Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use Avios for tax-free flights on Alaska Airlines (good for Hawaii)

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In this series

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

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

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 13 airlines within the oneworld alliance.

As well as the oneworld members, British Airways has two additional ‘earn and burn’ partners as you can see here – Aer Lingus 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.

In Summer 2021, Alaska Airlines is joining the oneworld alliance and will become a full British Airways partner.  Until Summer 2021, it operates under the hybrid arrangement I explain here.

Alaska airlines avios

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 nine West Coast cities (Anchorage, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle) to four Hawaiian Islands (Big Island, Kauai, Maui and Oahu).

Whilst Alaska Airline will become a full member of the oneworld alliance in 2021, you can already earn and spend Alaska miles with British Airways and even gain Alaska Airlines status by crediting British Airways 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 Avios 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.  You can see the partner airline Avios redemption chart in this HFP article.

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 6,000 Avios each way whilst First is 24,000 Avios.)

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 $50

Alaska lets you switch your flight to another one for just $50 – 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!

There are other Avios options to Hawaii with American Airlines – this article looks at how to redeem Avios on American AirlinesAlaska 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 learn more about how to maximise your Avios redemptions?

You can see the full list of all 15 articles in the ‘Avios Redemption University’ series here.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (2)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Peter K says:

    No one wants to go to Hawaii it seems!

    • Jody says:

      We were supposed to be going there early May, but obviously cancelled it. I didn’t manage to get reward seats so ended up booking one way flights with Southwest Airlines (was to join a cruise). Fortunately for us, they changed the flight by an hour, so that meant we could cancel for a full refund, as otherwise it would have been a voucher, and wouldn’t have made use of it.

      Definitely want to get to Hawaii at some point.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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