Redeeming Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles: Domestic Awards, Stopovers, and Free One Ways

Between Alaska’s routing and its partnership with Delta and American, you can pretty much fly anywhere in the United States with a domestic award. Here are the award charts for domestic redemptions on either Alaska, American, or Delta.  

My personal opinion with domestic awards is that I would rather save my points for international redemptions.  If you are primarily interested in domestic awards there is a better points currency that you should be accruing, British Airways Avios.  British Airways has a distance based award chart which you can exploit for some terrific redemptions like 25,000 miles round trip from Portland to Hawaii.  British Airways is partners with Alaska and American so you have plenty of redemption options.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are best used for international redemptions.  However, there are a couple of situations where I think using Alaska miles are a better value than Avios and that is going to be the focus of this post.

Two Domestic Stopovers on a Round Trip

When redeeming Alaska miles for a domestic award you are allowed to book stopovers on Alaska operated flights. Alaska charges 25,000 for a domestic award in coach (excluding Hawaii).  The people who will get the most value out of this are going to be those flying from the east coast to the west coast.

For example, let’s say you are from Boston and want to visit San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.  With a domestic award you could book the following route: Boston to San Francisco with a stopover in Seattle.  Then return to Boston from San Francisco with a stopover in Portland.

At 25,000 miles that is a pretty good value.  Those of us on the West Coast can create a similar award but we will be confined to doing so on the West Coast or Alaska.  To book this type of award, search each segment individually and then put them together in the multi-city search. Alternatively, you can also book this award as two one ways.

Free One Ways

While those of us on the west coast cannot maximize two stopovers on a round trip, we can get free one way awards.  A free one way is when you take advantage of a stopover at the end of a round trip and add on a one way flight a few months out.  For example, let’s say I was going to visit Boston in June and I also knew I wanted to go to Alaska in November.  I could book the following for 25,000 miles:

Now, I know what some of you are probably thinking, can I add on a one way for Hawaii? The answer is yes, but with a catch.  Award tickets to Hawaii have a different award chart than the rest of the US.  Alaska charges 40,000 miles round trip and 20,000 miles one way.  You can book it but you will have to do so as two one ways and Alaska will charge you 20,000 miles for the Boston to Portland to Hawaii segment.

Instead of a free one way, it is a discounted one way.

Redeeming on Delta

You may have noticed above that Alaska will charge you the same amount of miles for a one way on Delta as it will for a round trip.  This is because Delta does not allow one way awards at half price.  There is, however, a way to work around this.

Alaska allows you to mix and match award partners on round trip flights.  Meaning, I can fly one airline departing PDX and another on my return to PDX.  I cannot mix partners on the same one way segment, although, I can book an open jaw.

For example, I could fly Delta to JFK and then Alaska back from Boston.  When I book this via Alaska’s multi-city search the delta flight will price out at half the cost of a one way flight.

This can be a helpful little trick when you are trying to fly to an airport Delta serves and Alaska does not.

If you have questions about Alaska’s routing rules or how to earn Alaska miles see my related posts.  As always feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have questions about a specific redemption or have questions in general.  The next post in this series will discuss awards to Asia.

Related Posts
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Award Routing Rules
Earning Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles

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11 thoughts on “Redeeming Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles: Domestic Awards, Stopovers, and Free One Ways

  1. I find that the routing rules on the one-way awards are very generous. I can book LAS-PDX–stop–PDX-DFW with no problem.

    Wondering how far I can push it!? 🙂

    • I think awards are generally pretty easy to book. I had one issue when it showed phantom availability on Air France but I was looking at exactly 331 days out.

  2. Hmmm I’m trying to book a flight from PDX to MEX with a stopover in MSY (New Orleans). There are flights from PDX->MSY, from MSY->MEX and from MEX->PDX but for some reason when I put it into the tool as a connecting flight, it errors out.

    Should this routing be possible? Technically it’s just a roundtrip with a stopover in MSY on the way out. Do I need to call for this booking? Or maybe I’m just using the page wrong?

    I’m trying to put this into the online tool, am I doing “connecting flight” right?
    Departing Flight: PDX->MSY
    Connecting Flight (optional): MSY->MEX
    Returning Flight: MEX->PDX

    • Most frequent flyer programs have a Maximum Permissible Miles (MPM) cap on awards. I have never seen it published for Alaska but I am sure they have an MPM for their awards. Otherwise you could book PDX-LAX with a layover in Boston. MPM is a certain percentage that exceeds the miles between your origin city and your destination. For example if you want to fly A – C and it is 1,000 miles from A-C if the MPM was 25% you could book an award that routed a total of 1,250 miles.

      PDX-MEX-PDX with a stopover in MSY probably exceeds the MPM for that award. Interestingly enough, and I have no explanation for this. I can get Alaska to show as a one way flight (I don’t know if you can book it) PDX-MSY-MEX with a two day stopover. However, anytime I exceed a two day stopover it errors out. Unfortunately, I have no explanation for this. I would not be surprised if I had gone through the steps to actually book it that it would eventually error out.

