Avios Redemption University – Lesson 13 – How to use Avios for tax-free flights on Alaska Airlines (good for Hawaii)

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The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from them. Click here to see the other articles.

This article explains how and why you may want to redeem Avios on Alaska Airlines.

Most readers of Head for Points will know that you can redeem Avios points sitting in a British Airways Executive Club account for any of the airlines and their subsidiaries within the oneworld alliance.

As well as the oneworld members, British Airways has three additional partners as you can see here – Aer Lingus, Meridiana (an Italian airline which is not hugely useful for redemptions due to high taxes) and Alaska Airlines.

Redeeming Avios points on Aer Lingus is a fantastic deal because of the lack of fuel surcharges as I explained here. This article looks at their other partner, Alaska Airlines.


Despite its name, Alaska Airlines is based in Seattle. Whilst it flies more passengers to Alaska than any other US airline, it also serves over 100 other destinations in the US, Canada and Mexico.

The airline expanded substantially in 2016 when it acquired Virgin America, the US regional airline which operated primarily on the West Coast.  All of those flights have been rebranded, now carry Alaska Airlines flight numbers and can be booked with Avios.

Alaska Airlines is particularly good for getting to Hawaii with more than 175 flights a week from ten West Coast cities (Anchorage, Bellingham, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle) to four Hawaiian Islands (Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu).

Whilst not a part of any major airline alliance, it has partnerships with many airlines including British Airways. You can earn and spend Alaska miles with British Airways and even gain Alaska status by crediting BA flights to their programme. That article explains why this might be a smarter idea than you think.

Here are the key things to know about redeeming Avios on Alaska:

You cannot redeem for Alaska flights online

The only way to book is by calling British Airways Executive Club.

Alaska redemptions are priced the same way as any other Avios redemption

The cost will be based on the distance you are travelling. If you want to work out the cost before you call, you can use the ba.com Avios redemption calculator tool.

There is one ‘tweak’ to remember. On two-class planes, Alaska calls their cabins First Class and Economy Class. Because of this, a redemption ‘up front’ costs FOUR TIMES the standard number of Avios rather than triple because British Airways applies the First Class redemption rate.

(A similar situation applies to Qatar Airways across the Middle East, where planes are classified as Economy and First. Economy is 4,500 Avios each way whilst First is 18,000 Avios.)

Alaska Airlines logo

You can look up availability on the Alaska Airlines website

Their home page is here. You do NOT need to log in or register to search availability on miles.

Alaska offers redemption availability at varying levels of pricing depending on how busy a flight will be. You can only redeem when Alaska is showing tickets at the lowest level of pricing. The Alaska award charts can be accessed here but essentially you are looking for Alaska to show you one-way Economy flights at the lowest price level (5,000 miles for a ‘Hop’ flight through to 12,500 miles for a ‘Leap’).

Remember that you will NOT pay these prices when you book using Avios. These are the prices using Alaska miles. The price you pay will be based on the Avios redemption chart.

To double-check that a flight is available, you can do a dummy miles booking on the American Airlines website. Again, no registration is required. If the Alaska flight shows as available for booking with American miles then it will also be available for booking with Avios. Get on the phone to BA!

You won’t have any taxes to pay

The only fees payable will be the US security charges which are nominal.

British Airways may try to charge you a telephone booking fee. This can often be waived if you can convince them that you should not pay it because the functionality is not on the BA website. (Technically you should pay it because the fee is only waived when something can be done online but the website is having a bad day.)

On the day, you can change your flight for just $25

Alaska lets you switch your flight to another one for just $25 – even if no award space is available. You must keep the same routing and travel on the same day.  This can only be done within six hours of your original departure time – it is handy if you wake up in Hawaii on your last morning and decide you can’t bear to leave for a few more hours!

Whilst there are other Avios options to Hawaii with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines offers you a valuable additional option and one which, because it is a relatively small airline, can offer redemption space when other options are not available.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. MAY L LIM says:

    If you fly on Alaska, can you credit the flight to BAEC?

