With recent airline award chart devaluations, Alaska Airlines is becoming one of best airlines to earn frequent flyer miles with. This is true for both domestic and international award travel.
Even though Alaska Airlines is not part of any alliance, they’re partnered with 14 airlines that you can redeem your Alaska miles on. So it may surprise you to know that you can fly to just about anywhere in the world using your Alaska Airlines miles.
Not only can you redeem your miles on domestic Alaska Airlines flights, but you can also redeem them for flights on any of their partner airlines. This series will show you the best ways you can earn and use Alaska miles.
Alaska Airlines has one of the easiest websites for booking online awards. You can select a date with your origin and destination and search and award calendar that shows you all the dates and award prices for the whole month. Plus, when you select a day the results show all award options on all partner airlines.
The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Airlines Miles Series Index
Part 2 | Earning Alaska Airlines Miles
Part 4 | Alaska Airlines Award Costs & Fees
Part 5 | Mileage Plan Elite Status
Part 9 | Best Ways to Get To Europe
Part 10 | North America Alaska Airlines Awards (Including Canada, Hawaii, and Mexico)
Part 11 | Best Ways to Get to The Caribbean, Central & South America
Part 12 | Best Ways to Get to Australia, New Zealand, & South Pacific
Part 13 | Best Ways to Get to Japan, North Asia & South Asia
Part 14 | Best Ways to Get to Africa, Middle East, and India
Alaska Airlines Award Types
Alaska has different types of awards and each one has a certain amount of award seat capacity per flight. In future posts we’ll cover how to book each of these awards and how to find the lowest price.
1. Alaska Airline Awards
If an award only includes travel on Alaska Airlines, then you have several different options of award types.
Refundable Coach Award
You can book refundable Coach Awards that offer maximum flexibility, but it's generally not a good idea due to the increase in costs. The cost of a refundable Coach ticket is almost twice the cost of the lowest Coach Award price level, so it is generally never a good deal unless you're sure you will need to change or possibly cancel your flight. However these award seats are not capacity controlled so you can book one until the very last seat on the plane is left. You also won’t pay change or cancellation fees on refundable awards.
Refundable Coach Award within the US: 60,000 miles
There are two price levels for Coach Award travel and both are capacity controlled. Lowest Price level awards are the most limited and may not be available on every flight. The next level is the Standard Award price and while they are also capacity controlled, they are much more widely available than Lowest Price awards. These awards also cost almost as much as twice the miles!
Lowest Price Coach Award within the US: 25,000 miles
Standard Coach Award within the US: 40,000 miles
You’ll pay fees for changes and cancellations on these awards and we’ll go over the amounts later on in the post.
Refundable First Award
You can also book refundable First Awards and these are also available on every flight, every day, and on every seat on the plane. With First Class Awards you get:
- Complimentary food and premium beverages
- 2 free checked bags
- Express check-in
- Board Room access
Again, refundable First Award tickets cost more than double the price of a Standard First Class Award does.
Refundable First Award within the US: 120,000 miles
Unless there is a great possibility of having to change your award ticket multiple times, it’s not a good deal to book a refundable award ticket. With the Refundable First Class Awards you won’t pay change or cancellation fees.
These are the lowest price level of First Class Awards and you'll get everything you would with the Refundable First Awards except change and cancellation fees apply. First Award seats are also capacity controlled, so they may not be available on every flight.
Standard First Class Award within the US: 50,000 miles
Money & Miles Award
You can book Money & Miles Awards that allow you to pay for up to 50% of a fare using Alaska miles. The maximum discount is $100 off the base fare for 10,000 miles or $200 off the base fare for 20,00 miles. You're get 1 cent per mile when you redeem miles for a Money & Miles Award, but you also earn Alaska miles for the distance flown on the award.
2. Partner Awards
When you use Alaska miles on partner airlines you only have one award type available. All award space on partners is capacity controlled and it differs across airlines, but if it’s available it will show up on the award calendar when you search.
This is where the award charts come in. Each partner award has its own award chart, so you can easily look it up to see how much it costs to fly to a specific zone on each airline. This is also why you will have several different prices come up when you search for awards.
Partner awards are only offered as Standard Awards, meaning there is only one price for each cabin. Availability is limited on partner awards, so every flight may not have seats that you can redeem using miles during busy times.
Mix and Match Awards allows you to use one partner in one direction and return on another partner. You can only fly on one partner airline in addition to Alaska Airlines on an award, so booking one-ways is the best way to book flexible awards.
Most of Alaska’s partners allow one-way awards and it costs half the price of a round trip award. So, there is no reason to not book one-way awards. However, Delta and Korean Airlines do not allow one-way awards.
You can book awards with Alaska miles online with all partners except Cathay Pacific and LAN. If you plan to book award travel on either of these airlines you’ll have to call Alaska Airlines Reservations at 1-800-252-7522 to book over the phone.
Remember, partner awards are only offered at one price and each partner releases a different amount of award seats. If you can’t find any award seat availability on the airline you want to fly on, you can look up different days on the award calendar or click adjacent days within the search results.
