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Buying and Using Alaska Miles to Redeem Cheap Flights from Asia

We previously explained that buying frequent flyer miles can be a cheap way of booking premium cabin flights. In this article we will look at the frequent flyer scheme of Alaska Airlines, a surprisingly cheap way for people based in Asia to fly.

Introduction

Alaska Airlines’ frequent flyer scheme is called Alaska Miles. You can find more information and a link to join here. Their promotions on purchasing miles are usually restricted to members of at least around ten days’ standing, so you may want to join ahead of time to be prepared in case they offer a good promotion on buying miles.

Using Alaska Miles on Partner Airlines

One of the reasons Alaska Miles is attractive for Hong Kong based travellers is that, although Alaska Airlines is not a OneWorld member, it is a mileage partner with Cathay Pacific. That means that you can use purchased Alaska miles to book flights with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, for example.

There are other partners which may be of interest, including locally Hainan Air, Japan Air and Korean Air, as well as global airlines serving Hong Kong directly such as British Airways, Qantas, American Airlines and others.

Alaska’s Partner Award Chart from Asia

Alaska’s mileage chart for partners varies by region. You can look at their chart here to see what mileage is needed for a redemption on Cathay, or other airlines.

For example, the miles for Cathay are as follows. This is for a one-way ticket: a return is double.

 

Asia

EuropeAustralia, New Zealand, IndiaCanada and U.S.A. (not Hawaii)

Africa

First

27,500

70,00045,00070,00070,000
Business

22,500

42,500

30,000

50,000

42,500

Premium Economy

15,000

35,000

25,000

35,000

35,000

Economy

12,50030,00022,50030,000

30,000

 

There is a US$12.50 fee per way per person for flights booked on partner airlines such as Cathay, plus taxes and fees.

Buying Alaska Miles

You can buy Alaska miles here. Alaska typically offers a bonus of up to 40% several times a year on purchases. So, for example, purchasing earlier this year using that promotion, you could have got miles at around 2.11 U.S. cents per mile. Indeed they are currently offering up to a 50% bonus (their biggest ever) until the end of June.

In other words, that means you could redeem a return Cathay flight as follows (exc. charges and taxes):

  • First class, Hong Kong to New York City: US$2,954
  • Business class, Hong Kong to London: US$897
  • Economy class, Hong Kong to Sapporo: US$264

That is pretty incredible value.

Redeeming Alaska Miles for Cathay flights

The Points guy has a post explaining how to redeem Alaska Miles for Cathay first class. There is also a helpful, detailed Flyertalk thread on redeeming Alaska miles for Cathay flights.

We’ve previously reviewed Cathay first class on routes including Paris, Tokyo and Taipei. We also provided a comparison of first class in Cathay and JAL, another Alaska miles partner.

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