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Alaska Mileage Plan is giving each oneworld partner a unique award chart

Alaska Airlines is starting to roll out its oneworld partner award charts, and there are no signs that Cathay and JAL 'sweet spots' are about to be bulldozed into a generic devalued table.

With regular opportunities to buy miles throughout the year from as little as 1.7 US cents each, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flyer programme is a popular one with many miles chasers in the Asia-Pacific region, since it unlocks a number of ‘sweet spot’ redemptions with the likes of Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Qantas.

One of the more recent developments for the airline has been joining the oneworld alliance, meaning a new set of redemption options for members.

While that sounds like good news, our biggest fear was that Alaska Airlines would follow nearly all other existing oneworld members and create a harmonised zone-based award chart for all oneworld redemptions using Alaska Miles, which could have removed those ‘sweet spots’ for the existing partners who are also oneworld members.



 


 

Individual charts are being retained

Good news is that (so far) Alaska Mileage Plan does not appear to be going down the route of introducing a common award chart for oneworld partners, with redemption rates for three alliance members now announced, each of which retains its own unique award rates even for identical zone combinations.

Initially all we had to go on was the Qatar Airways award chart, which was revealed in July last year and isn’t very attractive at all.

If this was our first look at a harmonised award chart – we didn’t like it!

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Since then award redemption using Alaska Mileage Plan has now become available on two other oneworld partners, Iberia and Royal Air Maroc, including online booking functionality.

The rates themselves are unattractive, with no new ‘sweet spots’ in sight, but the important point is that they are not harmonised with one another, nor with the previously announced Qatar chart.

Iberia A330 Business Class. (Photo: The Points Guy)

For example, redeeming Alaska Miles in Economy Class from the USA to the Middle East with these three new oneworld options costs:

  • 42,500 Miles on Qatar Airways
  • 50,000 Miles on Iberia
  • 65,000 Miles on Royal Air Maroc

If Alaska was aiming to have a harmonised oneworld award chart anytime soon, this would be a very funny way to go about it!

Iberia rates

If you’re interested in the Mileage Plan award rate for redeeming on Iberia flights, here’s the crux of the award table (one-way to and from Europe). Some other zone combinations are also available by searching the award chart here.

Alaska miles redemption
to/from Europe
(One-way)
Zone This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IBtrans.png
Economy Business
Europe 12,500 22,500
Africa 17,500
45,000
Middle East 25,000 55,000
USA &
Mexico
35,000
75,000
South America 50,000 90,000

Iberia operates an extensive network to and from South America from its Madrid hub, but you’d be much better off redeeming Avios on these routes.

For example Madrid to Buenos Aires comes in at 51,000 Avios in Business Class (off-peak) or 75,000 Avios (Peak), compared to 90,000 Alaska miles (year-round).

Royal Air Maroc rates

Sadly there are no attractive award rates using Alaska Miles to redeem on Royal Air Maroc either. Here’s the table of rates to and from the carrier’s home base in Casablanca (Africa zone):

Alaska miles redemption
to/from Africa
(One-way)
Zone
Economy Business
Africa 20,000
45,000
USA 50,000
100,000
Europe 17,500 30,500
Middle East 32,500 70,000
South Pacific 45,000 100,000

These are the rates starting or ending in Europe, for flights to and from the USA (via Casablanca):

Alaska miles redemption
to/from Europe
(One-way)
Zone
Economy Business
USA
(via Morocco)
60,000
120,000
Royal Air Maroc has a decent Business Class product on its Boeing 787-9s, but Alaska Miles award rates are horrible. (Photo: One Mile at a Time)

Fuel surcharges

One of the major benefits of redeeming award tickets using Alaska Miles is that unlike many other FFPs it does not pass on fuel surcharges for most airlines, even when they are levied by the operating carrier (e.g. Cathay Pacific).

More good news with these latest award options is that this policy is also apparently being maintained, with the programme waiving fuel surcharges not only on Qatar Airways awards, as we noted last year, but also on Iberia and Royal Air Maroc awards too (both airlines apply a fuel surcharge).

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For example, British Airways passes on all US$700 in Iberia fuel surcharge when redeeming Avios in Business Class from New York to Madrid (yes, you read it right – US$700!), for a total of US$780.20 in taxes and fees on top of the Avios points required.

Alaska Mileage Plan, meanwhile, is only passing on US$5.60, plus its (relatively new) partner award booking fee of US$12.50.

Similarly Alaska Mileage Plan is not passing on Royal Air Maroc’s fuel surcharge for award bookings.

This bodes well for the policy being retained even once all oneworld carriers’ redemptions are on board.

The Alaska ‘sweet spots’

In case you’d forgotten, here are some of our favourite existing Alaska Mileage Plan redemption ‘sweet spots’ we’re hoping will be retained going forward, now that it looks as though each partner will keep their own unique award chart.

Mileage Plan ‘Sweet Spot’ Examples

‘Sweet Spot’ AStrans
Singapore to New York
Business Class
65,000
miles
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
25,000
miles
Singapore to Los Angeles
First Class
70,000
miles
Singapore to Los Angeles
Business Class
50,000
miles
Sydney to New York
First Class
80,000
miles
Sydney to New York
Business Class
60,000
miles
Hong Kong to London
Business Class
42,500
miles
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
22,500
miles
Sydney to New York
First Class
80,000
miles
Sydney to Dallas
First Class
70,000
miles
Sydney to Dallas
Business Class
55,000
miles
Perth to Sydney
Business Class
20,000
miles

The key one here for us is the excellent 50,000-mile rate in Business Class on Cathay Pacific from Singapore to the USA, with minimal taxes and fees to pay.

More to come

We are still waiting to see what Alaska’s redemption rates will be on the following oneworld airlines:

  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

Of those, our Asia-Pacific-based readers are most likely to be interested in the Malaysia and SriLankan charts.

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More importantly than that, however, is how the full award charts will look for some other oneworld airlines that were always partners, but only ever offered part of their network to Mileage Plan members for redemption:

  • British Airways
  • Japan Airlines
  • Qantas

This will open up additional award options to and from Singapore, like British Airways and Qantas redemptions to and from Australia and Europe (e.g. SIN-SYD, SIN-LHR) and Japan Airlines redemptions to and from Europe via Tokyo (currently restricted to intra-Asia and Asia-USA routes using Mileage Plan).

Both Qantas and JAL already have some ‘sweet spots’ in their existing Mileage Plan charts, so let’s hope there will be some new ones for us to use.