Why Alaska Mileage Plan Is Our Favorite Program


Without a shadow of a doubt, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is our favorite frequent flyer program. While the program offers a host of benefits and features that are similar to others, it has several unique points that make it stand out amongst the competition. So read on to find out what makes Alaska Mileage Plan so good.

Image: Alaska Airlines

Distance based

Every major US airline now has a loyalty program that is revenue based. This means that, to earn elite status, not only will you have to fly a given number of miles to progress up the ladder, you will also have to spend a minimum amount of cash with them too.

Alaska’s Mileage Plan program remains a distance based loyalty scheme. And your progression through its elite tiers solely based on the distance you fly, regardless of how much your tickets cost.

Alaska airlines
Get rewarded for the distance you travel, not how much you spend on tickets. Photo: Alaska Airlines

This is super friendly to budget travelers, who might crisscross the country several times per year, but always opt for the lowest fares. With Alaska, if they cover enough distance, they will earn elite status and be treated like the loyal travelers that they are. Most other US carriers have such measly earning rates for the lowest fares that you can pretty much forget about earning elite status with them.

Partner Options

Even though Alaska Airlines is one of the few carriers in the US that is not a member of one of the main global alliances, the company has gone out of its way to cultivate a stellar network of global partners. The Mileage Plan program partnerships include some of the biggest names in the aviation business such as:

  • Emirates
  • Qantas
  • Korean Air
  • Finnair
  • Cathay Pacific

Traditionally earning for flying partner airlines is relatively poor. However, Alaska has stepped up to the plate once again with some incredible earning rates. For instance, if you fly Emirates first class, you will earn 100% base of the miles flown, and a further 200% class bonus. That is a total earning of 300% of miles flown, that will all count towards elite status.

Emirates Premium Economy
Fly Emirates with your Mileage Plan points. Photo: Emirates

Singapore Airlines has a fantastic business class product, especially on its long haul widebody jets. Flying business with Singapore will earn you a tidy total of 200% of miles flown (100% base plus 100% class of service bonus).

Singapore airlines business class
Use your Alaska miles to fly business class on partner airlines. Photo: Singapore Airlines

When it comes to redemptions, Alaska has some great sweet spots on partner awards. One way awards from the US to Asia With JAL will set you back 70,000 miles in first class, which is great value. Flights from the US to Australia with Qantas will set you back 55,000 miles one way in Business, or 70,000 miles one way in first class.

Miles are easy to earn

Even if you don’t fly with Alaska, a whole bunch,  you have plenty of options to earn Mileage Plan miles. We have counted 15 different awesome ways to earn miles. Aside from flying, other ways you can earn Alaska miles include:

  • Shopping through the Alaska shopping portal
  • Using the Alaska dining Program
  • Earn miles for your hotel stays
  • Earn miles when hiring cars
Shopping with Mileage Plan
Treat yourself and earn Mileage Plan miles too. Photo: Pxhere

The easiest way to earn Alaska miles is through everyday spending, so every time you use your Alaska co-branded credit card, you will add to your Mileage Plan balance.The airline has a well-developed network of credit cards including:

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card

Having both cards and splitting off your business expenses means that you can even pick up miles for your business expenses.

Transfer Partners

Unfortunately, Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is not a partner with any major credit card company. So you cannot transfer points from Chase, Amex or Citi to Alaska. However, the airline is a partner with Marriott Bonvoy.

Ritz-Carlton international property
Photo: Marriott

Marriott points transfer at a ratio of 3:1, and for every 60,000 points, you will receive a 5,000-mile bonus. So each 60,000 points would yield 25,000 Alaska Miles. When it comes to hotel points, this is a decent transfer ratio and one of the best you will get on the market today.

A further bonus of the partnership is that you have the option to redeem your Marriott points for a  Hotel + Air travel package. 255,000 Marriott points will give you a 7-night stay at any Marriott category 1-4 property plus 50,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles

Final Thoughts

This list is by no means exhaustive; the Alaska Mileage Plan program has many other strengths. While it is not as developed as the programs offered by legacy carriers, it does stack up very well against most. So if you are looking for a new program, or are just starting in with miles and points, it is worth your while to give the Alaska Mileage Plan some serious consideration.