Why is it important to learn how to earn and redeem tons of Alaska Airlines Miles as a Canadian? Alaska Airlines is one of the best frequent flyer programs in Canada. In my opinion, it is one of three most important frequent flyers in Canada alongside Aeroplan and British Airways Avios.
Alaska Airlines is not part of the three biggest airline alliances: Star Alliance, One World, Sky Team. However, they are partners with many airlines within the three biggest airline alliances giving you lots of options when it comes to redeeming your miles.
Alaska Airlines Miles are also very easy to redeem compared to the more complicated Aeroplan. In my personal opinion, Alaska Miles are best used for business and first class redemption. I’ve personally redeemed my Alaska Miles to fly First Class on Cathay Pacific and it was an awesome once in a lifetime experience.
In this article, you will learn how to earn and redeem Alaska Airlines Miles so you can go to all your dream destination while travelling in style!
The Ultimate Guide to the Alaska Airlines Miles program for Canadians video
The best way to earn Alaska Airlines miles
There are several ways to earn Alaska Airlines Miles. The best way in my opinion is through credit card sign up bonuses. The two best credit cards in Canada to earn Alaska Airlines miles are:
If you get this card, you can earn 30,000 Alaska Miles after spending $1000 within 90 days of being approved for this card. You must have a personal annual income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000 to qualify for this card. This credit card has an annual fee of $99 but you get $50 cash back if you apply through Great Canadian Rebates dropping the cost of getting this card to $49. You’ll also receive an annual companion fare where the person travelling with you only pays $121 USD for their flight. If you use this card for Alaska Airlines related purchases, you’ll get 3 miles for every $1 spent. For all other purchases, you’ll earn 1 mile per $1 spent.
If you get this card, you can earn 20,000 Alaska Miles after spending $1000 within 90 days of being approved for this card. There’s no personal or household income requirements to get this card. This card has an annual fee of $75 but you get $50 cash back if you apply through Great Canadian Rebates dropping the cost of getting this card to $25. You’ll also receive an annual companion fare where the person travelling with you only pays $121 USD for their flight. If you use this card for Alaska Airlines related purchases, you’ll get 3 miles for every $1 spent. For all other purchases, you’ll earn 1 mile per $1 spent.
You can’t get both of these cards at once. So you have to pick and choose which one you want to apply for.
Other methods of getting Alaska Airlines Miles
Another method of earning Alaska Miles is by transferring your Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska miles. The transfer rate is 3:1 so for every 3 Marriott points, you’ll get 1 Alaska mile. You will also earn an additional 5000 Alaska Miles if you transfer your Marriott 60,000 Marriott points at one time.
To get Marriott Bonvoy points, you can sign up for these two credit cards (you can get both cards at once):
If you get this card, you can earn 51,000 Marriott points after spending $3000 within 90 days of being approved for the Marriott Bonvoy AMEX. This card has an annual fee of $120.
If you get this card, you can earn 51,000 Marriott points after spending $3000 within 90 days of being approved for the Marriott Bonvoy Business AMEX. This card has an annual fee of $150.
I would personally not go the Marriott to Alaska miles transfer route unless you’re close to topping up your Alaska Miles. In my opinion, Marriott points are better used for redeeming stays at Marriott hotel properties.
Buying Alaska miles
If you prefer, you can also buy Alaska Miles during promotional periods. The promotion varies for every person and it’s usually between 35-50% bonus points. Here is an example of a recent purchase Alaska Miles promotion:
- If you buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles, you will get a 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 29,000 miles, get a 35% bonus
- Buy 30,000 – 60,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
What this means is if you buy 60,000 Alaska Miles, they’ll give you 30,000 Alaska Miles bonus. This means you’ll end up with 90,000 Alaska Miles for $1,773.75 USD (1 Alaska mile = $0.02). This is still an amazing deal because for 70,000 Alaska Miles, you can fly on Cathay Pacific first class which would typically cost you $9000 or more.
Best ways to redeem your Alaska Airlines Miles
- Cathay Pacific first class from Canada or US to Asia (bonus – fly to Hong Kong on first class then connect to Johannesburg on business class) for 70,000 miles
- Cathay Pacific business class from the Canada or US to Australia for 60,000 miles
- Japan Airlines first class from Vancouver to Japan (bonus – use Tokyo as your first stopover and pick another Asian city as your destination) for 70,000 miles
- Japan Airlines business class from Vancouver to Japan (bonus – use Tokyo as your first stopover and pick another Asian city as your destination) – 60,000 miles
- LATAM business class from the US to South America for 45,000 miles
- Hainan business class from Canada or US to Asia for 50,000 miles
- Fiji Airways business class from the US to Australia/New Zealand for 55,000 miles
- Fiji Airways business class from Canada or US to Fiji (use as a stopover) then continue on to a Pacific Island nation (such as Tonga or Samoa) for 55,000 miles
- Icelandair business class from Canada or US to Europe for 55,000 miles
- Korean Air business class from Canada or US to Southeast Asia for 60,000 miles (roundtrip required)
How to redeem your Alaska Airlines Miles
Alaska Airlines Awards chart
In order to redeem your Alaska Airlines Miles, you must first look at the Alaska Airlines awards chart.
