If you haven’t flown on Alaska Airlines, you’re missing out. According to the company, it’s the fifth-largest U.S. airline based on passenger traffic and is one of the most popular West Coast air carriers.
Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan, its loyalty program, offers great benefits for frequent travelers. Even better, you can get credited for flights operated by other airlines, helping you rack up miles faster so you can take advantage of award flights.
To help you get the most from Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan and Alaska Airlines’ partners, here’s what you need to know about these programs, how you can earn more miles through flights and credit cards, how you can find the best redemptions, and how to join.
- The basics of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program
- Alaska Airlines partner airlines
- Alaska Airlines and its partners let you stopover for free
- How you can use your Mileage Plan miles with partner airlines
- How to sign up for the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- How to earn more Mileage Plan miles
- The bottom line on Alaska Airlines partners
The basics of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program
The Mileage Plan is Alaska Airlines’ loyalty program for frequent travelers. You can use the program when you travel to over 900 destinations all over the globe.
With the Mileage Plan program, you earn miles based on the length of your flight rather than the cost of your ticket. The minimum you can receive is 500 miles. You’ll earn one mile for every mile flown on Alaska Airlines, even at the lowest fare. And you can also earn Mileage Plan miles when you travel with an Alaska Airlines partner (we’ll give you a list of them in just a bit).
When you earn at least 5,000 miles, you can start redeeming your rewards for flights, known as “award flights.” You have a lot of flexibility with how you use your miles, as you can redeem your miles for either award flights or upgrades on Alaska Airlines or with one of its partner airlines.
Once you’ve earned 20,000 miles, you’ll qualify for elite status. That perk gives you benefits like two free checked bags, priority check-in and boarding, and preferred seating, among other things. With Alaska Airlines, there are actually three tiers of elite status: MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K.
With all three of these status levels, you’ll earn a mileage bonus on top of the regular Mileage Plan miles you accrue. And when you reach MVP Gold 75K status, you’ll get premium benefits like first-class upgrades and a complimentary inflight entertainment system.
How to qualify for Alaska Airlines status
You must meet one of the three thresholds listed below to qualify for the correlating status level. If you don’t fly Alaska too frequently, don’t worry — you can also earn miles toward status with its airline partners.
|MVP||MVP Gold||MVP Gold 75K|
|Eligible miles earned on Alaska Airlines||20,000||40,000||75,000|
|Eligible miles earned on Alaska Airlines and elite-qualifying partners||25,000||50,000||90,000|
|Segments flown on Alaska Airlines and elite-qualifying partners||30||60||90|
How your Alaska Airlines status increases your mileage earnings
Here’s what that status gets you when it comes to earning more Mileage Plan miles. Be aware that bonus miles won’t count toward any future elite status qualification requirements. In addition, there may be regional airline partners, such as PenAir or Ravn, where flights won’t earn you bonus miles.
|MVP||MVP Gold||MVP Gold 75K|
|Elite bonus miles||50% bonus||100% bonus||125% bonus|
|50,000 bonus miles upon qualification||No||No||Yes|
The benefits you earn with Alaska Airlines elite status
|MVP||MVP Gold||MVP Gold 75K|
|First-Class upgrades at time of booking||On select fares||On select fares||On select fares|
|Premium-Class upgrades at time of booking||On select fares||On select fares||On all fares except for Saver fares|
|First- and Premium-Class upgrades on Alaska non-qualifying fares||48 hours before departure||72 hours before departure||120 hours before departure|
|Companion upgrades to First Class||No||Yes||Yes|
|Companion upgrades to Premium Class||No||Yes||Yes|
|Four one-way First Class guest upgrades||No||Yes||Yes|
|Complimentary premium beverage in main cabin||No||Yes||Yes|
|Complimentary inflight entertainment player||No||No||Yes|
Alaska Airlines partner airlines
If you fly with any of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan partners, you can use or earn Mileage Plan miles. As of 2019, Alaska Airlines has 18 partner airlines as part of the Mileage Plan program:
- Aer Lingus
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- EL AL Israel Airlines
- Fiji Airways
- Hainan Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Korean Air
- LATAM Airlines
- Ravn Alaska
- Singapore Airlines
Earning miles with airline partners
You’ll earn miles based on the length of your flight when you fly with Alaska Airlines’ partners. However, it’s not always a 1:1 rate. How many miles you earn depends on the airline, your booking class, and your status level.