      I have some ideas on how to work around this but it would involve purchasing a ticket for at least one segment.

      • UPDATE: I called the representative and she told me two interesting things:

        1. They have something called “direct access” which they can use for Qantas awards, but they’re not supposed to use it for other partner airlines like Delta/American. They just have access to the same web portal that we have.

        2. You can only stopover (connecting flight) at an airport that their normal routing would go through, but not an arbitrary airport. For example: The flight from PDX to MEX has a stopover in DFW. The online routing tool will let me use DFW as a stopover for as many days as I want, but I can’t add MSY as a stopover since they don’t route through there.

        Do you know if the above two items are true? The agent seemed a bit flustered by what I was trying to do, and I wouldn’t be surprised if calling in and saying that another agent had been able to set it up in Direct Access could lure them into setting up the itinerary for you.

        As it stands I think I may just book the flight with a stopover in DFW and then use 9,000 British Avios to book a hop-flight to and from MSY. Total miles would be 35,000 AK Miles and 9,000 Avios. Not great, but I get to go to MSY and MEX. The system also let me build in a stopover on the way back in LAX (where they connect for MEX->PDX) for a few days. Three trips in one!

        • I’m sure both are true. This is the first I have heard of “direct access” but it sounds like they can manually book awards, which is promising. I’m sure the second one is true also because it sounds like a limitation similar to MPM. There needs to be some method to prevent crazy routings like flying to the east coast to get to Seattle. Personally, I would not waste Avios to shuttle you between DFW and MSY. I would imagine that you should be able to find a cheap enough ticket that it would be worth it for you to save the points. I applaud your creativity and I think this is a perfect example of why I love AS miles. There is so much you can do with them.

          • Just to follow up, I ended up booking the flight as PDX->DFW with 6 day stopover in DFW. Then DFW->MEX, MEX->LAX->PDX back, with 2 days in LAX.

            You’re right, it would have been a waste of Avios. I found a $70 SW flight DAL->MSY and a $54 Spirit (ugh) flight from MSY->DFW. SW and Spirit aren’t obviously my first choice, but for a 1:20 flight it’s probably fine.

            I did have to leave 6-7 hours for my DFW to DAL transit, but I still get in to MSY on the same day. On the way back I had to do an overnight in Dallas (Club Carlson points to the rescue!).

            All in all I ended up booking 7(!) total flight segments, with 6 days in New Orleans, 4 days in Mexico City and 2 days in LAX for a slim 35,000 points + ~$150 fees/hop flights.

            Not a bad little trip, I’m super excited about it.

            More details:
            I actually booked the SW flight with RapidRewards which I transferred from Chase UR, so that was a bare 3,500 Chase UR points for that hop flight, cheaper than the 4,500 Avios would have been and I got to go into MSY directly instead of Baton Rouge.

            I also topped up my Alasksa account with 5,000 pts from Starwood which posted in about 2 days. I wanted to put that out there on the net so people know, Starwood to Alaska took 2 days to post. Not too bad.

            All in all I feel like I used my 30,000 AK points, my 3,500 Chase UR point, 5k Starwood Points and 9,000 Carlson points to put together a trip I would never have dreamed of taking.

            Thanks for the tips!

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for tweeting to me to check this post re: PDX >> Toronto >> PDX >>Hawaii.

    Sadly I can’t get it to work, either as a RT with an added leg for Honolulu or as a multi city. Maybe Canada invalidates what works for US domestic itins? The one way search doesn’t appear to allow me to put in three cities.

    Might you have any suggestions? We are hoping to go to Toronto in mid Jan for 5 days, back home to PDX for a week, and then Hawaii in Feb.


    • You have to book it as two one way awards. The trick still works for Boston. Not sure if the issue you are having is that you are international, lack of direct flights to PDX, or too many stopovers. For the return leg with the free one way, first search YYZ to PDX. Once you find a day with a routing you like, write that day down. Next open a new window and search PDX-HNL in February. Then return to multi-city search and combine the two together. I did this and got it to work for Boston. I had trouble with Toronto. Once you find some dates you may try calling reservations and see if they can book it or tell you what the issue is. Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

      • Thanks for the speedy reply, Scott. Being that we are both PDXers, we should meet up at some point!

        You described what I did better than I did in my question to you and sounds like you also couldn’t get it to work. I am guessing it is either because of the international leg, or, as you suggested, no direct flight from Toronto to Portland.

        I did find RT tickets PDX > YYZ on Delta with one stop in SLC for just 19K. Most flights on all the airlines go through Chicago, which makes me nervous considering it is January, so SLC sounds better. It has a tight connection and fewer connecting options if we are late, but 19K is better than 25K or more, which was the cost for everything else. And one stop is much better than two.

        So I think we will just book the 19K Delta option and then use Avios for Hawaii. And hope for good weather everywhere and enough time for the tight connection.

        Thanks again!

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