After you’ve determined where you want to go and how many miles it will cost you, it’s time to make a redemption.
Redeeming Alaska Airline miles is pretty straight forward. They don’t have crazy rules like Aeroplan where you must book below your maximum permitted mileage. As long as the routing exist and there’s availability, you’re good to go.
The best tool to use to find if routing exist is flightconnections.
However, Alaska Airlines has a bunch of rules that were recently added or were there already previously. Here are some of the rules I remember off the top of my head:
- Japan Airline flights can only be booked in Asia or between North America and Asia.
- Flights with carriers like Cathay Pacific and LATAM can only redeemed booked over the phone.
- Intra Asia stopovers are not allowed (recently added).
- Stopovers are allowed on one way flights unless stated otherwise.
- Stopovers are usually in airport hub cities for (sometimes, fifth freedom flights works).
- Booking with more than two partner carriers is not allowed. However, booking with one carrier + Alaska Airlines is allowed.
- The Alaska Airlines companion fare voucher is only allowed with Alaska Airlines flights.
- You cannot redeem a flight on Emirates between Europe and the Middle East.
- You also cannot redeem a British Airways flight from Europe to Asia, you can only do this redemption on Cathay Pacific.
- If booking an intra-Asia flight, you must book 72-hours in advanced for Cathay Pacific, Hainan Airlines, and Japan Airlines. Other routing is not affected and can still be booked last minute.
Booking your Alaska Airline Miles online is pretty straight forward. Make sure you select “use miles” then pick if you want to book a round-trip, one-way, or multi-city.
However, if you want to take advantage of booking a stopover within your one way flight, you can use the multi-city option to do this.
Most people think the multi-city option is for booking a round trip flight with two stopovers. However, with Alaska Airlines, you can simply use multi-city to book a one way flight with a free stopover in the middle. In the example below, the goal is to fly to New Delhi, India but on the way there, we are first going to do a 5-day stopover in Tokyo Japan.
Redeeming Alaska Airlines Miles on Cathay Pacific or LATAM (Phone booking only)
Some of Alaska Airlines partner carriers such as Cathay Pacific and LATAM cannot be booked online. The only way to book them is by calling the Alaska Airlines call centre. However, before calling, you need to make sure there is availability for the flight you want to redeem using your Alaska Miles. Unfortunately, the Alaska Airlines online portal doesn’t show you the availability of Cathay Pacific and LATAM. This means you’ll have to use another One World partner’s frequent flyer program to do your search.
Since Cathay Pacific and LATAM are both part of the One World alliance, you can simply use a One World partner to do your search. Many individuals use the British Airways portal. However, I personally think the Qantas portal is much easier to use and shows you an entire month’s worth of availability as shown below.
Once you’ve found the availability for the flight you want to redeem, you can go ahead and call Alaska airlines over the phone to complete your booking. Their contact number according to the Alaska Airlines website is: 1-800-252-7522
Simply reference your findings when putting together your flight and mention if you plan on having a stopover in one city before continuing on to another city (you’re allowed one stopover on non-intra-Asia flights).
Alaska Airlines charges a $12.50 USD partner airline booking fee. They will also charge you $15 for booking over the phone. There is also a change and cancellation fee of $125. However, if your booking is over 60 days before departure, you can get this change or cancel your flight redemption for free.
Alaska Airlines Miles expiration
Your Alaska Airlines Miles will expire if you don’t have any activity in your account after 24 months. You can prevent this from happening by buying Alaska Miles, signing up and getting the credit card sign up bonus miles. You can also spend money on your Alaska Airlines credit card to get a few miles into your Alaska miles account. Finally, doing a redemption will also create an activity within your account pushing the expiry date of your miles for another 24 months.
Upgrading to “First Class”
If you buy an Alaska Airlines flight out of pocket or if you use your companion fare voucher to book a flight for two people, then you are eligible to upgrade your seats to “First Class” for just 15,000 Alaska Miles. They call it “First Class” but from my experience, it’s more a not-so-good business class flight. I’ve done this upgrade before and I can’t honestly recommend it to anyone.
Redeeming Alaska miles on Alaska Airlines on short haul flights
Did you know you can redeem your Alaska Miles for short haul flights in North America? This is an awesome redemption for those who lives in Vancouver or Calgary who wants to take advantage of the very little points required to fly to some of the American cities in the west coast of North America.
Alaska Airlines elite status
Here are the elite status levels you can earn with Alaska Airlines and their benefits:
- MVP Gold
- 75K MVP Gold
- Million Miler – Fly 1,000,000 miles with Alaska Airlines and get lifetime MVP Gold status
Alaska Airlines Mileage plan is one of my favourite frequent flyer programs in Canada. If you’re someone that loves travelling in style or you simply want more flexibility when redeeming your miles, then you definitely need to start collecting Alaska Miles.
From my personal point of view, Alaska Airlines Miles are best used for booking business or first class flights. This is complimentary to British Airways Avios which, in my opinion, is best booked on economy for short haul flights.
So don’t wait and start collecting Alaska Miles and start travelling to all your dream destinations!