In general, you should expect to earn 100% of the base miles on your flights, regardless of which airline partner you choose. However, if you opt for a basic economy flight, you may get as few as 25% of the miles. For example, here’s the earning chart for international flights on American Airlines as of Sep. 17, 2019:
If you’re flying first class, you’ll get 100% of the base miles of your flight in Mileage Plan miles, plus a 100% bonus based on your service class (which class of seat you purchased). So, if you were to fly from Heathrow Airport in London to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, you’d earn 6,902 miles — 3,451 base miles, and another 3,451 miles as a service-class bonus. That’s a big difference compared to the O or Q section of economy class. At that level, you’d earn just 25% of the base miles. On the same flight, that means you’d get just 862 miles.
In addition, before you book a flight, make sure you review the details on the Alaska Airlines website. Each partner airline may have additional restrictions or details that might affect how many miles you can earn. For example, flights on Ravn Airlines must be in the range of eligible flight numbers listed below and must be marketed by Alaska Airlines to qualify for Mileage Plan rewards:
- AS 3000-3099 PenAir-operated flights (effective June 1, 2019)
What you need to know before redeeming with Alaska’s partner airlines
In general, your miles can be redeemed at a value of one to two cents each. The exact value you’ll get is dependent on the type of ticket you’re purchasing. For example, an economy-class ticket on a domestic flight may be worth one cent, while a first-class ticket on a premium airline like Emirates could be worth up to two cents.
Each Alaska Airlines partner airline has its own awards chart, so make sure you review that information before booking an award flight. The chart will list how many miles you need to complete your desired route.
For example, if you were flying on Emirates, the following chart applies:
|Emirates: Contiguous U.S. and Alaska to Europe|
|Economy||47,500 miles each way|
|Business||105,000 miles each way|
|First Class||180,000 miles each way|
In most cases, you can book your award flights on an Alaska Airlines partner airline online. The only exceptions are Cathay Pacific and LATAM. To book an award flight with those airlines, you’ll need to call 1-800-252-7522.
Because the rewards are different for each airline, you can’t mix partner airlines on your connecting flights on an awards ticket when you redeem your miles. However, you can book a mix of Alaska Airlines and a partner for your connecting flights. For example, you can book an Alaska Airlines flight and a American Airlines flight together using your reward miles, but you can’t book American Airlines and a connecting flight on Cathay Pacific.
Additionally, if you’re booking an award flight on a partner airline, there’s a $12.50 booking fee charged each way, per award, for all new reservations.
Alaska Airlines and its partners let you stopover for free
When you’re planning a long trip, you’ll likely take a connecting flight. While you could book your flights close together, another option is to plan for a stopover. With a stopover, you have a day (or more!) to spend time in a location before hopping on your connecting flight.
For example, let’s say you’re flying from New York to Dubai. Some flight itineraries would take you from New York to Moscow. Then you’d take a connecting flight from Moscow to Dubai. If you took advantage of a stopover, you could have some time to explore Moscow before continuing on your journey.
When it comes to awards flights, most airlines don’t allow you to enjoy a stopover; they’re usually prohibited. Alaska Airlines is different; you can redeem your Mileage Plan miles with the plan to squeeze in a stopover. You can spend days or even weeks before the next leg of your trip. That perk allows you to maximize your trip, so you can tour more places during one vacation.
How you can use your Mileage Plan miles with partner airlines
To see how valuable your miles can be, we rounded up some award flights at different mileage levels. Award flights start at just 5,000 miles, but you’ll likely need more than that to book most flights.
If you had 5,000 miles
With 5,000 miles, you could book a one-way ticket from San Diego to San Francisco.
If you had 10,000 miles
You could travel from San Diego to Seattle with just 7,500 miles — and have miles left over — if you had 10,000 miles accrued.
If you had 25,000 miles
A round-trip ticket for one person from New York to Raleigh, North Carolina can be covered by 25,000 miles.
