7 Awesome Alaska Awards w/Free Stopovers & How to Book Them

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I’m a big fan of Alaska miles, because of the free stopovers on one way awards and great mix of partners from multiple alliances.

Alaska Mileage Plan Basics

Before we get into potential redemptions and stopover destinations, let’s go over some basics about the program.

Partners

Alaska has a varied array of oneworld, SkyTeam, and non-allied airline partners:

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Here are the award charts for flying Alaska and its partners.

LATAM and Cathay Pacific award space cannot be found on alaskaair.com. Search with British Airways award search engine instead. You’ll have to call Mileage Plan at 1-800-654-5669 to book them.

Every other partner’s award space can be searched and booked on alaskaair.com.

Routing Rules

  • You cannot combine two partners’ flights on a one way award or in one direction on a roundtrip award. Alaska lets you use one partner plus Alaska flights. This could affect your ability to get all the home on a single Alaska award if you don’t live in a city served by Alaska Airlines.
  • You can book one way awards on most partners, but not Delta and Korean (or I guess, technically, you can book one ways, but you’ll pay the roundtrip price for them).
  • Alaska Airlines awards can have one stopover per one way award or two per roundtrip. There is no limit to the length your stopover, and your stopover could be your home airport which means you can get a free one way award (more on this below).

Searching for Award Space When Including a Stopover

If you want to include a stopover on your Alaska award, you’re going to have a much easier time searching segment-by-segment. For example, take the first award listed below: United States > Tokyo (stopover) > Delhi in Japan Airlines First Class. First search for the segment with less available award space, which is usually the longest segment to a gateway airport and in this case is Los Angeles > Tokyo, and then the other segment.

Once you have found award space for both of your desired segments, search using the “Multi-city” function by ticking the Multi-city box (as well as the “Use Miles” box).

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Going straight to multi-city searching is going to present issues like the ones described in Troubleshooting the Alaska Free One Way Search.

The multi-city search tool will only return results if there is award space for both segments the exact number of days apart as you originally specified. So if you specified a 10 day stopover on your trip, alaskaair.com will only show space with 10 days between it, leaving out a lot of other space that you may be open to if you’re flexible.

Seven Examples of High Value Redemptions With Potential Stopovers

 1. 70k Alaska miles: United States > Tokyo (stopover) > Delhi in Japan Airlines First Class

This just became possible in December so I’m pretty excited about it. You can now fly JAL First Class to Japan, South Korea, and even India (yes, Alaska’s definition of Asia when it comes to redeeming JAL miles includes India!) for 70,000 Alaska miles, or to Southeast Asia for 75,000.

Japan Airlines First Class
Japan Airlines First Class

That is by far the cheapest way to redeem rewards on JAL First Class, and you even get a stopover!

The only buzzkill is that award space isn’t super prevalent so you need flexible travel plans. First Class award space within a week to a month of departure is your best bet.

2. 70k Alaska miles: United States > Hong Kong (stopover) > Bangkok in Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class costs 70,000 Alaska miles one way from the United States to Asia or Africa with a free stopover in Hong Kong, or 80,000 miles one way to Australia or New Zealand, again with a free stopover possible in Hong Kong. (Here’s a cool hike to do in Hong Kong.)

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Cathay Pacific Premium Economy to Asia is only 35,000 Alaska miles one way and Business Class is only 50,000.

Remember that Cathay Pacific award space cannot be found on alaskaair.com. Search ba.com first and then call 1-800-654-5669 to book.

Here is Scott’s review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

3. 55k Alaska miles United States > Sydney (stopover) > Perth in Qantas Business Class

It costs just 55,000 Alaska miles to fly to Australia in Qantas flat bed Business Class. And you can continue your journey to the other side of the continent without changing that price. screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-4-30-12-pm

Qantas premium cabin award space to Australia is known for being sparse, but I see plenty of dates available (granted, for one traveler) in November 2017. 55k dates have Business Class space.screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-4-32-58-pm

4. Two Half Trips for the Price of One, 20k Alaska miles: Barcelona > Philadelphia (stopover at your home) > San Francisco in American Airlines economy October 15 – May 15

Alaska still charges the same number of miles for American Airlines flights that American Airlines charged until its massive March 22, 2016 devaluation. That means you can book the following steals (prices listed one way):

  • 20,000 Alaska miles for seven months out of the year in economy to Europe
  • 20,000 Alaska miles for five months out of the year in economy to Southern South America
  • 25,000 Alaska miles for six months out of the year in economy to Japan
  • 30,000 Alaska miles to Peru or Northern South America in Business Class
  • 50,000 Alaska miles in Business Class to Europe, Japan, or Southern South America
  • 62,500 Alaska miles in Business Class to Australia or New Zealand

A free one way is a separate trip, separated by days or months from your main trip, that uses your home airport as the stopover and adds zero extra miles to the cost of your award. Utilizing one of these cheap Alaska awards on American flights and then tacking on a free one way is a great way to maximize the free stopover feature. Just add a free one way somewhere you plan on traveling to in the future, since you’re not inhibited by the length of your stopover beyond the fact that you can only book flights 11 months in advance.

