Top 5 Reasons I Love Alaska Airlines!

As many of you know, we do not live in Alaska, or Seattle, or Portland, or anywhere on the west coast where Alaska Airlines primarily operates. In fact, I’ve never flown on Alaska Airlines. So, why do I love them so?

Well, as I’ve mentioned before, Bank of America has an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card product that is pretty sweet.

  • You receive 25,000 miles upon approval of the card (not upon first purchase or after completing a certain spending requirement). The miles generally show up in your account less than a week after you apply!
  • You and up to 6 companions on the same ticket receive a free checked bag when flying on Alaska Airlines.
  • And after spending $1,000 on the card, you get a $100 statement credit. The annual fee which is not waived is $75. Therefore, net, they pay you $25 and 25,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on the card in 3 months. And to top it off, you can get this card multiple times. You just need to cancel it before reapplying. Sweet.

With these miles in hand, there are lots of things that you can do with them. I’m an expert at frequent flyer programs (I’ve been booking award travel for clients for years now…) and Alaska Airlines has one of the better ones out there. As follows are my favorite aspects of their Mileage Plan program:

  1. They partner with both Delta and American Airlines. This is so helpful for domestic travel in the continental US. While Delta’s award availability leaves much to be desired, if you’re able to find saver availability on either airline, you can use your Alaska miles to book it!
  2. They also partner with both Emirates and Cathay Pacific, both of whom are known to have awesome business and first class products. We’ve flown Cathay Pacific twice in business class to/from Hong Kong and have had wonderful experiences.  I’ve never flown Emirates but I yearn to… And Alaska Airlines is basically the only practical way I ever will unless I want to buy a ticket (and I don’t!).
  3. They allow a stopover on one way tickets. That means that they offer two stopovers on roundtrip tickets! That makes them the most generous US airline in terms of stopovers which you can really leverage to your benefit. They also allow a double open jaw, which is far more generous than other airlines (double open jaw = fly from US city #1 to Europe city #1, return from Europe city #2 to US city #2).
  4. Thanks to said credit card, it is soooo easy to get Alaska Airlines miles. Say you’d like to travel to Los Angeles next month but really don’t want to pay the $600 the airlines are asking. You see that there is saver award availability on American Airlines using award miles (12,500 miles in coach each way). You can apply for the card and receive the miles in your account before you even receive the credit card in the mail! That means you can book your flights and you haven’t even made one purchase! There is no other card out there like that. And, you can get this card over and over and over and over…
  5. They run a sale on buying Alaska Airlines miles about 4 times a year and they don’t restrict how many miles you can buy. Why would you want to buy miles?? Well, if you wanted to fly to Johannesburg on Emirates one way in first class, buying a ticket from Boston would cost you about $12,300. But if you bought the 100,000 miles required to book these same flights through Alaska’s frequent flyer program, your out of pocket costs would be about $2,200 during the sale period. And you’d get a free stopover in Dubai. Of course, you’d need to make sure that there was award availability, but this shouldn’t be too difficult assuming you have a little flexibility and plan ahead.  This is an extreme example, but you get the idea.

Of course all isn’t rosy. The Mileage Plan program definitely has unique restrictions that most other frequent flyer programs don’t. For example, you can only use Alaska Airlines miles to or from the US. So, you can’t use your miles to travel from Europe to the Middle East or from Asia to Australia. You’re restricted to flying from the US to anywhere in the world or from anywhere in the world to the US.

Secondly, you cannot combine partners on award tickets. So, you can’t fly from Washington, DC to New York City on American Airlines and then onto Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. That would require two awards. You can only combine Alaska Airlines flights with their partners. This isn’t much of an issue for those living on the west coast due to the frequency of Alaska Airlines flights, but for those of us on the east coast, we quite frequently will have to connect ourselves to the gateway city (luckily both Emirates and Cathay Pacific fly out of Boston!).

Issues aside, bottom line is I love the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. And I love that Bank of America is the issuing bank of their credit card due to the ease of getting it multiple times and getting the miles so quickly. This is a good example of why everyone should consider all frequent flyer programs when accumulating miles, even if you never plan on flying on one of their flights. Leveraging partners is most frequently the best way to get more out of your hard earned miles.

What is your favorite aspect of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program? Do their program restrictions give you pause in accumulating their miles?

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