‘Sky Suite III’ and ‘Sky Suite 787’ flat-bed products and excellent on-board service and cuisine with this routing. Granted you will have to make your own way back to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur at the end of the trip, but that’s no great hardship given how good a deal you’re getting.