BCN - PHL could be the return of one trip, you can spend 8 months at home in PHL, then fly to SFO as the first half of another trip for only 20k Alaska miles
BCN – PHL could be the return of one trip, you can spend 8 months at home in PHL, then fly to SFO as the first half of another trip for only 20k Alaska miles

The example above would cost 20k Alaska miles (October 15 – May 15), as would just Barcelona to Philadelphia. So if you can’t fit in a stopover on the trip you’re taking with your Alaska miles, you might as well always add a free one way somewhere you plan on hopping over to in the US since you can change the date of the award for free as long as it’s 60 days before departure. Read this post to learn more about maximizing free one ways on Alaska awards.

One of the best parts about redeeming Alaska miles on American Airlines flights is that you can add an American flight to your hometown airport. Alaska only lets you use one partner plus Alaska flights, so if you’re redeeming on Cathay Pacific, for example, you could only use Alaska flights to get from the Cathay Pacific gateway city to your hometown. But in this case, you can plan your free one way as an American flight since the Barcelona to Philadelphia leg is on American.

5. 55k Alaska miles: United States > Fiji (stopover) > New Zealand in Fiji Airways Business Class

You can fly from the United States to Fiji to New Zealand or Australia for only 55,000 Alaska miles one way in Fiji Airways Business Class with a free stopover in Fiji.

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Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton

I’m saving Alaska miles for this redemption. I’ll definitely take advantage of a stopover in Fiji in one of the directions, and in the other direction I’ll add a free one way to somewhere I plan on going in the United States after that since I’ll get two stopovers for a roundtrip.

6. 50k Alaska miles: United States > Beijing (stopover) > Phuket in Hainan Business Class

Alaska charges just 50,000 miles each way in Hainan flat bed Business Class to anywhere in Asia.

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Hainan Airlines flies from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle to Beijing, Shanghai, and Changsha, China with connections throughout China and Asia. Here are its flights from Beijing, which it serves from Boston, Chicago, San Jose, and Seattle:

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Unfortunately there are fuel surcharges of about $140 per direction.

Full details on booking Hainan flights with Alaska miles.

7. 55k Alaska miles: United States > Reykjavík (stopover) > Brussels in Icelandair Business Class

Icelandair awards start at 22,500 miles one way to Iceland and go up to 55,000 miles one way in Business Class to Europe with a stopover in Iceland. I have never seen a partners’ miles be able to book anything other than Low (Saver) space, so that’s pretty cool.

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Unfortunately there are fuel surcharges of about $100 per direction on these awards.

Full details on booking Icelandair awards with Alaska miles.

How to Get Alaska Miles

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles, and both of the Amex SPG cards (personal and business) come with 25k bonuses.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cards (personal and business) each come with 30,000 Alaska miles after meeting a $1k spending requirement and paying the $75 annual fee.

You can also buy Alaska miles, sometimes with pretty decent discounts.

Bottom Line

We value Alaska miles at 1.75 cents each because of the kind of redemptions exemplified above. They are incredibly versatile as Alaska isn’t constrained to one alliance and Mileage Plan has some of the laxest rules around. It’s one of the only loyalty programs that still allows free stopovers on one way awards.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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34 COMMENTS

    • Correct. But remember that the maximum SPG points you should transfer per day to get the most value is 60k… read this post for more info. So if you require a large amount of Alaska miles, you might need to start transferring today.

  1. “20k Alaska miles United States > Rio de Janeiro (stopover) > Buenos Aires in American Airlines economy, March 1 – May 31, and August 16 – November 30”

    AA does not fly between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. Am I missing something?

  2. Amazing coincidence, I have been going back and forth between my option of two of the flights you mentioned above. Either on Hainan to Phuket via Beijing but seeing the smog I’ve been contemplating doing BKK via HKG instead on Cathay Pacific.

    Have you ever been to Beijing before? If so is the smog as bad as being reported? I have to think it’s been there for a while.

    Also how would you compare Hainan Business to Cathay Pacific Business? Would shoot for Cathay First but I’m flying with my wife and don’t want to chance only one of being able to get the seat.

