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Buy Alaska Airlines Miles with a 40% Bonus. But why?

Alaska Mileage Plan is running another 'buy miles' bonus. Is it worth considering?

Alaska Air 737 (Alaska Air)

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.

AStrans

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

Partner Airlines

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.

JALbooking2
A one week ‘stopover’ in Tokyo, and a total of nearly 15 hours in business class, for just 25,000 Alaska miles + US$63

You’ll also be able to enjoy the excellent Qantas lounge at Changi, or the British Airways Singapore lounge prior to your flight, as well as the very nice JAL lounges in Tokyo on your way back.

JAL787SkySuite.jpg
JAL Sky Suite III. (Photo: Japan Airlines)

Other routings are possible too if they suit you better. Our latest Alaska redemption was a Bangkok to Tokyo flight in business with a 3-day stopover followed by a Tokyo to Singapore flight also in business class, for a total of 25,000 miles plus US$59.20.

We have to get ourselves to Bangkok in the first place, but that’s a nice excuse to check out the new Qatar lounge there before the JAL flight. Also we prefer to ‘position’ ourselves at the beginning of a trip, and then return direct to Singapore at the end. Just remember if you are going to do this to build in adequate contingency to get to the start point in good time.

How to book these routes

Just head to the Alaska Airlines website, at the booking area select ‘all search options’, then select ‘multi-city’ and of course ensure the ‘use miles’ option is selected.

After that simply enter each leg separately (e.g. Singapore to Tokyo for the first flight, Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur on the second flight), select the dates you want (your stopover in Tokyo can be as long as you like), then search to check award availability.

Other good value Alaska Mileage Plan redemptions

The JAL Intra-Asia itinerary with the stopover in Tokyo is a great example of the fantastic value you can get from Alaska miles, probably the best deal for those based in Singapore, however there are plenty of other good value options for these miles too.

Here are a few examples, with the Alaska mileage requirement shown alongside the equivalent for other popular frequent flyer programs.

Japan Airlines

AVIOStrans JALMBtrans AStrans
Singapore to New York
First Class*
200,000 85,000 75,000
Singapore to New York
Business Class
165,000 70,000 65,000

* – Business Class Singapore to Tokyo, First Class Tokyo to New York

JAL First Class (Japan Airlines)
JAL have one of the best first class products on the market. You can fly business from Singapore to Tokyo, have a free stopover if you wish, then enjoy a seat like this from Japan to the USA for 75,000 Alaska miles all-in. (Photo: Japan Airlines)

Cathay Pacific

AVIOStrans Asia AStrans
Singapore to Los Angeles
First Class
160,000 130,000 70,000
Singapore to Los Angeles
Business Class
135,000 85,000 50,000
Sydney to New York
First Class
200,000 130,000 80,000
Sydney to New York
Business Class
165,000 85,000 60,000
Vancouver to New York
First Class
50,000 40,000 35,000
CX A330 J
Business Class on the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330.

You can fly first class on Cathay Pacific from Singapore to Hong Kong, have a free stopover (if you wish), then continue first class from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, for 70,000 Alaska miles. The same trip in business class is 50,000 miles.

Cathay’s 4-class 777-300ER also operates a daily flight between Vancouver and New York (and vice-versa). Taking nearly 6 hours in each direction, it’s a great way to experience their first class product, and will only set you back 35,000 Alaska miles (compared with 40,000 Asia Miles or 50,000 Avios). The beauty of that flight – first class redemptions are usually easier to come by.

Korean Air

Oddly, Korean Air redemptions with Alaska miles are the same price for a one-way itinerary as they are for a return booking. This makes it logical to only use Korean for a round-trip redemption, but the mileage rate is pretty good. Korean first class is not available through Alaska Mileage Plan, so you’ll probably be looking at a business class redemption.

GAtrans KEskypasstrans AStrans
Singapore to Chicago
Business Class
200,000
(return)
150,000
(return)
120,000
(return)
KoreanBooking
A Korean Air business class redemption from Singapore to Chicago will cost you 120,000 Alaska miles whether you book a one way or a round-trip. So book a round-trip!

Qantas

AVIOStrans QFF AStrans
Sydney to Dallas
First Class
200,000 168,000 70,000
Sydney to Dallas
Business Class
165,000 112,000 55,000
Qantas A380 First (Qantas)
Qantas first class on the A380 isn’t groundbreaking compared with other airlines, but it’s a very comfortable way to fly from Australia to the USA for 70,000 Alaska miles. (Photo: Qantas)

First class redemptions on Qantas are really hard to come by, but you might get lucky and be able to fly to Los Angeles from Sydney or Melbourne, or to Dallas from Sydney, in their A380 first class seat for just 70,000 Alaska miles.

The same trip in business class is 55,000 miles. As usual, a stopover makes it an even sweeter deal – so you could start your journey in Perth for example, or even in Auckland, then stop for a few days in Sydney before continuing the journey – for the same miles rates.

Emirates

EKtrans2 EKtrans.png QFF AStrans
Singapore to New York
First Class
178,750 168,000 180,000
Singapore to New York
Business Class
131,250 112,000 105,000

No longer a ‘steal’ after the 2016 devaluation, Emirates award seats from Asia to the USA still aren’t terrible value using Alaska miles, especially in business class.

EKbooking
Business class from Singapore to New York with Emirates isn’t the best value Alaska miles redemption, but compares favourably to using Skywards miles or Qantas points.

Be aware

There are a few things to be aware of when booking partner redemptions with Alaska miles.

Firstly, the site