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You can now book Singapore Airlines award seats using Alaska miles

It took them two years, but Alaska Airlines has finally launched redemptions using Alaska miles on Singapore Airlines flights, including in long-haul Suites, First and Business Class cabins

SQ A380 (Aero Icarus)

As most of our readers will know, Singapore Airlines has a longstanding partnership with US carrier Alaska Airlines. That wasn’t actually ‘intentional’. In fact, SIA forged an alliance with (the largely forgotten) Virgin America way back in December 2012.

When Virgin was later bought by (and amalgamated into) Alaska Airlines, a new expanded partnership was announced between SIA and their new Seattle-based buddies, covering both former Virgin America flights and Alaska Airlines ones – taking effect in August 2017.

VX A320 (Eddie Maloney).jpg
SIA’s partnership with Alaska Airlines actually dates back to its relationship with a predecessor – Virgin America. (Photo: Eddie Maloney)

Back then the agreement covered codesharing and reciprocal miles earning between the two carriers, with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer members able to redeem on all Alaska Airlines services.

Alaska Mileage Plan members, however, were told they would be able to redeem miles for Singapore Airlines flights “at a later date”.

Now we know “later” meant… “two years later”

Yesterday Alaska Mileage Plan finally launched Singapore Airlines redemptions using Alaska miles. Was it worth the wait?

The basics

Before we get into the details, here’s a rundown of the basic principles to be aware of, if you’re thinking of using your Alaska miles to redeem a Singapore Airlines flight.

  • Only specific zone-to-zone awards on Singapore Airlines are available using Alaska miles.
  • Online search and booking is available through the Alaska Airlines website.
  • SIA’s long-haul Business Class seats are available to Alaska Airlines members.
  • SIA’s long-haul First Class seats and Suites are available for some zone combinations to Alaska Airlines members.
  • Premium Economy redemptions on Singapore Airlines flights are not available using Alaska miles.
  • SilkAir flights are not available using Alaska miles.
Alaska Air 737 (Alaska Air).jpg
(Photo: Alaska Airlines)

Long-haul premium cabins are available

One of the biggest bits of news here is that Singapore Airlines is not currently restricting its long-haul Business Class and new Regional Business Class seats for award redemption using Alaska miles. It isn’t even restricting its First Class or Suites products on many routes, including Auckland.

That might be an initial system issue, with restrictions to be enforced later, or it might be a permanent arrangement.

Worth bearing in mind here that the “no long-haul Business” restriction to partners (especially Star Alliance partners) isn’t strictly true. Lufthansa Miles & More members get plenty of access to SIA’s latest Business Class seats, for example, especially on Europe and Australia routes.

11A span small.jpg
Lufthansa Miles & More members can access selected award inventory in SIA’s long-haul Business Class cabins. So can Alaska members, for now at least. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

It remains to be seen whether the generous allocation of SIA’s long-haul grade Business and First Class seats to Alaska Airlines members is here to stay, or a glitch to be ironed out.

Zone combinations

Partner awards using Alaska miles are based on zone combinations. You can see the award charts and alter the zone combinations yourself to see which partners you can redeem on which routes at the Alaska website here.

Before you get too excited by some of the award chart pricing, the actual rates appearing for example bookings don’t always match the charts, so Alaska might not have finalised the award chart pricing. Expect some tweaks to come.

In summary these are the combinations applicable for redemptions on Singapore Airlines:

Intra SE Asia

South East Asia, as far as Alaska is concerned, covers all the countries you’d expect in the region, plus China. Japan and South Korea are in North Asia, so don’t fall into this zone.

Class AStrans.png KF Logo trans.png Difference
Economy 17,500 7,500 to
20,000
+133% to
-13%
Business 25,000 19,000 to
39,000
+32% to
-36%
First / Suites 35,000 27,500 to
53,000
+27% to
-34%

As you can see because this is one big zone on the Alaska chart, but five zones on the KrisFlyer chart, Alaska miles aren’t giving you any saving at the bottom end. For example close-in flights to Bali, Jakarta and Bangkok will all come out needing fewer miles using KrisFlyer.

