With its distance based earning and redeeming, and extensive partner network, Mileage Plan has some great value areas.
Every airline’s mileage and frequent flyer program is different. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan stands apart from other major US airline programs with its distance-based earning and redeeming methods. This may change in the future, but for now, it helps make the program one of the most popular with frequent flyers. This guide takes a look at some of the best parts of the program and the best value you can get with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, arranged as a series of tips around earning miles, redeeming miles, and holding elite status.
Earning Mileage Plan miles
Take advantage of distance based earning. All flights (including those on Alaska Airlines) earn miles based on the distance flown and the booking code. This can be much more rewarding (especially for cheaper tickets) than the revenue-based earning models now becoming common with other airlines.
Photo: Vincenzo Pace / Simple Flying
Take advantage of non-oneworld airline partnerships. As it has only recently joined the alliance, Alaska Airlines maintains several partnerships with other airlines – including Aer Lingus, Icelandair, Korean Air, LATAM, and Singapore Airlines. Hopefully, these partnerships will last, but they may not! While they do, they can be useful to build mileage with the same program – and also a great mileage redemption opportunity that you don’t have with other oneworld alliance airlines schemes.
Photo: Getty Images
American Airlines frequent flyers should look at the program. Crediting flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan instead of American Airlines AAdvantage will mean miles are earned based on the flight distance, rather than the fare paid. This can be more rewarding, especially for economy and lower-fare flights. And with shared alliance benefits, elite status can be just as useful (if not more so, as it will also offer lounge access on domestic American Airlines itineraries).
Spending Mileage Plan miles
Use miles for long-haul international flights with partner airlines. This is likely the best value use of mileage, with many rates for partners notably lower than those charged by other airline programs. Rates vary between airlines, so always check the different options.
Photo: Getty Images
Mileage Plan allows stopovers on award tickets. This is unusual among frequent flyer programs and can be a great way to get extra value out of an award. This is limited, though, by the fact you can only use one partner airline.
Surcharges are low. Mileage Plan adds a small fee per partner around (currently $12.50), and it does charge fuel surcharges/supplements on some partners (including British Airways). Most other partners, though, have no additional surcharges – just government taxes.
Understand the redemption “sweet spots.” More than most airline programs, Mileage Plan offers some great value mileage redemption opportunities. Some of our favorites include:
- LATAM flights. Now that LATAM has left the oneworld alliance, it is hard to redeem miles for tickets with other programs. Mileage Plan maintains a partnership, however, and has great value rates to go with it. A flight from the US to anywhere in South America is 45,000 one way in business class – and you could add a stopover at any of LATAMs gateways.
Photo: Getty Images.
- Cathay Pacific long-haul flights. Cathay Pacific is a great airline to fly with, and Mileage Plan offers some of the best value mileage rates with it. From the US to anywhere in Asia is only 50,000 miles one way in business class (or 70,000 in first class). You can also add a stopover in Hong Kong if connecting on to another regional destination.
- Singapore Airlines flights to Asia. Singapore Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, so Mileage Plan’s partnership is a chance for oneworld frequent flyers to try this great airline. Rates for US to Asia flights are not as low as some other airlines (such as Cathay Pacific), but lower than others (such as Korean Air).
Photo: Getty Images
- American Airlines, Aer Lingus, or Icelandair to Europe. These airlines offer the lowest premium cabin rates to Europe, and all without additional fuel surcharges. Aer Lingus and Icelandair will offer more destinations, and allow a stopover in Dublin or Reykjavik.
Status with Mileage Plan
There is no spending requirement to reach elite status. All the other major US airline programs have introduced a minimum spending level alongside flying requirements. With Mileage Plan, you can earn all elite status levels based just on the amount you fly. There is, however, a requirement to meet a minimum number of segments on Alaska Airlines flights.
Receive status benefits across the oneworld alliance. This is particularly relevant for American Airlines’ frequent fliers. They can choose to use either program, depending on how mileage earning, redeeming, or status earning suits them.
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Are you a regular user of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan? What do you find are the best parts of the program and the perks it offers? There are plenty more to discuss; feel free to do so in the comments.