Free One Ways on Alaska Airlines Awards

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You can add a free one way to one way awards booked with Alaska Airlines miles. That means you can add two free one ways to roundtrip awards.

A free one way is a separate trip, separated by days or months from your main trip, that adds zero extra miles to the cost of your award.

For instance, if you live in Los Angeles a free one way would be:

  • fly from Sydney to Los Angeles for 42,500 miles in economy
  • months later fly from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on the same award for zero extra miles
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Free One Way in Green is Taken Months Later and Adds Zero Miles to Price

(Yes, this is a legal free one way with Alaska miles.)

Alaska Airlines has the most generous free one way policy in many ways.

  • You can add free one ways to one way awards
  • You can add free one ways to Mexico
  • You can add free one ways to Hawaii (even when the main award goes to Asia or Australia)
  • You can backtrack on your free one way
  • You can end your main award at one airport in a city and start your free one way at another airport in the city (like flying into Newark and out of JFK)
  • Alaska has amazing partners, and free one ways are available on awards that use any partner.
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You can book awards on these airlines with Alaska miles

But there are limitations on free one ways. The biggest one:

  • On any one way award with Alaska Airlines miles, you can only fly one Alaska Airlines partner in addition to Alaska Airlines.

I’ll talk through this limitation and others in my full explanation of how to book free one ways with Alaska Airlines miles.

  • How do you book a free one way with Alaska miles?
  • Which partners are searchable online?
  • Where can your free one way go?
  • In which cabin can you fly your free one way?
  • How can you get Alaska miles?

How to Book an Alaska Airlines Award with a Free One Way

How to Search

Most free one ways can be booked right on alaskaair.com where you can search award space for almost all Alaska Airlines partners including:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Horizon Air
  • AeroMexico
  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways (fuel surcharges)
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Fiji
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • Qantas
  • Ravn Alaska (flights within Alaska)
  • PenAir (flights within Alaska)

The only two partners you cannot search and book on alaskaair.com are Cathay Pacific and LAN Airlines. Both are searchable on ba.com (here’s how), and bookable by calling Alaska at 800-252-7522 from 5 AM to midnight PT.

Begin your award search here and select “Multi-city” and “Use Miles.”

Type your main one way award and your free one way into two separate lines of the “Cities & Dates” fields and select the dates for each. Click “Find Flights.”

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The above image shows someone who lives in Los Angeles who is searching for a main award home from Sydney to Los Angeles in April and a free one way award from Los Angeles to Portland in August.

The search results look like this.

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To see the date of each individual flight, click on “1 stop” (or however many stops the itinerary has) under the individual itinerary.

For the first itinerary in the search results, the pop up detailing the flights looks like this.

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You can see there is a 106-day stopover between the main award to Los Angeles and the free one way to Portland.

Since Sydney to Los Angeles costs 42,500 Alaska Airlines miles flying Qantas, the later flight from Los Angeles to Portland is a free one way. It adds zero miles to the award price.

Rules

  • Your free one way can go TO your home airport BEFORE the main award or FROM your home airport AFTER the main award. This will be obvious if you understand that a free one way is based on a stopover at your home airport not any sort of magic.
  • There is no limit to the length your stopover at home can be that separates your two trips. That being said, you can only book flights 11 months in advance, so fitting both the main trip and free one way into this window is the limit.
  • One way awards can only include one partner airline. You can either fly just that airline or that airline plus Alaska. This really limits some free one way possibilities if you don’t live at an airport with lots of Alaska flights.
  • The only airlines that cannot be booked one way are Delta and Korean. This is not a SkyTeam thing because Air France and KLM can be booked one way.
  • Your free one way can go to/from Hawaii.
  • Your free one way can go to/from Mexico.
  • Your free one way can go to/from Canada.
  • There is no rule against backtracking for your free one way.

Other Topics

  • Backtracking
  • Mixed Cabin Awards
  • Free One Ways Using Exclusively American Airlines Flights
  • Co-Terminal Free One Way
  • Free One Way on Delta/Korean?
  • Backtracking with a Free One Way to Hawaii
  • Free One Way on Award to Mexico
  • Qantas First on an A380 + A Free One Way
  • What Cabin Can Your Free One Way Be In?
  • How Alaska’s Award Charts Work

Backtracking

I searched for a free one way from Seattle to Los Angeles before a one way award from Los Angeles to Dubai.

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The results had the main award route back through Seattle.

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That meant that back-to-back flights were SEA-LAX and LAX-SEA, 120 days apart.

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This presented no problem, which shows that backtracking on a free one way is no problem.

Mixed Cabin Award

If the price of the award has a little seat icon, then you are not in the cabin you are paying for on every leg.

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Selecting the award leads to a pop up that details the cabin of each flight.