At the more distant end though, specifically China (Beijing and Shanghai), there are savings in all cabins, up to 36% in Business Class where Alaska’s 25,000 miles rate compares favourably to KrisFlyer’s 39,000 miles.

SIN to N Asia Example.jpg
Beijing is good value in Business Class and First Class (including Suites) using Alaska at 25,000 miles and 35,000 miles respectively

First Class and Suites redemptions are also competitive (SQ802 above is a 2006 Suites cabin).

SE Asia to/from N Asia

North Asia only includes Japan and South Korea on the Alaska chart.

Class AStrans.png KF Logo trans.png Difference
Economy 22,500 25,000 -10%
Business 60,000 47,000 +28%
First / Suites 75,000 70,000 +7%

Not much value here, in fact practically none at all with KrisFlyer offering better rates in all but Economy Class for Japan and South Korea flights to and from Singapore.

Alaska miles using JAL still provide the best value here, even if you don’t use the stopover trick for your “free return” flight.

SIN ICN Example.jpg
JAL still rules using Alaska miles on Japan and South Korea flights

SE Asia (excl. China) to/from the USA

Class AStrans.png KF Logo trans.png Difference
Economy 47,500 38,000 to
40,000
+25% to
+19%
Business 100,000 95,000 to
99,000
+5% to
+1%
First / Suites 130,000 130,000 to
132,000
+0% to
-2%

There’s really no saving to be had flying between SE Asia and the USA, with rates broadly comparable to KrisFlyer. Cathay Pacific Business and First Class redemption rates using Alaska miles are much better value for USA redemptions, as are JAL rates.

N Asia to/from the USA

This covers SIA’s daily Tokyo-Narita to Los Angeles flight.

Class AStrans.png KF Logo trans.png Difference
Economy 40,000 35,000 +14%
Business 80,000 92,000 -13%
First / Suites 110,000 107,000 +3%

Depending on how you accrue Alaska miles (most of our readers have to buy them), a Business Class redemption on this route might make more sense under that scheme than using KrisFlyer miles.

SE Asia (excl. China) to/from South Pacific

South Pacific covers SIA’s Australia and New Zealand flights in the Alaska award chart. Here’s how the miles rates look to and from Singapore and most surrounding SE Asia cities.

Class AStrans.png KF Logo trans.png Difference
Economy 30,000 20,000 to
28,000
+50% to
+7%
Business 65,000 36,500 to
62,000
+78% to
+4%
First / Suites 90,000 85,000 +6%

You won’t want to be using Alaska miles to fly between Singapore and Australia / New Zealand, with a higher rate applicable compared to KrisFlyer on all routes. That’s especially so on Perth, a separate (cheaper) redemption zone for KrisFlyer members.

SIN SYD Example.jpg
Using Alaska miles between Singapore and Sydney is not good value

First Class and Suites to and from Sydney and Melbourne are completely blocked out to Alaska miles members, with no availability in either direction throughout the year, but Auckland in A380 Suites is available.

SIN AKL Example.jpg
Auckland is the only South Pacific route where First (in this case Suites) awards seem to be available using Alaska miles. You still won’t want to do this at 90k each way though.

China to/from South Pacific

The one place you can find value over KrisFlyer using Alaska miles to and from Australia and New Zealand is, as you may have guessed, China.

Here’s how the miles rates look if you fly to or from the South Pacific and start or end your journey in Beijing or Shanghai.

Class AStrans.png KF Logo trans.png Difference
Economy 30,000 30,000 to
38,000
+0% to
-21%
Business 65,000 57,000 to
84,000
+14% to
-23%
First / Suites 90,000 106,000 -15%

Those lower KrisFlyer rates for Perth flights still win over Alaska miles, but now we can see that for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland etc… you can make a good saving using Alaska miles if you’re heading all the way to or from China, with Business Class at 65,000 miles rather than the 84,000 miles KrisFlyer is charging.

