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.
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 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 learn more about how to maximise your Avios redemptions?
(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.)