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This award would be foolish to pay 72,500 miles for, since only one short leg is in a premium cabin. If, on the other hand, the domestic flights were in coach, and the long one were in a premium cabin, I would probably book the award.

Free One Way to/from Mexico

I searched for a main award from Fiji to Los Angeles in March and a later free one way to Puerto Vallarta in September.

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The award priced at 40,000 miles one way, which is the same price as if I had ended it in Los Angeles, instead of adding a free one way to Mexico six months later.

Free One Way Entirely on American

All the examples I’ve given have used one partner internationally and then Alaska for a free one way. That is limiting because not everyone lives where Alaska flies, and not everyone wants to take their free one way where Alaska flies.

You can also book an award with Alaska Airlines miles that flies only American Airlines and includes a free one way.

I searched for a one way home to Dallas from a ski weekend in January followed by a one way to Buenos Aires in April.

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The award priced out at 30,000 miles plus taxes and Alaska’s $12.50 fee for one way bookings on partner airlines despite the three-month stopover in Dallas.

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No Free One Ways on One Way Delta or Korean Awards

Korean and Delta awards must be booked roundtrip. You could add one free one way to a roundtrip award that flew one of those airlines.

But if you book a one way award, while I guess you can technically add a free one way, you are paying the roundtrip price, so it is not worth booking.

Here is a search from Seattle home to Detroit and then nine months later a one way trip to Amsterdam.

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Because the award is on Delta flights, you pay the roundtrip 60,000 miles. Hopefully Delta flights will be bookable with Alaska miles as one way awards at the one way price starting January 1, 2015 when Delta will allow one way award bookings with its own miles.

Co-Terminal is OK

I searched for a free one way that flew into Newark even though the main award started at JFK. That was fine.

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The award, which included Alaska and KLM flights, priced out at 32,500 miles, which is the price of a one way award to Europe on KLM with Alaska miles.

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With or without the flight from Seattle to Newark, the award is the same price, so Seattle to Newark is a free one way.

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Free One Way on Awards to Mexico

Since Mexico is in North America, I wanted to check whether you can get a free one way on awards there. You can.

One way awards to Mexico are 17.5k/32.5k Alaska miles in economy/business on AeroMexico.

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That’s the same price whether you add a free one way to your home airport four months before the award to Mexico or not.

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Free One Way Plus Qantas First

It is technically possible to add a free one way onto an award in Qantas First Class on an A380. But space in Qantas First Class between the United States and Australia is so rare, and almost exclusively available about 11 months out that that 11 month booking window comes into effect.

Here is a free one way from Los Angeles to Portland adding nothing to the 70,000 mile price of a First Class award from Melbourne to Los Angeles.

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Unfortunately the free one way is only six days after the main award because the space is being booked 11 months out.

Free One Way to Hawaii After Return from Asia and Australia

Some award routing rules make it impossible to backtrack by flying from Asia or Australia to the continental United States to Hawaii. You can see why, since it’s quite a roundabout way to get from Asia or Australia to Hawaii.

For instance, the following award from Seoul to Hawaii is 11,000 miles flown versus about 4,500 on a direct flight.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 1.39.00 AM

And yet you can book the flights pictured above for only 25,000 American Airlines miles on American Airlines and Alaska flights. If you live in Dallas or Seattle, this opens up free one way possibilities.

Here is a free one way to Honolulu after a return trip from Seoul if you live in Seattle.

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There are eight and a half months between trips.

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You can also take a free one way to Hawaii after a return from Australia.Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 4.51.42 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 4.51.51 PM

What Cabin Can Your Free One Way Be In?

  • If your main award is in First Class, your free one way can be in First Class or economy.
  • If your main award is in Business Class, your free one way can be in First Class or economy.
  • If your main award is in Premium Economy, your free one way must be in economy.
  • If your main award is in economy, your free one way must be in economy.

Alaska Airlines miles are the only American miles that can book Premium Economy on partners that feature that cabin.

Alaska Airlines Award Charts

Alaska Airlines has a different chart for every partner to every region. Here are the charts to Europe, and you can choose different regions along the left hand side of the page. All of Alaska’s charts are region-to-region charts.

A region-to-region chart means that instead of having to calculate the number of miles for an award from your origin city to your destination city, say Atlanta to Rome, you merely figure out how many miles you need for an award from your origin region to your destination region, in this case North America to Europe.

Getting Alaska Miles

You can get Alaska Airlines miles from Alaska Airlines co-branded credit cards and Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards.

Alaska Airlines cards usually have very small sign up bonuses in the 25k to 30k mile range, but you can get a new one every 91+ days without closing the old ones.

Starwood Preferred Guest cards also have 25k or 30k sign up bonuses. Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred.

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See Also



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37 COMMENTS

    • I don’t see anything that prohibits that, but I can’t definitively say yes. The only airline I know that doesn’t allow award changes after the first leg is US Airways.

