The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a smaller frequent flyer program in Canada compared to its significant presence in the United States. While there may not be as many earning opportunities in Canada, the value of Alaska miles cannot be understated.
That being said, significant value can be extracted from your Alaska miles if you are planning redemptions on any of their partner airlines. Let’s look at the most effective ways to earn and redeem within the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.
Acquiring Alaska Miles
There are four main ways Canadians can acquire Alaska Miles: flying on Alaska Airlines and their airline partners, credit card bonuses, and credit card spending.
Alaska miles can also be purchased, converted to from Marriott Bonvoy points, earned through other travel partners, and via purchases made on the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan shopping portal.
Fly on Alaska Airlines
As with many airline loyalty programs, the most straightforward way to earn Alaska miles is to fly on Alaska Airlines flights. The mileage earned is based on the miles flown combined with the fare class that was purchased.
For in-depth earning rates, see the table below for eligible flights:
As a side note, miles cannot be earned on award redemption tickets.
Fly on Airline Partners
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles can also be earned from flying on partner airlines, including those partners who are a member of the OneWorld Alliance. There are 23 partners that you can earn Alaska miles on, including popular carriers like Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Japan Airlines.
You can learn about the earning rates for each specific partner by visiting this page and clicking on the partner you want to learn more about.
Credit Card Bonuses
There are two Alaska Airlines co-branded credit cards in Canada that are available from MBNA. As with many loyalty programs, these bonuses are significant and are the best way to earn a large amount of Alaska miles.
The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard offers a welcome bonus of 30,000 Alaska miles, an annual fee of $99, and has an income requirement of $80,000 personal income or $150,000 household income.
The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite card earns Alaska Miles and offers cardholders benefits on Alaska Airlines flights, including an annual companion fare and free first checked bag.
Check out our MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite review for more details about this card.
30,000 Alaska Miles
On the other hand, the MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard offers a smaller welcome bonus of 20,000 Alaska miles, a lower annual fee of $75, and no personal or household income requirements.
The MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus card earns Alaska Miles and provides cardholders with an annual companion fare for use on Alaska Airlines.
20,000 Alaska Miles
Bank of America in the United States also offers two Alaska Airlines credit cards:
|Credit Card||Welcome Bonus||Net Value|
|Bank of America Alaska Airlines Business||60,000 Alaska Miles||$1,330||Apply|
|Bank of America Alaska Airlines||60,000 Alaska Miles||$1,305||Apply|
While we won’t go into depth on these US-based credit cards, know that it is possible to sign-up for Bank of America cards as a Canadian.
Credit Card Spending
Another consistent way to earn Alaska miles is to spend on an Alaska Airlines credit card. Both the World Elite and Platinum Plus versions of the MBNA credit cards have the same earning rate:
- 3 Alaska miles for every dollar spent on Alaska Airlines purchases including flight tickets, vacation packages, and cargo purchases
- 1 Alaska mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
Even with the increased earning rate on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, these earning rates are not that strong and it would take you a significant amount of spending to earn a decent amount of Alaska miles.
Purchase Alaska Airlines Miles
If you are looking to top up your Alaska miles balance, loyalty program members are able to purchase miles at a cost of 2.75 cents per point (before tax).
Alaska Airlines does also run sales or bonus point offers from time to time. We have seen bonus offers up to 60% extra points, meaning that if you purchased 100,000 Alaska miles you would receive 160,000 miles.
Alaska Mileage Plan program members are able to purchase up to 150,000 miles in a calendar year. For those who hold MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75k, or MVP Gold 100k status with Alaska, there is no limit on how many miles you can purchase in a calendar year.
Important to note that if you are purchasing miles, it is strongly recommended to use a US credit card else you will be charged GST/HST on top of the transaction.
While my main recommendation for purchasing miles would be topping up your balance to make a redemption, there is a use case for buying miles outright instead of purchasing cash fares.
For this example, let’s assume we purchased 100,000 Alaska miles during a period when Alaska was not running any purchase promotions. All in, with taxes, this would cost $2,956.25 USD. 100,000 Alaska miles can be redeemed fly two people, one-way, in business class on Cathay Pacific from Vancouver-Hong Kong-Tokyo. The total cost of this itinerary for a random date in April would be $7,011.14 USD.
In the above example, simply by purchasing miles and making an award redemption, you would save over $4,000 USD. Throw a bonus points promotion in there, and things get even juicer. Food for thought, but there can be some great opportunities for purchasing miles if you were going to purchase a cash fare.
You can purchase Alaska miles here.
Convert Marriott Bonvoy Points
Compared to other airline loyalty programs, there are not many options to accrue Alaska miles through transferring from other rewards programs. In fact, there is only one option.
Marriott Bonvoy members can choose to convert their Bonvoy points to Alaska miles at a rate of 3:1. However, Marriott will add an additional 5,000 airline miles for every 60,000 Bonvoy converted. This means that the best value is to convert 60,000 Bonvoy to 25,000 Alaska miles.
