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So I was talking this afternoon with Joe from As the Joe Flies about United’s routing rules – it stemmed from a post he had written about adding a free one-way on United international round-trips.  I am in the middle of trying to plan a fairly complicated itinerary to Europe this summer and so we chatted a bit about what you can and can not do.

I was looking to add in my “free one way” to Alaska (if it’s free, might as well go all out, right?!?), but my test routings were not working, and it’s hard to know what’s an illegal routing, and what is just the site being its normal, buggy self.

Joe then mentioned that it seemed that United was charging 17,500 miles one-way in economy for routes between Cincinnati and Alaska.  That was strange because I was under the impression that flights within the Mainland US, Alaska and Canada were only 12,500 miles one-way.

How many United miles are flights from the US to Alaska?

Well, first I looked at United’s interactive chart


Okay – looks like 12,500 miles one-way.  Let’s check out their official award chart (pdf)



But why does a simple non-stop one way between San Francisco and Anchorage cost 17,500 miles?!? united-alaska-sfo-anc


Hmm time to look at the fine-print…

united-alaska-fine-printMajor bummer!  Why is it included in the same zone if it’s not the same miles amount?!?!

Other airlines and Alaska

Alaska is kind of a mixed bag – some airlines do count it differently than the rest of the US mainland (Hawaii is separate in almost every award chart).  Here’s a sampling of some prices on other airlines (one-way price in Economy)

  • American Airlines – 12,500 miles
  • US Airways – 12,500 miles
  • Delta – 12,500 miles
  • Air Canada – 12,500 miles
  • Lufthansa – 15,000 miles (though I believe they do offer a discount for US travelers originating in the US)
  • United – 17,500 miles
  • Alaska Airlines – 12,500 miles

So I guess it’s not as much of a mixed bag as I thought!  Seems like just about every other airline includes Alaska along with the rest of the mainland US

Anyway – you may already know this, but if not, it looks like if you’re going to Alaska, you want to stay away from flying on United.

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