MEL PVG Example
Melbourne to Shanghai in Business Class would be 84,000 KrisFlyer miles, but comes in at 65,000 Alaska miles

SE Asia to/from India

This is a strange one as the Alaska chart quotes very competitive rates, but when you proceed to book the rates are much higher (and not competitive at all).

Class AStrans.png KF Logo trans.png Difference
Economy 17,500
25,000
18,500 +35%
Business 25,000
65,000
39,000 +67%
First / Suites 35,000
90,000
53,000 +70%

Unless the rates get later corrected to those published on the chart, these are terrible value awards compared to using KrisFlyer miles.

SE Asia to/from the Middle East

This one appears in the Alaska chart at 25,000 miles in Economy, 65,000 in Business and 85,000 in First.

Theoretically it would include Singapore Airlines flights to and from Dubai and Istanbul, however there is no availability loaded on any flight. Even if there was, these rates compare poorly to the KrisFlyer levels of 25k, 49k and 75k respectively for the three cabin classes.

SE Asia and N Asia to/from Europe

Like the Middle East zone, we can’t find any availability using Alaska miles to or from Europe. Rates are not competitive anyway compared to KrisFlyer, even if there was some award space loaded.

SE Asia and N Asia to/from Africa

Again poor rates apply for these zone combinations, which would involve SIA flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town, and there is no availability loaded so it doesn’t even seem possible.

Fifth freedom routes

Note that there is no option to use Alaska miles on some of Singapore Airlines’ fifth freedom routes, such as Moscow to/from Stockholm (i.e. intra-Europe), Manchester to/from Houston or Frankfurt to/from New York (i.e. Europe to/from the USA).

It is possible however to redeem Hong Kong to/from San Francisco, Tokyo to/from Los Angeles and Singapore to/from Frankfurt as these routes fall under the applicable award zone combinations listed above.

The exception there of course remains Frankfurt, as we found no flights loaded for the SE Asia to Europe zone combination, so it’s a moot point.

A new stopover ‘trick’

Most of our readers will be familiar with the JAL stopover ‘trick’ using Alaska miles, a pseudo-return Business Class flight from Singapore to Tokyo for 25,000 miles with minimal taxes.

Since the Alaska Mileage Plan programme permits stopovers on one-way award tickets, with backtracking permitted, the new Singapore Airlines redemption partnership opens up similar opportunities using Singapore as a ‘stopover’ city.

Our regular readers will know that Singapore Airlines also offers a US$100 stopover option on a one-way saver award, but in many cases this Alaska miles deal comes out well on top in value terms.

For example if you are taking a trip to Shanghai and then another trip later in the year to Bali both in Business Class, you can already save miles using the KrisFlyer stopover, rather than redeeming:

  • SIN-PVG-SIN: 78,000 miles
  • SIN-DPS-SIN: 38,000 miles
  • Total: 116,000 miles

Instead using a US$100 stopover in the middle as follows:

  • SIN-PVG: 39,000 miles
  • PVG-SIN-DPS: 39,000 miles (stopover in SIN)
  • DPS-SIN: 19,000 miles
  • Total: 97,000 miles

This saves you 19,000 miles, but will cost you an extra US$100 for the stopover in Singapore (which can be up to a year, read our article for full details).

Now there’s a very nice Alaska option on this itinerary.

  • SIN-PVG: 25,000 miles
  • PVG-SIN-DPS: 25,000 miles (stopover in SIN)
  • DPS-SIN: 25,000 miles
  • Total: 75,000 miles
PVG DPS Example.jpg
Shanghai to Singapore in March 2020, continuing to Bali in June 2020, for 25,000 Alaska miles in Business Class

Furthermore, the stopover with Alaska is free, saving you that US$100 fee imposed by KrisFlyer. Even better, use 19,000 KrisFlyer miles instead for the final DPS-SIN flight and you’ll save another 6,000 miles, bringing your total for this itinerary in at 69,000 miles (50,000 Alaska + 19,000 KrisFlyer).

