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Yesterday I posted an article explaining how to earn a “free” domestic round trip flight after purchasing a premium economy fare. That piece focused on American Airlines frequent fliers. Today, I’ll show you how the same trip can provide Alaska Air flyers with a similar reward, though a little less lucrative
Step One: The Premium Economy Flights
The previous article used Los Angeles to Amsterdam fares. Today, I’ll focus on a slightly cheaper trip with similar rewards: Los Angeles to Madrid. Unlike with AA, you must book with British Airways instead of the choice of BA or Iberia, as Alaska Air does not partner with Iberia for earning miles.
Earning Alaska Miles on British Airways is also a little tougher than earning miles for AA. Alaska only uses its British Airways partner chart for flights marketed and operated by BA. That limits your flight options. Still, it wasn’t too hard to find BA flights from L.A. to Spain. Main cabin economy runs $540 – $580 generally, so this fare averages ~$270 more than sitting in the back.
Again, that premium (pun intended) is for the larger seats, extra checked bag, priority boarding and baggage, better dining, etc. So you’re paying about $13/hr for a seat you can stretch out in, plus the bells and whistles.’
Step Two: Earning Alaska Miles
Once you fly this itinerary and credit these flights to Alaska’s frequent flier program, you should earn just over 11,000 miles. That’s because BA is slightly less generous with their fare class on this route than to Amsterdam. The shorter flights book into main cabin economy S code – that earns 50% of miles for Alaska. So you’ll earn 10,800 miles flying to London, but only 770 miles to/from Madrid.
Step Three: Using Alaska Miles for Round Trips or Stopovers
Alaska doesn’t have “web specials” like American, and thus the miles for this deal aren’t quite as lucrative. Alaska prices its rewards flights by distance, so shorter flights are generally cheaper. 11,000 miles from your premium economy trip can get you a round trip shorter than 700 miles. For instance: Seattle to San Francisco (+ $5.60 each way).
While it’s harder to get outsized rewards with these flights, you’re still saving nearly 200 bucks with this round trip. And that’s a return of 22% on the cost of your PE flight.
Alaska does allow stopovers on it’s awards. If two cities are within 700 miles of each other, it’s possible to spend a few days somewhere in between for just a few extra miles. (According to Richard Kerr over at The Points Guy, this type of stopover used to be free, e.g. 5,000 total miles instead of 7,500. It may still be possible to book a free stopover, but I could not make any routes price below 7.5K. Perhaps that requires calling?) That’s not a round trip but it’s still 2 separate flights/destinations, and under 11,000 miles.
Alaska frequent flyers can earn a round trip domestic economy flight by booking a premium economy flight to Europe. It’s not quite as lucrative as it is for American Airlines flyers, but never look a gift horse in the mouth. This opportunity will still be possible for as long as Alaska makes no changes to their frequent flyer program.