Alaska Takes Top Spot Among US Airline Award Programs

by Miles Jackson

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are among my favorite mileage currencies out there. Alaska still has a frequent flyer program, Mileage Plan, that allows its members to earn miles based on distance and fare class flown. That’s in contrast to American, Delta and United’s programs which are revenue-based.

U.S. News released its list of the best airline rewards programs, and for the fifth straight year, Alaska Airlines took the top spot. It won the No. 1 spot based on its “high award choice availability and its large network of flight routes to popular destinations.”

Also, U.S. noted “the program’s mileage-based earning structure makes it easier for members to earn miles for free flights faster.”

Delta also decided to gloat over their number two finish on the list. They produced an article on their own News Hub, touting “Delta SkyMiles once again named a Best Travel Rewards Program.” Uhm, okay, sure. But Delta didn’t get the number one slot.

On a per mile basis, I value Alaska Airlines miles more than any other airline miles. They don’t have a real airline alliance. Rather, Alaska partners with individual airlines, producing a lot of value in mileage redemptions for air travel with some of those partners.

FYI: Redeeming Miles on Alaska Airlines Partners

  • Aer Lingus
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Fiji Airways
  • Icelandair
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Ravn Alaska
  • American Airlines
  • Condor
  • Finnair
  • Japan Airlines
  • PenAir
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Qantas

*Alaska Airlines does have a partnership with Singapore Airlines, however it’s not possible to redeem Alaska miles on Singapore Airlines at this time. Alaska has promised this should change in the near future.

Awesome Uses Of Alaska Miles

Cathay Pacific

Mileage Plan redemptions on Cathay Pacific first and business class are excellent uses of these miles. Take a look at the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Cathay Pacific:

Alaska Airlines Top Rewards Program Cathay Pacific

Alaska allows stopovers on their awards so you can get some tremendous value out of a Cathay Pacific redemption.

How To Use Alaska Miles To Fly Japan Airlines
How To Use Alaska Miles To Get To India 

Japan Airlines

Let’s look at the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Japan Airlines:

Alaska Airlines Top Rewards Program Japan Airlines

For example, redeeming just 65,000 miles for a business class ticket from the US to Southeast Asia is a fantastic deal. Using Alaska’s generous stopover allowance, you can fly from the US to Tokyo, have a stopover for several days, and then continue to Bangkok, Singapore, etc. In addition, for just 10,000 more miles you can book into first class, which is an excellent deal, if you can find availability.

Alaska Airlines Top Rewards Program Seattle Boeing Aircraft

(Image: Miles Jackson)

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

While Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t partner with any of the major transferable points currencies, there are some other useful ways to earn their miles:

Earning Alaska Mileage Plan Miles With Alaska Credit Cards

Both the Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card and Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card are excellent options for earning Alaska miles. Both cards are offering welcome bonuses of up to 40,000 Mileage Plan miles, plus $121+ companion certificates, upon completing minimum spend.

Earning Alaska Miles With Other Credit Cards

Alaska Airlines does have a transfer partnership with Marriott Bonvoy, so you can transfer over Marriott points. The ratio for that is that 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points converts into 25,000 Alaska miles (if you convert in different increments it’s a 3:1 ratio). Unfortunately, Alaska doesn’t partner with Amex, Capital One, Chase, or Citi.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Related: My Best Ever Marriott Redemption? JW Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort and Spa

The Upshot

I agree with the U.S. News’s ranking Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan as the number one awards program. The partnerships it has with other carriers plus free stopover on award redemptions are super valuable. Meanwhile, Delta has great on-time performance, but SkyMiles aren’t great since hiding the award charts and constant devaluations. You can find many a few ways to get Alaska miles and redemption options are great.

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