The best way to redeem miles and points is to ultimately redeem them for the flights you desire – yes, there are good and bad redemptions and those that should be booked without question and those that should be avoided – but ultimately, a redemption that makes you happy isn’t a bad redemption. The best kind of miles and points awards include those booked with partner airlines that fall under the sweet spots category – a ticket you can book for an incredible amount of miles, and perhaps less than what other airlines would charge for the same route.
Business Class to South America for 45k Alaska Miles
Alaska Airlines is a member of oneworld but does partner with a bunch of non-oneworld airlines, one of those is LATAM of South America (formerly LAN and TAM that have merged a few years back). LATAM used to be a member of oneworld back in the day and then Delta more or less made them leave the alliance and create a partnership with Delta (though LATAM has not joined SkyTeam).
Alaska Airlines is still partners with LATAM which means you can redeem Alaska Airlines miles for travel on LATAM flights. Alaska recently eliminated most award charts and instead published a simple chart with prices “starting at”, which means Alaska now has the ability to raise mileage redemption rates on their partners without notice (and they already have on a number of airlines). As of now, LATAM awards are still pricing out for the standard rates as before – though this could always change.
Alaska Airlines charges just 45k miles for a one-way Business Class award on LATAM to South America. This means you could fly something like Los Angeles – Lima – Santiago with a free stopover in Lima. You could even add on an Alaska Airlines flight to the booking to get you to your LATAM gateway city in the U.S., pending saver-level availability.
Best of all, you can now search and redeem for LATAM flights directly on Alaska’s website (before you had to find availability elsewhere and call to book).
LATAM’s Route Network
LATAM is a huge airline in Central and South America. They operate a number of flights from different hubs in various countries and currently their U.S. routes include the following:
- to/from Los Angeles
- Sao Paulo
- to/from Boston
- Sao Paulo
- to/from New York JFK
- Sao Paulo
- to/from Miami
- Punta Cana
- Sao Paulo
- to/from Orlando
- Sao Paulo
For the full Business Class experience, you will want to book a long-haul flight – like Santiago to Los Angeles. LATAM does have different Business Class products on their aircraft, so you will want to do research about what the best one is and what route you can find it on to maximize your experience.
Adding a Free Stopover (total 45k Alaska miles)
Alaska Airlines allows you to add a free stopover, even on one-way bookings – just remember you cannot mix partners on an Alaska Airlines award ticket. That is, you must fly either a partner airline or a partner airline and Alaska on one ticket.
When constructing your LATAM itinerary using Alaska Airlines miles, you will want to first decide what two LATAM destination cities you want to visit and then check award availability. Based on the routing above, the easiest way is going to be for you to fly from one of those U.S. gateway cities to a LATAM hub and have a stopover there before continuing on to another LATAM city.
For example, you can fly from New York JFK to Santiago and continue on to Buenos Aires – you can stop in Santiago for no additional miles. You can also add on an Alaska Airlines flight to New York JFK before your first LATAM flight, if there is saver-level availability, for no additional miles.
You can book all of this on Alaska’s website under the “Multi-City” search option. First you should do all of your searches as one-way nonstop flights to find the best availability and later put together the entire award.
All in All
Alaska Airlines still offers some incredible mileage redemptions – just remember that now they can increase the cost of any award without prior notice (something they even did many times in the past when they published an award chart). The airline no longer charges change or cancellation fees on awards so you can always lock something in and change your mind about it later.
LATAM award availability is decent and there are times when you can find multiple Business Class seats on one flight, and the overall LATAM experience in the premium cabin is quite nice – good food, a nice product, and South American hospitality. Alaska does not impose fuel surcharges on LATAM flights, so you only have to pay the mandatory taxes and fees – your LATAM award won’t cost a fortune.