If you had 50,000 miles
With 50,000 miles, you could book a round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco — and still have miles left over.
If you had 100,000 miles
With 100,000 miles, you could book a round-trip flight from New York to Paris with miles left over.
How to sign up for the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
The sign-up process for the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is very simple; plus, it’s free. You can join online on the Alaska Airlines website.
The site will ask you to provide information about yourself, including your name, birth date, mailing address, phone number, and email. You’ll also be asked to create a username and password.
Once the sign-up process is completed, you’ll have an account and be given a Mileage Plan number you can use on Alaska Airlines and its partners when making flight reservations.
How to earn more Mileage Plan miles
You can earn Mileage Plan miles in several ways:
1. Fly on Alaska Airlines
When you fly on Alaska Airlines, you’ll earn 100% of the miles flown, regardless of your airfare type. If you qualify for elite status, you’ll also earn bonus miles, getting a bonus of up to 125%.
2. Fly with partner airlines
You can earn miles when you fly on one of Alaska Airlines’ 18 partner airlines, including American Airlines and British Airways. How many miles you earn depends on your airfare class and booking level.
3. Purchase Mileage Plan miles
In some cases, you may need a few additional miles to book your desired award flight. If that’s the case, you can purchase extra Mileage Plan miles. You can buy as little as 1,000 miles starting at $27.50.
In general, your miles will be more expensive when you buy them versus when you earn them on flights, costing as much as 2.75 cents a piece. That’s far more than they’d be worth when you redeem them. But when you need just a few more miles to score a free flight, it can be worth the added expense.
Also, pay attention to special offers. Alaska Airlines sometimes issues bonus incentives where you can get more miles for your money. For example, past offers gave you up to 40% more miles for your purchase, making it much more cost-effective to buy miles.
4. Share Mileage Plan miles
If you have friends or relatives who have accrued Mileage Plan miles, they can help you score free award flights by sharing their miles with you. Members can transfer miles to another member’s account for $10 per 1,000 miles.
5. Sign up for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card
If you're a big Alaska Airlines fan, their co-branded card could be the best airline credit card for your wallet. With the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card, you’ll earn 3X miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X miles on every $1 spent on other purchases. Plus you’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles (plus one round-trip coach companion fare) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days of opening an account.
The card also comes with other perks that help offset its annual fee of $75:
- Companion Fare privileges (renewed each year on your card anniversary)
- Free checked bag for you and up to six guests on Alaska flights
- 20% back on Alaska inflight purchases when you use your card
- 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes when you use your card
6. Book stays with hotel partners
You can earn Mileage Plan miles when you book with Alaska Airlines’ hotel partners. These include Best Western, Choice Hotels, Coast Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott Bonvoy, Rocketmiles, and Westmark Hotels.
How many miles you earn depends on the hotel chain and the level of resort. For example, at Marriott Bonvoy resorts, you’ll get two miles per $1 spent on all qualifying charges at JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Edition Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Marriott Vacation Club, Delta Hotels, Le Meridien, Westin, Autograph Collection Hotels, Design Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, and Gaylord Hotels.
But you’ll only earn one mile per $1 spent on room rate only at Courtyard by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, SpringHill Suites, Protea Hotels, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Aloft Hotels, Moxy Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element by Westin.
7. Transfer points from Marriott cards
If you frequently stay at Marriott resorts, consider signing up for a Marriott credit card. You’ll earn Marriott Bonvoy points, which you can transfer to Alaska Airlines at a 3:1 rate. And for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer, you’ll get an additional 5,000-mile bonus. These are excellent transfer rates, making this one of the best travel credit cards to get additional Alaska miles.
For example, with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, you’ll earn 17X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status) and 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. You’ll also get benefits like an annual free night award, Marriott Silver Elite status, and a variety of travel perks like lost luggage reimbursement and trip delay reimbursement.
The bottom line on Alaska Airlines partners
If you fly often, signing up for Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan makes a lot of sense, even if you don’t fly Alaska itself. When you join the Mileage Plan, you can earn miles when you fly on partner airlines or even when you book hotel stays with resort partners, helping you earn free flights sooner.