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Yesterday, after Sharon’s post about 1 more day to transfer SPG points to Virgin America!, reader Chris commented in to ask:
Are Alaska Airline miles any good for someone on the east coast? We live in Florida and it can be difficult to find flights on some west coast airlines. I would love to see Thailand and Cambodia.
So even though the SPG transfer to Virgin America deal is over (hopefully you got in on it if you wanted to), I thought it was worth exploring Chris’s comment to see if Alaska miles are truly “worth it” for readers on the east coast
Alaska in Florida
Alaska Airlines actually already flies 3 nonstop flights to Florida from its hub in Seattle – Orlando (MCO), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), and Miami (MIA). I checked award availability for some random dates, and it seemed to be pretty good – here’s an example of award availability from Orlando to Seattle in May
12,500 miles would be the “saver” price. SEA-MCO was actually even better (though depending on your dates, getting the lowest price required taking a red eye flight)
[4 tips to help you sleep on a red eye flight in economy]
Availability to / from Fort Lauderdale or Miami was decent, depending on your dates. As always, being flexible with your dates, times and locations will help you find the best deal.
And don’t forget also that with the recent Alaska / Virgin America merger, the new Alaska will also fly to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale from its new San Francisco hub.
The real value of Alaska miles – partner awards!
I actually felt the same way as Chris back when I first started – why would I worry about getting Alaska miles when I live in the Alaska “dead zone”?
Then I found that the real benefit of Alaska miles are through their partners. Alaska Mileage Plan partners with several international airlines (Emirates, LAN, British Airways, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qantas among others) as well as American and Delta Airlines (for now)
We used Alaska miles to fly Emirates First Class last year
(READ MORE: Help! I’m “stuck” in Emirates First class on ONLY a 777!!!)
(READ MORE: Emirates A380 first class review Dubai to New York)
and we used Alaska miles to get lie flat seats to Peru (through their partnership with LAN). Living in Florida, you won’t even be burnt by the fact that you can not combine multiple different partners
Using Alaska miles to fly to SE Asia
But Chris wanted to go to Thailand or Cambodia, so let’s look at Alaska to Southeast Asia. Alaska has a different award chart for different partners, so to go to Asia, it will depend on which partner you fly. I’m also not sure where in Florida Chris is, so I chose Orlando. Here was my first date search
You can see that there are a couple of different options – note that the Korean Air booking is so high because Korean Air awards are required to be booked roundtrip (or rather, they’re the same price whether you book roundtrip or not). There are 3 different options depending on whether you want to book with Korean Air, Hainan Airlines or Japan Airlines
Remember too that booking an award with Alaska Airlines means that you get one free stopover, even on a one-way! That can be a huge benefit of using Alaska miles.
Readers what do you think? Are Alaska miles worth it, even if you don’t live on the west coast?
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Regarding the “dead zone” you mentioned, AS will be flying out of IND beginning in May or June. Just wanted to let you know since you live in Cincy.
Thanks! I had heard that before and that could open up some interesting options for us
Alaska also now flies nonstop from Seattle to Tampa (TPA)
Thanks – it’s an old(er) picture and you’re right that there are some additional flights (and as someone else mentioned, SEA-IND is starting soon so getting a little closer to CVG!)
AS points are worth it!
We are using them later this year to fly from
TPA-OGG via SEA.
What a silly premise. Every airline has areas that are well served and those that are not. Why would you not have miles in all domestic programs and then simply select each itinerary based on price, perks etc.?
As far as partner awards go, they seem to have some nice cross-alliance partnerships, almost like they were a transferable points program. My focus has become Star Alliance (Chase UR), but I am using Alaska as a secondary program to collect miles for future aspirational trips. I only wish they had a card or were a transfer partner of a transferable program where you could earn bonus miles/pts on non-airline purchases.
i wish they would show CX flights on the AS award chart. what’s the best way to check CX availability using AS miles?
I use British Airways to check Cathay availability
I have a great example why Alaska miles are awesome. My wife and I booked a last minute trip to the Maldives but couldn’t find any awards back home. I tried Jal miles for an emirates award and came back empty. Expert flyer showed no space on emirates and Emirates own web site only had at the flex level. Mysteriously Alaska was showing 2 first class seats from male to JFK. No idea how as no other carrier could book including Emirates themselves! Called Alaska and they ticketed it instantly. Problem was it cost 150,000 each but still better than nothing.