PVG DPS Aircraft.jpg
These flights have the latest A380 2017 Business Class and 787-10 2018 Regional Business Class seats installed

Given this plan was starting at 116,000 miles before we used any ‘tricks’, that’s a great saving and fantastic value for two trips in SIA’s latest Business Class seats.

PVG DPS Map.jpg
Two great holidays in Business Class, one low price – 50,000 Alaska miles + 19,000 KrisFlyer miles

How to do it

You’ll have to be using the Alaska desktop site to get a stopover to work, the mobile app doesn’t currently support it.

At the main search page, click ‘All search options’.

Stopover How 1.jpg

Then you’ll need to select ‘Multi-city’ and tick the ‘Use miles’ box, followed by adding your two flight sectors both in the ‘Departing flight’ section (leave the ‘Returning flight’ section blank).

Stopover How 2.jpg

Click find flights and the search results should appear. Do be aware that just because a price appears, not all sectors will necessarily be in the displayed cabin class. You’ll pay the rate for the higher cabin, even if one sector is in a lower cabin.

Mixed Warning.jpg

The site does warn you of this when you select the rate.

Another good example

Take a Shanghai and a Hong Kong trip at different times of year in First Class. You can book Shanghai to Hong Kong with a stopover in Singapore for 35,000 Alaska miles, at completely different times of year.

HKG to PVG via SIN Example.jpg

This example is HKG-SIN in November 2019 and then SIN-PVG in May next year. Better still, it’s the latest A380 2017 Suites cabin on both flights.

HKG to PVG via SIN Aircraft.jpg
New A380 Suites for over 9 hours

Not only does this get you both a 4h and 5h 20m flight in the latest Suites cabin (over 9 hours in total), you’ll have access to the SilverKris First Class lounge in Hong Kong prior to your first flight, The Private Room in Changi on arrival for dinner, then The Private Room again on departure to Shanghai next year for breakfast.

Booked via KrisFlyer, these two flights would cost you 93,500 miles.

HKG to PVG via SIN Map.jpg

Of course this itinerary leaves you having to get to Hong Kong in the first place and back from Shanghai at the end via other means, but that shouldn’t be too much of a hardship.

An even better example

Let’s say you’re planning a Tokyo trip, then you’ll head home to Singapore for a while but your next trip is to San Francisco. Business Class is a must, as always!

Getting to Tokyo is a no brainer – 25,000 miles on JAL with Alaska miles or 47,000 miles with SQ means take JAL – provided there is availability.

Now for the next stage, using a stopover.

The Alaska Mileage Plan rate to fly from Tokyo to San Francisco is 80,000 miles, not that exciting versus the KrisFlyer rate of 92,000 miles on the non-stop Tokyo – Los Angeles flight. The latter is not useful to us in this case though, because we’re going back home to Singapore before the SFO trip.

But hang on, Alaska doesn’t care whether you fly this itinerary directly or via Singapore, with a free stopover of up to a year.

So it’s still 80,000 Alaska miles, with a few additional taxes.

NRT to SFO via SIN Example 1.jpg

Notice that on the date we checked, you can take any of six Singapore Airlines flights from Tokyo to Singapore, then have a stopover (we picked one week) and continue your journey on the nonstop SQ34 to San Francisco.

NRT to SFO via SIN Map.jpg
A huge amount of flying in Business Class for 80,000 miles

This itinerary would cost 142,000 KrisFlyer miles (due to SQ’s ‘no backtracking’ rule, it’s simply 47,000 miles + 95,000 miles). With Alaska, it’s still 80,000 miles.

NRT to SFO via SIN Example.jpg

This is flying the latest A380 with 2017 J seats on the first sector (it’s flying on the Tokyo route from January 2020), and the A350-900ULR with 2013 J seats on the non-stop San Francisco flight.

22 hours in some of the best Business Class seats Singapore Airlines has to offerfor 80,000 Alaska miles. Or US$1,544 (S$2,120) if you buy them in one of the 50% bonus promotions.