  2. Do Alaskan have proper seats in J?

  3. The BA pricing tool is useless. It always throws up an error saying it is unable to provide pricing at this moment

    • Scottydoggiom says:

      Yep . i Just tried to find out Avios for Seattle to Ancourage but i got a error message …….

  4. I thought I was being clever using a 241 to Seattle in CW and then an Avios economy redemption to Hawaii on Alaska. However, using an Avios valuation of 1p it would have worked out far cheaper to book an ex-EU with cash. Always worth checking!

    I’ve had good value using Avios redemptions on Alaska from Seattle to Canada/Alaska though.

    • What did you book in the end if you don’t mind me asking? I’ve just booked to LAS on club, then LAX to HON using Avios. Back to SFO then to LHR in premium. There’s 3 of us going but I’ve used a 2-4-1 voucher plus a Lloyd’s upgrade voucher. I thought it seemed a good deal at around 148000 Avios plus taxes

      • For two of us: LHR – SEA with the 241 in CW and then SEA – OGG / KOA – SEA in economy. Total 200,000 Avios plus £1100 ish. That’s ~£1550 each using the 1p valuation, but I could have booked ex-EU for around £1200, and on top of that we’d have earned 30k+ Avios back – and flown in First on the Hawaii sectors.

    • Can I ask the cost of your Alaska flight from Seattle to Canada? I recently made an American Airlines redemption, using some spare AA miles, for a one-way Canada to to Portland, which is coded as an Alaska flight (but actually operated by Horizon Air). The cost was 15k AA miles plus £33, but I wondered if I could have got a better deal booking with BA using Avios (if this is even possible given it’s not Alaska themselves who operate the flight.)

      • It was a short flight Seattle – Vancouver return. At the time it was 9000 Avios return plus about £30 but the minimum price has now increased to 15000 Avios return in North America I think.

        Don’t know where you flew from but if Vancouver – Portland it would have been 7500 Avios one way on Alaska, I believe.

  5. Do you get any BA status benefits when flying Alaska? I have an avios redemption from San Jose to Big Island and already know that I will need to pay to check in a bag

  6. If you register with Alaskan you will get constant offers of cash seats at low prices.
    On my one attempt to book availability was very low; it appeared to only be on their own metal rather than the sub-contracted small airline. I did book using SPGflights which gives all availability at a price. The flight was cancelled and we were re-booked onto a later flight. When we arrived for that 1530 flight we were told that that one had been cancelled too and the only seats that they could offer were at 2300 and we could not check in our luggage until 2000 so could not get into Centurion lounge to wait. After some discussion they put us on Air Canada and United at the next desk booked us in without charging for luggage which saved $75.
    To be fair, Alaskan did send us vouchers for $300 but since we shall not be making any relevant flights they will be wasted.
    We also got longer in the Centurion lounge which was excellent.
    No doubt others have had exemplary service.

  7. You can also transfer SPG points to Alaskan at 1:1.
    This will give you redemption availability on most if not all flights including ‘First Class’ on larger aircraft.
    It depends on how you value SPG points; I value them at three Marriott.

  8. I can thoroughly recommend Alaska as a destination to visit, particularly if you are the outdoor type, which is a given over their.. Try Nome in March to watch the finale of the famous 1000+ mile dog sled race, but be prepared for wind chill of maybe -80, on a bad day ! (And the roads are closed for the Winter.) I’ve walked and climbed in Denali National Park been up to Prudoe Bay to name but a few places and all thanks in no part to Alaska Airlines. A fabulous place, and obviously more popular with the Canadians and Americans during the Summer than Winter, and you might want to keep away from the cruise ship stops lkke Valdez as the town’s can be completely overrun.

  9. Have just booked a first class return to Seattle using comp voucher plus £1200 for taxes over the Xmas and new year period, plan to go hawaii from there, good deal ?

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