You can travel on any of Alaska’s partner as long as there are award seats available, but unlike Refundable Alaska Awards you don’t get access to book the last seat. Each airline releases its own amount of award space bookable by Alaska miles.
There may be award seats available on the partner airline using their respective miles, but Alaska may not have access to these extra seats.
Since all partners have their own award chart, make sure you know how many miles it costs to fly on each airline. You can save miles flying to a destination by choosing a different partner, but you can also fly in some of the best quality cabins. So, depending on what airline and travel dates you go with, you may find many different prices on partner awards.
Tip: If you’re flexible, be sure to check a few days before and after to see if there is better award availability on other partner airlines.
3. Intra-State and Domestic Awards
On all domestic awards, including intra state awards, you can fly on Alaska’s metal or any of the partner airlines. There is a unique award chart for each partner airline, so depending on where you're flying, you can choose which award chart works best for you.
On Intra-State Awards you can fly on Alaska, ERA Alaska, and PenAir. Because Alaska’s hub is Seattle most Intra-State routes are on the West Coast and there’s great Intra-State options within Alaska.
You can get Intra-State awards on Coach for 5,000 to 7,500 miles and 15,000 miles each way on First Class.
Continental US and Canada
On awards within the US and Canada, you can fly on Alaska’s metal as well as American Airlines, Delta, Cathay Pacific, and PenAir. You can only fly on Cathay Pacific between JFK and Vancouver.
On all airlines (except Cathay Pacific) an award with the Continental US and Canada costs 25,000 miles, so depending on your destination or preferred carrier you have lots of options.
On Business and First Class awards you will pay different amounts of miles depending on what airline you fly on.
4. International Awards
Remember that Alaska Airlines has an award chart for EACH partner airline. This means that it may cost more or less depending on what airline you book an award on.
All of the award charts are published and you can book awards online for all airline except on Cathay Pacific and LAN. This makes it easy to compare prices and see what award availability is open on each airline.
When you search for an award you get a list of all award flights that looks like this.
You can choose what airline you want to fly on, but you can only fly on one partner airline in addition to Alaska Airlines. To book round trip awards on multiple airlines you should always book two separate one-way awards. We’ll go over more about searching and finding award space later.
Alaska Airlines publishes a table and chart of fees for award tickets. If you have elite status with Alaska you may be able to get certain fees waived and conveniently the chart is broken down by elite status level.
There are no close-in booking fees, this is huge if you are always planning last minute trips with miles.
Call Center Ticketing Fee
There is a $15 fee for booking an award over the phone with a Alaska Airline agent. The fee is waived if you have Mileage Plan MVP Gold or 75K elite status.
Booking Alaska awards online on AlaskaAir.com is free, but you may have to call Alaska if you are booking an award on Cathay Pacific or LAN. It never hurts to ask the telephone agent to waive the phone booking fee, just remember to ask politely!
Either way the phone booking fee is less than other major airlines which charge $25 to book over the phone, and on top of that you're getting a great award for very little money!
Partner Award Booking Fee
There is a $12.50 per one-way Partner Award Booking Fee when you book any awards on partner airlines. Everyone has to pay this fee, even if you have Mileage Plan MVP Gold or 75K elite status.
This fee is still a small amount for the amount you’re saving by booking a flight with miles. Plus, unless you’re flying on British Airways, you will never pay fuel surcharges when you use Alaska miles to book an award.
You won’t pay for changes or cancellations made at least 60 days prior to ticketed flight departure including for a change of origin/destination or cabin class.
If you change or cancel an award within 60 days prior to ticketed flight departure, you will pay $125 for each ticket. The fee is waived if you book an award at the Refundable Coach or First Award level as well as for Mileage Plan MVP Gold or 75K elite status members.
If a family member has MVP Gold or 75k elite status, it’s always a good idea to book tickets using their account. This way if you have to change or cancel an award ticket you won’t pay the fees!
Taxes And Fees
On award travel within the US you will pay the September 11 Security Fee of $2.50 per one-way. For international awards you’ll pay airport taxes, which can be much higher (such as London).
Alaska does not charge fuel surcharges on flights (except on British Airways) so when you book awards using Alaska Airlines miles you will never pay extra fuel surcharge fees.
You can redeem Alaska Airlines miles on Alaska flights and with any of their partners for international travel. For flights on Alaska you have several different award option types, but international awards are only offered at one price. This doesn’t mean their award chart is not competitive.
Each partner airline has its own award chart and may differ in the cost of miles needed for an award. This means that comparing award charts for a specific destination can help you save miles.
Either way, when you search for awards on Alaska Airline’s website all of the award options will come up, so you can compare prices when you are booking.
You’ll pay a $12.50 per one-way on all partner awards, but will never pay fuel surcharges unless you are flying on British Airways.
You can book all partner awards online except for awards on Cathay Pacific and LAN. You will have to book over the phone and pay the $15 phone booking fee on awards with Cathay Pacific and LAN.
If you change or cancel your award more than 60 prior to ticketed departure you will not pay any fees, but if it’s less than 60 days out, you will pay $125 for any changes. This fee is waived for MVP Gold or 75k elite status members.
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