Using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to Fly To India

As an expat based in India for the most part of last decade, I have narrowed down on ways to effectively use miles to enjoy luxury vacations from the subcontinent without breaking the bank.

I hope everyone enjoyed my previous post about using American’s AAdvantage program on flights to and from India.

Despite the fact that there is no Oneworld partner airline based in India, I try to be loyal to both American Airlines as well as Alaska Airlines, two U.S. airlines that have fantastic award charts for those living in India. This might come as a surprise to some, given the diversity of frequent flyer programs out there, but stick with me. I would like to throw light on the Alaska Mileage Plan and the value it offers from the Indian Subcontinent.

Cathay Pacific India First Class Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Cathay Pacific First Class redemption is one of the best in the industry in terms of value when booked with Alaska Mileage Plan Miles.

Cathay Pacific First Class redemption is one of the best in the industry in terms of value when booked with Alaska Mileage Plan Miles.

Using Alaska Mileage Plan miles from India

Alaska Airlines is my second favorite frequent flier program after American AAdvantage when it comes to award travel. Its partner award chart offers fantastic value in both Coach and Premium cabin travels, particularly when used with top-notch partners like Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways and Qatar. Here are some exciting opportunities presented by Alaska Airlines for people based in the Indian Subcontinent.

India to Europe on Finnair (Added Recently)

Considering Europe is about seven to eight hours from India’s major cities, the rates from India to Europe are remarkable. Finnair award seats appear when using the ‘Use Miles’ search check box on www.alaskaair.com.

  • Economy – 25,000 miles one-way
  • Business Class – 45,000 miles one-way
American AAdvantage Miles Europe to India

Finnair has installed great business class seats and is renowned for onboard service (and its lounge sauna in Helsinki). Image by Finnair

India to Asia on Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines present the best value in terms of miles while flying to Asia, and flights are very easy to search for. All available Japan Airlines seats will show up in a ‘Use Miles’ search on www.alaskaair.com.

  • Economy: 15,000 miles, one-way
  • Business: 25,000 miles, one-way
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Japan Airlines to India

Japan Airlines offers the apex suites in business class and coupled with their best in class service, one cannot go wrong with their choice.

India to Asia on Cathay Pacific

Another incredible value is flying to Asia on incredible carriers like Cathay Pacific. The prices using Alaska Mileage Plan are so good it’s hard not to fly in the premium cabin.

Searching for Cathay Pacific award seats is a bit of a trick, however, as they don’t show up on alaskaair.com. Use one of Cathay’s other partner’s, either British Airways or Qantas Frequent Flyer, to see which seats Cathay is making available for mileage redemption, then call Alaska to book.

It takes just a couple of minutes to set up a frequent flyer account with either British Airways or Qantas, and its worth the ease of being able to search online.

  • Economy: 22,500 miles, one-way
  • Premium Economy: 25,000 miles, one-way
  • Business: 30,000 miles, one-way
  • First: 45,000 miles, one-way

Note, I’ve very rarely seen Cathay open first class seats out of India.

Excellent Reverse Herringbone Business Class Seats

India to North America on Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines also presents the best value in terms of miles for travel to North America from India. However Japan Airlines only flies from New Delhi (DEL) and lack of any local domestic partners for Alaska Mileage, one cannot add a domestic leg to this reservation.

  • Economy: 35,000 miles, one-way
  • Business: 60,000 miles, one-way

India to North America on Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific presents the best value when flying First Class amongst every airline alliance on the planet. With Cathay Pacific’s magnificent Hong Kong First Class Lounge, amazing service and luxurious seat you’ll be spoiled and likely find it extremely hard to fly anything but first.

  • Economy: 35,000 miles, one-way
  • Premium Economy: 55,000 miles, one-way
  • Business: 62,500 miles, one-way
  • First: 70,000 miles, one-way

India to North America on Emirates

Alaska Mileage Plan presents decent redemption opportunities while flying with Emirates the largest of the Middle Eastern Carriers. Emirates flights do appear in searches on alaskaair.com.