  1. wondering if it has to be lowest award not refundable award? thinking about akl-hkg-ord-sea-lih. Is that possible? Thank you.

    • You can only fly one partner plus Alaska OR one partner without Alaska. This refers to the operating carrier.

  2. I have been collecting AS miles to fly CX, where I would have to phone in to make the reservation. Would trying to add a free one way be advisable or not with a phone reservation?

    • It is fine. Just use the word stopover and not free one way. How will the agent know where you live?

  3. Scott, how flexible are United free one ways? For example, if I fly SFO-Europe-SFO on a UA award, and want to consider SFO my stopover on the return, how far can I go with the “free one way”?

  4. I just used points to book a round trip from ANC to Chicago….and saw your post after I pulled the trigger….I have 24 hours…..can I book free one ways on a round trip ticket, or can they only be done on one way tickets?

    • You can definitely add free one ways to roundtrips. But you cannot have stopovers on purely domestic awards, which means no free one way.

  5. Alaska will let you change the date of the ‘free one-way’ at no charge 60 days out and beyond. They now charge $125 to make changes within the 60 day period.

  6. Glad I stumbled upon your blog. I was going to book a one way LAX-PPT for 40k miles each for me & my hubby and would’ve lost out on this free one way concept.

    I plugged in various routes of trips I’m interested in and found a couple (so thank you again), but where I’m getting stumped on is (and I think it follows the rules since when I search each leg individually it’s showing as an award flight): I can’t get HNL-LAX then LAX-PPT. Yet I can get YVR-LAX/LAX-PPT and SYD-LAX/LAX-HNL (the other itineraries I’m interested in).

    Why is it that using PPT/HNL it won’t work? It’s only one Alaska partner (to PPT) and the HNL flight shows American as a flight but also Alaska, so shouldn’t it show up instead of an error message? Just wondering what I’m doing wrong?

    What a great blog! Just got back from a trip and am jet lagged so I took the day off work and have been reading your blog and planning our next vaca all day 🙂

      • Hi Scott,

        Thanks for your reply. Can you clarify when you say HNL-LAX isn’t allowed since they don’t fly there because when I do a search, it shows alaska flies that route but just not direct (HNL-SEA then SEA-HNL).

        Is this free concept only good for routes that Alaska flies direct? Because when I plugged YVR-LAX, that was a connecting flight too and it worked (as did LAX-HNL on the SYD-LAX trip) which is why I’m confused HNL-LAX wouldn’t work since you can get there on Alaska flights?

        Thanks again 🙂

        • Of course, a connecting flight! Not sure how I overlooked that.

          OK, then the problem might be the massive backtracking involved from HNL-PPT via SEA and LAX.

          • Oooooh, so they don’t view it as HNL-LAX (because that’s showing availability on Alaska air as awards when I search it that way)….but they view it was HNL-PPT kind of ignoring the LAX part? Is that what a free stopover is- they consider PPT the final destination, not HNL-LAX then LAX-PPT?

            So it’s not 100% impossible to get it, just a matter of if there’s availability?

            Regardless, if I can’t piggy back it w/ HNL-LAX, I’ll still take whatever add’l leg I can get out of it (my hubby and I do repositioning cruising and thanks to one of the best posts I’ve read, you have helped me get 2 flights to cruise ports out of one award (then we just sail home).

            You’ve opened a whole new world for us and I just wanna thank you b/c we can go on more repositioning cruises now!

            Thank you, Scott!

          • A stopover is just part of a journey from A to B. A to B needs to be valid, and may have routing rules. You’re trying to HNL (A) to PPT (B). That is fine. But going A to B via C (LAX) is probably not OK. This is just a guess because no airline publishes accurate routing rules for its awards. Try somewhere in the continental United States to LAX (stop) to PPT.

  7. So, can I book, say, OGG-SMF (stopover for a few months), SMF-JNB on Cathay, JNB-SMF on Cathay (stopover for a few months), then SMF-OGG all in one First-Class booking @ 140K Alaska miles each?

  8. Sorry, I meant SFO not SMF. I tired and found some availability on other airlines – do I have to phone in for the Cathay Pacific flights? If so, how can I search what’s available?

    • Cathay Pacific awards must be booked by phone. I’m not sure whether you can start the award in Hawaii and backtrack to the mainland. Test it out and let us know the results.

  9. OK, thanks. I first have to choose some dates, but I will let you know what happens. You do say above “There is no rule against backtracking for your free one way.” but maybe that is out-of-date.

  10. I will be in Peru in Nov. 2016 and would be flying on Alaska or British Airway miles. My home location will be JFK, however I’m wondering if I can get a free one way to Hawaii or Mexico the award flight will be On LAN to JFK
    Looking for possibilities any help will be appreciated

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