Seattle’s hometown airline, Alaska Airlines, is in a unique position. The airline is not a member of any major airline alliance but has airline partners from major alliances. Furthermore, there are increasing rumours of Alaska Airlines joining the oneworld alliance as the airline has the most airline partners from that alliance.
The one major downside of redeeming Alaska Airlines miles is that the frequent flyer program is very North America centric. This means that most flight awards must start or end in North America – there are exceptions, however, but there aren’t many. For example, you can’t redeem Alaska miles for travel on British Airways just for intra-Europe travel, it must be part of a North America award… but you can redeem AS miles on other partner airlines for intra-Europe travel only.
Alaska’s European Airline Partners
Alaska Airlines currently partners with a number of airlines, some of which are located in Europe. This means you can redeem your miles for travel on these airlines to/from North America to/from Europe. You can also redeem your miles for travel outside of the North America region on select partners.
Alaska’s European airline partners currently include:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
As you can see, there is a major focus on oneworld airlines rather than other airlines from other alliances. Alaska used to partner with Air France-KLM, but due to Alaska and Delta being enemies, DL probably pressured AF/KL to discontinue their partnership with the Seattle-based airline.
Redeeming Alaska Miles for Intra-Europe Travel
You can redeem miles for travel within Europe only on Aer Lingus and Finnair. You cannot redeem miles for intra-Europe travel on British Airways, Condor, or Icelandair if your award does not start or end in North America.
For example, you can redeem miles for a flight from London to Dublin on Aer Lingus without any other flights. However, you cannot redeem miles for a flight from Dublin to London on British Airways unless you then include a connecting flight on British Airways from London to North America.
You can also redeem miles for intra-Europe travel on Finnair without having to add on a North American flight. So you can easily redeem for something like London – Helsinki – Paris, without issue.
Alaska Airlines is one of the few airlines that allow stopovers on one-way mileage tickets. In the case of each AS partner airline, you can usually only stopover in the partner airline’s hub city (with a few exceptions). This means that you have to have your stopover in Dublin, when redeeming on Aer Lingus and in Helsinki when redeeming on Finnair.
You don’t have to have a stopover. You can simply connect in either Dublin or Helsinki, but the stopover is free. You do not pay any additional miles. For example, you can fly from Paris to Dublin to London for just 8k Alaska miles one-way in Economy. You can stop in Dublin for however long you want and you will still pay the same price.
The same goes for Finnair. You can stopover in Helsinki and intra-Europe awards will cost you just 12.5k miles one-way in Economy, even if you decide to spend a few days in Helsinki.
Alaska Redemption Rates for intra-Europe Travel
Redeeming Alaska miles for intra-Europe travel on Finnair is simple. Either there is an award seat or there isn’t. The redemption rates on Finnair for intra-Europe travel is as follows:
- Economy = 12,500 miles one-way
- Business = 20,000 miles one-way
Redeeming on Aer Lingus is a bit different. First of all, there is no intra-Europe Business Class on Aer Lingus so you can only redeem for Economy Class. Award flights on Aer Lingus are priced as follows:
- Economy = 8,000 – 30,000 miles one-way
Huh? You may be confused. Don’t worry, lots of people were! If Aer Lingus releases a traditional award seat, you will pay just 8k miles for a one-way award (with a stopover in Dublin if you wish).
If there are no traditional award seats available, then you will pay more than 8k miles. The price depends on what fare classes are available and the cost of the ticket in miles is likely revenue-based. If the ticket is more expensive in cash, the ticket will likely cost more miles. In this case, Alaska is basically paying Aer Lingus for a normal cash ticket and charging you more miles for it.
Tips for Redeeming Alaska Miles
Alaska only allows you to have one partner airline on an award ticket. Therefore if you want to redeem your miles for both Finnair and Aer Lingus flights, you will have to book this as two separate one-way awards. For those frequently visiting or living in Dublin or Helsinki, you can easily use your free stopover to start another trip in the future.
For example, say you live in Helsinki. You are just returning from a trip to Paris and will fly to London in a month. You can easily book this on one ticket with the stopover in Helsinki. The best part is that you will only pay 12,500 miles for one-way in Economy. Essentially the second flight is free! All you have to pay are the additional taxes and fees (if any).
Alaska’s generous stopover policy allows you to be very creative with how you structure your trips depending on where you live. The same stopover policy applies on Alaska flights. Since I live in Seattle, I almost always stopover in Seattle and continue elsewhere in a few months when I need to go. This works out beautifully since my second flight in the itinerary doesn’t cost any additional miles.
I wish Alaska would allow you to redeem their miles for ALL flights operated by their partner airlines. The fact that you are sometimes limited in terms of what you can redeem on isn’t ideal. For example, you can’t redeem miles for travel from London to Hong Kong on British Airways… but you can on Cathay Pacific. Yes, on the same route.
Alaska miles would become more powerful if they allowed redemptions on every single route which a partner airline operates. Furthermore, some lesser-known destinations cannot be booked using miles as the Alaska website doesn’t recognise the airport code – even if this is allowed by the current rules.
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