Using your Bonvoy points in this manner can be a great method to further increase your Alaska balance for your flight redemption. However, it might not be the best call to mindlessly convert all of your Bonvoy points to Alaska without a plan in mind.
You can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska miles here.
Book with Travel Partners
Mileage plan members are able to earn Alaska miles for hotel bookings and cruise bookings. The earning rates vary depending on the partner you are booking with. You can learn more about earning Alaska miles with hotel and cruise partners here.
In addition to hotels and cruises, mileage plan members are able to earn Alaska miles for booking rental cars with partners such as Alamo, Avis, Budget, and more. Miles are typically earned based on how many days you have the rental car for; many rental car agencies offer 50 Alaska miles per day which is a negligible amount. You can learn more about earning Alaska miles with rental cars here.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping Portal
Dubbed the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping portal, members are able to earn Alaska miles for online purchases. Similar to other portals, users will sign into their Alaska Mileage Plan account and then click through to the desired to complete their purchase. Miles will be deposited in their account after the purchase has been verified.
The only caveat is that this portal is designed for US residents since Alaska is a US-based airline. This means that Canadians may have a hard time taking advantage of earning through this portal since many retailers use different domains or even websites for different geographic locations.
Find out more about the shopping portal here.
Redeeming Alaska Miles
Alaska Miles can be redeemed for flights on Alaska Airlines and on Oneworld Alliance and other partner airlines. There are also some excellent sweet spots available when it comes to redeeming Alaska miles.
How To Redeem Alaska Miles for Flights
Redeeming your Alaska Mileage Plan miles is straightforward thanks to the straightforward booking tool. Sign into your Alaska Airlines Mileage account and access the search tool. Ensure you click the “Use miles” button; many routes will show as invalid if you do not select this box.
Once you are on the next screen, you will see all of the available routes to the desired destination on the selected date. If nothing is of interest, it is very easy to switch through dates by selecting another date at the top of the screen. You can also sort by various conditions, such as price and flight duration.
In the example search above, Qatar Airways dynamically prices their award chart which results in a significant difference in mileage cost for the two similar itineraries. Once you decide on the class of service you are redeeming for, simply select that button, and finalize the booking process by entering your personal details and credit card for payment. Similar to other airline programs, you will pay just the taxes and fees on your award ticket.
When you are making a redemption, it is important to note that on many results, you may see a symbol that looks like this:
This is a symbol that identifies a mixed cabin redemption. This means that the entire itinerary is not in the selected class of service. If you click on the symbol, you will receive a pop-up similar to the one below:
This popup will tell you how the itinerary is split based on the class of service. Sometimes mixed cabin itineraries are of no concern, like the one above. Other times, it may have you in business class for a one-hour flight and then economy for the 14-hour flight. Always double-check any mixed cabin redemptions before finalizing the transaction.
Finally, certain airline partners, such as Cathay Pacific, cannot be booked through the online tool. Instead, you will need to call 1-800-252-7522 to speak to an Alaska Airlines reservations agent who will assist you with your booking.
Alaska Mileage Plan Flight Award Chart
Alaska Airlines publishes award charts for all possible travel options from one region to another region. In order to find out how many miles your award flight will cost, utilize the tool here. Simply enter where you are traveling from and where you are going.
Once you select those details, you will see a variety of award charts populate for all Alaska Airlines partners that fly to and from the chosen areas. For example, the award chart for Cathay Pacific, traveling from Continental US, Alaska, or Canada to Asia is below:
The above example shows the per person, one-way cost, for a ticket in the specified class of ticket.
With certain airline partners, you may notice that their award chart states “Starting at…” which indicates that their award prices may be dynamically priced. This means that should be able to find award availability at the lowest level if you look far enough out, but as demand increases for the specific flight or date, the price may increase.
Alaska Mileage Plan Redemption Sweet Spots
Similar to many other airline loyalty programs, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is not short of sweet spots when it comes to redemptions. While there are many to take advantage of, let’s focus on a few key ones that will appeal to many people to give you a sample of what is possible to achieve with your Alaska miles.
Japan Airlines (JAL) first class is a dream experience for many in the miles and points game. With only six seats per plane, this exclusive experience is an excellent way to spend 11+ hours in the air.
JAL first class is bookable at 70,000 Alaska miles per direction. Availability can be sparse, but if you are looking about a year out or within the next few weeks, you might have more luck in finding a seat or two.
On the other hand, for those who are looking to head down under, partner airline Fiji Airways gives you the opportunity to fly from Los Angeles or San Francisco to New Zealand or Australia.
Not to mention, you are also able to add a stopover in Fiji. This would be a great redemption to knock out two desirable destinations at once if you can find availability. Economy class is typically easier to find at 40,000 Alaska miles per direction, however, the odd Business redemption can be found at 55,000 Alaska miles per direction.
There are many other sweet spots available as well – we recommend doing some digging if you are looking for unique ways to redeem your Alaska miles.
Alaska Mileage Plan Free Stopover
Of note, Alaska Airlines allows you to book a free stopover on international award tickets, even if they are booked as a one-way. It is important to remember that you are allowed to have one partner airline coupled with Alaska Airlines flights on an award redemption itinerary and as a result, your options for valid stopovers may be limited.
