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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
|First / Suites||35,000||27,500 to
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.
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.
|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.
SE Asia (excl. China) to/from the USA
|First / Suites||130,000||130,000 to
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.
|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.
|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.
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.
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.
|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.
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).
|First / Suites||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
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).
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.
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’.
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).