  • Economy: 42,500 miles, one-way
  • Business: 82,500 miles, one-way
  • First: 150,000 miles, one-way

Emirates new Business Class Cabin. Source: Emirates

India to North America on Finn Air

Alaska Mileage plan’s newest redemption partner offers good value when it comes to Economy class travel.

  • Economy: 42,500 miles, one-way
  • Business: 110,000 miles, one-way

India to North America on British Airways

Though Alaska Mileage plan presents decent redemption opportunities, the hefty surcharges imposed by British Airways seldom make sense. British Airways flights appear on alaskaair.com, but be aware that the website will show mixed cabin awards, so make sure your long-haul flight isn’t actually in economy before booking.

  • Economy: 50,000 miles, one-way
  • Premium Economy: 60,000 miles, one-way
  • Business: 70,500 miles, one-way
  • First: 80,000 miles, one-way

India to North America on Korean Air

Alaska Mileage plan only allows round-trip redemptions on Korean air and also the space available is extremely limited, but does appear on alaskaair.com.

  • Economy: 100,000 miles, round-trip
  • Business: 140,000 miles, round-trip

Step One: Searching & Booking Flights

Many of the partners listed above can be searched and booked online on the Alaska Airlines website. Cathay Pacific awards must be booked by calling Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Customer Care at 1-800-252-7522.

Alaska Mileage Plan offers no holds other than a standard 24 hr cancellation policy.

  • Alaska Mileage plan charges a $125 fee for any changes or cancellations to award ticket
    bookings
  • Charges are waived for Alaska MVP Golds and MVP Gold 75Ks

Earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles as an Expat

While there are plenty of redemption opportunities presented by Alaska Mileage plan for someone living in India (or traveling onward from India), earning miles (as always) here can be a bit more tricky. Flying domestically in India, I really don’t have any way to credit my travel to my Alaska Mileage Plan frequent flyer program.

Most of Alaska Airlines partners operate a significant number of flights out of multiple cities within India. Emirates, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines (As of today one can only earn but not redeem Alaska Miles on Singapore Airlines) being the most popular ones. Paid flights on those carriers can be credited to Alaska Mileage Plan and earning rates in the premium cabin are very generous when compared to traditional airline alliances.

The Alaska Mileage Plan Visa Credit Card can be an excellent way of hoarding Alaska Mileage Plan miles, Visa is widely accepted in India and this card does not have any foreign transaction fees.

The Alaska Mileage Plan program has regular promotions where they sell miles for around $0.02. You can buy an unlimited number of miles per account per year.

Upshot

Lack of immediate partners on the Indian Subcontinent and by not belonging to any of the traditional Airline alliances, Alaska Mileage plan is often overlooked as an award travel option.

Given the availability, award prices and airline products one has available in this region.  Alaska Mileage Plan is actually my second favorite choice (tough decision!!!) for award travel.

I would like readers to review my previous article, compare American AAdvantage to Alaska Mileage plan and rate which of the two programs is better if you were in my shoes!!!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Very, very good article. I like collecting AA miles and Alaska miles respectively. Cathay Pacific has several flights to India from HKG but they don’t have First Class to India so you either get Business Class from USA-HKG-India the whole way, or you can pay for First Class from USA to HKG and then get Business Class to India. Same with JAL, no First Class to India.
    AA normally has more access to JAL & Cathay First Class and Business Class than Alaska.
    AA also has plenty of access to First Class or Business Class on either BA or AA to LHR and then LHR to India, but BA does have carrier imposed fees.
    AA also partners with Etihad and Qatar airways which have great First Class seats.

    • True that!!! However, Cathay charges 70K Alaska miles for first class to India and 62.5K Alaska miles for its business class. I feel it is a no-brainer to spend the extra 7.5k miles for the superior first class product (better seat, service and an amazing lounge in HongKong)

  2. “Note, I’ve very rarely seen Cathay open first class seats out of India.”

    It’s not that they don’t open it, it’s that they typically don’t operate or sell it…

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