Additionally, any international stopovers can only be at the hub of the partner airline. For example, if you were flying on Cathay Pacific, you would only be allowed to stop over in Hong Kong on your way to elsewhere in Asia.
If you want to take advantage of booking a stopover, use the “multi-city” booking option when searching for your desired stopover and destination.
Elite Status with Alaska Airlines: MVP status
As with most airlines, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has an elite status program, called MVP status, that grants you exclusive perks and benefits when flying the airline, as well as other Oneworld Alliance airlines and partner airlines.
There are four MVP status levels, as follows: MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K. Status levels are achieved by flying a combination of eligible miles on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld, and partners, as well as a minimum number of overall segments and minimum number of flights operated exclusively by Alaska Airlines.
|Qualifying flights||MVP||MVP Gold||MVP Gold 75K||MVP Gold 100K|
|Eligible miles earned on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld Alliance, and our Global Partners||20,000||40,000||75,000||100,000|
|Eligible segments flown on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld Alliance and our Global Partners||30||60||90||140|
|Qualification via eligible miles or segments must include a minimum number of flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines||2||6||12||24|
As you can see, qualifying for these status levels is actually quite challenging, especially if you don’t typically fly revenue tickets with Alaska.
You can qualify for status alternatively through the Alaska Airlines ‘Status Match Challenge’, which allows you to leverage status with another airline program, for example, Aeroplan, to acquire a similar status level with Alaska Mileage Plan for 90 days.
To retain the status beyond 90 days, you will have to fly the following number of miles on Alaska-operated flights only:
- MVP status — 5,000 miles
- MVP Gold status — 10,000 miles
- MVP Gold 75K status — 20,000 miles
Obtaining status through a status match, if you qualify, is definitely an easier feat than through the regular qualification method.
Benefits of MVP Status
Alaska Airlines MVP status comes with a plethora of benefits, including earning benefits, flight benefits, airport benefits, and service benefits, on both Alaska Airlines and on Oneworld Alliance + Global Partners.
Earning benefits include a boosted earn rate on Alaska miles for flown miles, from 50% for MVP to 150% for MVP Gold 100K.
The flight and airport benefits of the Alaska program are generous and are summarized in the tables below.
|Flight benefits||MVP||MVP Gold||MVP Gold 75K||MVP Gold 100K|
|First Class upgrades at the time of booking||Y, B fares||Y, B, H or K fares||Y, B, H, K or M fares||Y, B, H, K or M fares|
|Premium Class upgrades at the time of booking||Y, B or H fares||Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fares||All fares except Saver fares||All fares except Saver fares|
|First and Premium Class upgrades on Alaska non-qualifying fares||48 hours before departure||72 hours before departure||120 hours before departure||120 hoursHighest waitlist priority|
|Companion upgrades to First Class||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Companion upgrades to Premium Class||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|First Class guest upgrades (max. 4 per year)||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|International upgrade certificates on American Airlines||1 one-way||2 one-way|
|Complimentary premium beverage or chocolate in Main Cabin||✔️||✔️||✔️+ snack|
|Airport benefits||MVP||MVP Gold||MVP Gold 75K||MVP Gold 100K|
|Priority check-in and boarding||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Free checked bags||2||2||3||3|
|Express security line at select airports||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Standby and wait list for full flights||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Alaska Lounge membership discount||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Four Alaska Lounge day passes (max. 4 per year)||✔️||✔️|
Service benefits include priority call routing and Elite Leave for new parents (year extension on your status) for all status members MVP and up.
The full list of MVP Status benefits can be found on AlaskaAir.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I use my Alaska Airline Mileage Plan miles to book an award ticket for someone else?
Yes, you can use your Alaska miles to purchase an award ticket for someone else on Alaska Airlines or any partner airlines. Just fill in their name and details in the Passenger Information section when you make the booking.
- Can I transfer my Alaska miles to another person?
Yes, you can transfer Alaska Airlines miles to a friend or family member, however, there is a cost to doing so. You must pay $10 USD per 1,000 miles, plus a $25 USD processing fee per transaction. You can transfer miles in 1,000 mile increments to a maximum of 30,000 miles. See this page for more details.
- Can I apply for multiple MBNA Alaska Airlines credit cards?
You cannot hold multiple MBNA Alaska Airlines credit cards at the same time. You can however downgrade or product switch the card first and then apply for a card you’ve held previously.
- Can I use my Alaska Airlines Companion Fare with an Alaska miles award redemption?
Unfortunately no, you cannot redeem Alaska miles and a companion fare towards the same flight ticket. In fact, the Alaska companion fare can't be combined with any other discounts.
- I am missing Alaska miles from a recent flight on Alaska Airlines. How can I submit a missing miles request?
If you booked an eligible Alaska Airlines flight with an eligible fare code and did not receive the miles, you can submit a missing miles request here. You will need to provide your mileage plan number and ticket number.