That’s because it has some of the lowest redemption rates of any frequent flyer program in the world and charges low fees.
Mileage Plan partners with four of the top seven airlines flying into Australia. They include Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Together, these four airlines cover over 37% of the international flights servicing Australia.
So why should you consider switching your points earn from Qantas Frequent Flyer, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to Mileage Plan? Well, you could be getting a lot more bang for your buck.
Let’s have a look at how many miles you can earn on some sample flights, and what you can do with them.
Comparing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to Qantas Frequent Flyer
Say you purchase a return ticket from the Melbourne to New York via Los Angeles flying Qantas. Let’s assume that you buy a discount Economy Class ticket in fare class Q.
You’ll earn 12,400 Qantas Points for that return flight, but with Mileage Plan you’d get 20,770 Alaska miles.
With 12,000 Qantas Points, you could book a one-way Qantas Economy Class flight from Melbourne to anywhere in the circle below.
However, with 20,000 of the Alaska miles you’ve earned, you can fly Qantas anywhere within Australia—in Business Class. For example, you could fly from Melbourne to Broome via Perth, which tends to be an expensive fare using cash.
(Note that Jetstar flights cannot be credited to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.)
For our second example, let’s look at flying Emirates from Brisbane to Singapore, one of its fifth freedom flights.
If you buy a full-fare return Economy Class ticket in fare class Y, you’ll earn 8,000 Qantas Points—or 7,632 Alaska miles. You’d think that the Qantas Points would be more valuable, but remember that not all points are created equal.
Now let’s look at redeeming those points for travel on Alaska Airlines itself within the US. You can do that with both Qantas Points and Alaska miles. However, you wouldn’t even have enough Qantas Points to book an award ticket (10,000 points minimum).
Conversely, 7,500 Alaska miles get you a one-way Economy Class ticket on Alaska Airlines from San Francisco to places like Las Vegas, Seattle and Denver.
Comparing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
A lot of travellers in Australia fly on Singapore Airlines. That’s because they fly to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra (and Cairns and Darwin if you count flights on their regional airline SilkAir).
Let’s say you purchase an Economy Class ticket in fare class M from Perth to Paris return. You’ll earn exactly the same number of KrisFlyer miles as Alaska miles—13,304. So, what can you do with them?
Well, you’d be almost 2,000 KrisFlyer miles short of being able to redeem a one-way Virgin Australia Economy Class ticket from Perth to anywhere in Western Australia.
Conversely, you would have enough miles (12,500) to fly Qantas Economy Class anywhere in Australia.
Comparing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
For our final example, let’s assume that your employer has bought you a flight to Toronto for a conference. You have a return Business Class ticket in fare class D flying Cathay Pacific departing from Adelaide.
Your first thought may be to credit that flight to Cathay’s own program, Asia Miles. You would earn 33,260 Asia Miles for this trip. (You could also choose to credit to Qantas Frequent Flyer, earning you 29,600 Qantas Points.)
With Alaska, you’d earn a whopping 54,297 Mileage Plan miles. So what can that get you?
Well, with 30,000 Asia Miles, you could redeem a one-way Cathay Pacific Premium Economy flight from Adelaide to Hong Kong.
Or, if you earned just 703 Alaska miles extra through another flight or buying them, you’d have 55,000 miles in total. That would get you a one-way Qantas Business Class flight from Adelaide to the US.
Plus, you could stop over in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane along the way for no extra cost. That’s because Alaska allows a free stopover on international (except intra-Asia) award tickets.
How to decide whether to credit your flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or another program
- Consider where your existing points balances lie, e.g. if you’re just short of an award using Qantas Points, then you should probably credit to Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Make sure you know which fare class you are booked in (it’s more complicated than just ‘Economy Class’)
- Go to wheretocredit.com to compare earn rates between Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and other frequent flyer programs for your specific flight
Other ways to earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in Australia
If you need to supplement your Mileage Plan balance, you can purchase miles during promotions (40% is the average bonus; 50% is a great deal).
If you have an American Express card, then you can transfer your points to Marriott Bonvoy and then to Mileage Plan. However, using this method means your points lose quite a lot of value due to the two-step transfer process.
My latest Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan redemption
I am travelling back from the US to Australia for Christmas later this year. I could have paid 144,000 Qantas Points for my one-way Qantas First Class flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne (jumping to 162,800 from 18 September 2019).
However, I only had to fork out 70,000 Alaska miles for the same flight. Plus, I will be stopping over in Melbourne for five days and then continuing up to Sydney in Qantas Business Class for no extra cost (using the free stopover)!
One common gripe amongst points-collectors is that their points are scattered all over the place. That makes it hard to earn enough points in one program to redeem for an award flight.
Choosing to credit your Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights (amongst others) to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan can avoid this problem. Plus, you’ll take advantage of their lower redemption rates and taxes.
However, do be aware that there are no Australian credit cards that earn Alaska miles. That means that if you need to top up your account for a redemption, that will need to be done by buying miles or a poor-value transfer from American Express via Marriott Bonvoy.
What do you think of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program? Which airline’s flights do you credit to them?