94A_2.jpg
2017 Business Class from Tokyo to Singapore. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
2013 J A350 (Daniel Gillespia).jpg
2013 Business Class from Singapore to Los Angeles. (Photo: Daniel Gillespia)

So what have we achieved so far? Singapore to Tokyo for 25,000 Alaska miles on JAL, then Tokyo to Singapore with a stopover followed by Singapore to San Francisco for 80,000 Alaska miles.

You can get back to Singapore on SQ for 95,000 KrisFlyer miles in Business Class, or 100,000 Alaska miles. That’s a no-brainer. Or is it?

Remember San Francisco to Tokyo (or Seoul) with a stopover in Singapore comes in cheaper at 80,000 Alaska miles. Who cares if you never use the second sector? Just book it for a later date and ditch it if you wish.

In fact, there is never any need to use the 100,000 Alaska miles rate from the USA to Singapore, just tag on a Tokyo or Seoul flight at a later date with a stopover in SIN and you’ll save 20,000 miles.

Better still, schedule it for another Japan trip later in the year, or maybe Korea. That way you could have a USA trip bookended by two Japan trips in Business Class for 160,000 miles, plus use the JAL stopover trick at the very start and very end of the journeys for 25,000 miles.

Three holidays with a total of nearly 60 hours in Business Class for 185,000 Alaska miles across three different bookings with two stopovers. Now you’re a true pro.

Earning Alaska miles in Singapore

Alaska miles are quite an elusive frequent flyer currency in Singapore, with most Asia-based flyers obtaining a decent balance by buying them in Alaska’s regular purchase sales.

AStrans

There’s one of those on offer right now, with up to 40% bonus for non-US based members, allowing you to buy miles at 2.11 US cents each.

To fly to Beijing in A380 Suites for example, which always has good award availability, you’re looking at US$738 (35,000 Alaska miles x 2.11 cents). We would definitely be doing that rather than splurge 53,000 valuable KrisFlyer miles.

Better still, the stopover example we presented from Shanghai to Singapore, then Singapore to Hong Kong, in new A380 Suites for 35,000 Alaska miles would also come in at US$738 under the current offer. Madness.

At the top bonus rate of 50%, which now comes around fairly regularly, you’re buying these miles at an even more competitive 1.97 US cents each.

It’s also possible to accrue Alaska miles with hotel bookings made through Kaligo and Rocketmiles, though this sometimes means paying a higher rate which is effectively ‘buying’ the miles anyway.

Miles purchased are limited to 150,000 per year

Assuming you don’t hold elite status in the Alaska Mileage Plan scheme (MVP, MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K), you are limited to 150,000 miles credited per calendar year from points.com (i.e. in the buy miles promotions). That includes any miles gifted to you through points.com.

If this restricts you and you book as a couple then one option is to have your partner open an Alaska account too, which would then allow you to buy up to 150,000 miles each per calendar year, if required.

Remember this only applies to miles credited by points.com, and you are still free to transfer miles into Alaska on top of that limit from hotel loyalty programs for example, and of course from eligible revenue flying.

Change and cancellation fees

Bear in mind that if you wish to change or cancel your Alaska award a fee of US$125 per ticket is applicable.

You might not know exactly when you wish to travel on a subsequent flight following a stopover in Singapore for example, so moving your onward sector to a different date will attract this fee. It’s not much different in that example to paying the US$100 KrisFlyer stopover fee, but try either not to do it at all or only do it once if possible.

Is it good value?

Arguably the only real ‘sweet spot’ offered here is intra SE Asia in Business or First Class / Suites, especially to and from Beijing and Shanghai.

We buy KrisFlyer miles at no more than 1.9 cents each, but in reality we accrue most of ours through credit card spend which is at a negligible cost in Singapore, or certainly comes in a lot cheaper than that.

For Alaska miles however we only earn about 20% of our balance through crediting Singapore Airlines and Emirates cash fares, the rest we bought when a purchase bonus was offered.