    • Cool! Never been to Beijing. Cathay Pacific Business is nicer than Hainan though from what I’ve read. I’ve actually flown that exact flight, Cathay Pacific Business to Bangkok via Hong Kong–redeemed AA miles back before the devAAluation. It was my first premium cabin experience on an Asian carrier and I really enjoyed it. Don’t miss the Cathay Pacific lounge in Hong Kong! The food was great.

      • Thanks Sarah, I may go with CX then. I’ve heard mixed reviews of CX business class so I wasn’t sure what to think.

          • @CJ I keep hearing that CX is worth it so I’m putting a trip together for it. I wasn’t able to get availability for the dates I need this year so I’m doing Hainan. I’m planning to do CX next year though so I can get the full experience I keep hearing about lol.

  3. If I have an Alaska airlines account but not Virgin America do I need to get an VA elevate account to transfer the miles?

    • Yes, you’ll need a Virgin America Elevate account to transfer your SPG points to. You can create one here. The SPG transfer to Virgin America must happen by tomorrow. Then on January 9 (but not until then), you’ll be able to transfer your Virgin America points to Alaska.

  4. Great article. Thanks! I had no idea there was still so much value in free one-ways. My proudest redemption (a few years ago) was Vancouver -> NYC (Stopvover) -> Dusseldorf (23 hours) -> Zurich in Cathay and AirBerlin business classes for 50k, I think. Anything that gets me more of that is a good thing. My wife and I have over 175k Alaska miles and I’ll definitely keep this post in mind when we cash them in.

  5. Hey Scott,

    One question–thanks to advice from your posts, I’m planning to get two SFO – HND tickets in JAL F. And I see plenty of space in the coming month on BA.com. But for some reason, Alaska only shows one available ticket on each day. So if BA shows 1 available, Alaska will show 1. But if BA shows 4 available, Alaska still only shows 1.

    Do you know why that is? Is it possible to book anyway? Thanks!

    • I’m not sure. I’d call Mileage Plan (1-800-654-5669) to double check…could just be an error.

  6. So tempting to convert my 80k Starwood points to 130k AS miles! But alas, I have a family trip coming up and will be converting to 240k Marriott points instead. Which isn’t too shabby either.

  7. Hi. Great post. I booked SYD to NAN, then NAN to HNL in coach for 27.5k. I’m traveling this summer. I need to change the date of the SYD to NAN segment, however there is no availability on the dates I want. In fact, there is now no availability the last week of July and the first 2 weeks of June for SYD to NAN. In your experience, do you think that there is a good chance that availability will open up closer to the date? This is the peak season for Fiji, so perhaps availability is unlikely. Thanks!

  8. Does the free stopover with a carrier change from one to Alaska also include Virgin? For example, if I fly LAN Biz from LIM to JFK and then want to do JFK to SFO, is that redeemable on one award?

      • Not allowed on Virgin. In this case, one partner plus Alaska means just that, and you can’t sub in Virgin America flights for Alaska flights. For instance, if you search 2/23 DXB-JFK, 2/28 JFK-SFO right now, you’ll get options that fly Emirates plus Alaska but none that fly Emirates plus Virgin America despite 2/28 having plenty of Virgin America award space from JFK-SFO.

  9. Thinking of flying from HNL to AKL at CNew Years with a stop over in Fiji on Fija Air for a few days on Alaska points. What is the longest you can stop over? Nothing up front?
    Any tips and or suggestions great fully appreciated. This is our first (& maybe last) time doing this. Thanks

  10. Can Alaska miles now be used on Cathay Dragon flights? It was my impression previously, Dragonair was not allowed?

    • Dragonair wasn’t allowed. I haven’t tried to redeem for Cathay Dragon, but I think it’s just a name change so I’d guess it’s a no go.

      • Thanks for the response. I do Remember Dragonair was not allowed….am looking into a BOS-HKG-REP itinerary. Will update if HKG-REP on Cathay Dragon is now allowed.

      • Hi Scott,
        As an update, Cathay Dragon is not allowed, as you had guessed.
        So, we changed plans….off to a different continent: JFK-SCL(stop over)-LIM on LAN business class for family of 4….(BTW, tickets on LAN’s website priced out to $32,000 for our itinerary!).
        Thanks again for all the useful info @ milevalue!!

  11. Hello Scott/Sarah.

    When searching the NRT to DEL segment for the LAX to NRT to DEL route, what is the saver level for NRT to DEL? When I search I don’t see first class, only business class at 25K. I checked SeatGuru and that flight only has business and economy, which is fine. However when I search both the 70K LAX to NRT segment, and the 25K NRT to DEL segment under the “multi-city” search, Alaska doesn’t show award space

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