Even if you’re buying all your KrisFlyer miles at our upper limit (1.9 cents each), that’s 1.4 US cents, about 30% less than Alaska miles cost even in the best 50% bonus promotions.

Alaska redemptions in that case would therefore have to come in around 30% cheaper than the corresponding KrisFlyer rate to start to be a good value proposition.

For those based in the US, where Alaska has its own credit card for example, it’s a different matter, as it is for Singapore-based members accruing almost all of their Alaska miles through revenue flights (we know a few people who do!).

It’s worth noting that you’ll typically accrue very generous levels of Alaska miles when you credit Singapore Airlines, Emirates etc.. flights to that program. Check wheretocredit.com to get an idea – but if your company is flying you J class on SIA for example Alaska will award you 225% of miles flown, compared to KrisFlyer’s paltry 150%.

For most of us though it’s Business and First Class awards to and from Beijing or Shanghai and some of the Singapore stopover options which are the only real value deals with this new partner relationship.

Summary

It was a long time coming, but it’s great to finally see the option to use Alaska miles on Singapore Airlines flights, with full online search and booking functionality included (unlike Cathay Pacific, whose awards still have to be redeemed over the phone using the Alaska scheme).

Singapore Airlines usually restricts its long-haul Business and First Class cabins for redemption only by KrisFlyer members, but that’s not the case here. Even selected Suites awards are currently available to Alaska members.

It remains to be seen whether awards in these premium Singapore Airlines cabins are a feature of the new partnership, or just an introductory ‘bug’ in the system.

Alaska Air 737 4 (Alaska Air).jpg
(Photo: Alaska Air)

As it stands there is some value in using Alaska miles over KrisFlyer in Business Class and First Class / Suites on the Beijing and Shanghai routes, but the main benefit here comes when you combine two one-way awards with a stopover in Singapore, like the example we used flying Tokyo to Singapore then at a later date Singapore to Los Angeles for just 80,000 Alaska miles.

You might also combine Shanghai and Hong Kong in new A380 Suites for just 35,000 miles, with a stopover in Singapore between the trips.

All we need now is for one of the credit card issuers in Singapore to add Alaska Mileage Plan as a transfer partner. Citi would be the most obvious one, with their plethora of options, but even the bank’s US customers don’t currently have an Alaska agreement. Wishful thinking for any deal in Singapore perhaps!

Meanwhile you might now want to consider crediting some or all of your revenue flights with Singapore Airlines to Alaska miles if you aren’t doing that already. Not only is the mileage accrual rate far superior, there’s now much more than just the ‘JAL stopover trick’ to use.

(Cover Photo: Aero Icarus)

12 comments

      1. Yes but u need a “legal reason” to do so (eg rental, school etc). Unlike the Alaskan miles. You can just buy. Or am I wrong ?

  1. Did a quick check on SIN-MEL at end of October. Krisflyer does not show any J class availability on 26-28 Oct but Alaska mileage shows a number of J availability on those 3 days. How could SQ release more seats to Alaska members and not its own members?

    1. Partner award availability is from a different ‘bucket’ to KrisFlyer award availability, so this does happen.

      Have seen plenty of occasions where Star Alliance members can get a seat but the KrisFlyer bucket is already empty for the same flight.

  2. “All we need now is for one of the credit card issuers in Singapore to add Alaska Mileage Plan as a transfer partner.”

    Very unlikely. AS doesn’t run their program for the benefit of non-US/Canada based customers (it’s more luck that it occasionally works out for them), and Bank of America (AS’s bank partner) doesn’t do flexible currencies like Citi/Amex/Chase/Capital One (which the airline partner probably likes as it gives them more control over the “currency”- Chase and United aren’t all that friendly these days).

  3. Hi Andrew, I think SQ has closed the free stopover loophole on Alaska Miles redemptions. Tried searching for a BKK-SIN January, SIN-PEK May ticket but the system doesn’t allow it now. I’m hoping it’s a temporary issue, but seems like you can’t do a long stopover in Singapore now

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