In the next few series of posts I am going to discuss international awards, first starting with Asia. Alaska has a lot of partner airlines that operate flights to Asia. American, Cathay Pacific, Delta, and Korean Air, all operate direct flights to Asia. You can even fly Emirates to Asia but you have to route through Dubai. Here are the award charts for each airline:
One drawback to awards to Asia is that there is not a whole lot of variety with direct flights to Asia from the United States.
These are all the direct flights operated by Alaska’s partners combined into one map. As you can see China, Japan, and Korea are the only countries you can fly to directly. Any other asian destination will require you to route through Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific), Seoul (Korean), Tokyo (Delta), or Dubai (Emirates).
However, when you include the asian hubs, the entire continent opens up. Add in Alaska’s generous award routing rules there becomes a lot of possibilities.
As you can see there really isn’t anywhere in Asia that is off limits with your miles. Which airlines you want to fly will largely depend on your preferences and which countries you want to visit. If you just want to visit Tokyo for instance, you may be really happy with American Air’s off peak award. If you want to visit multiple countries then Cathay Pacific or Korean Air may be your best bet. For a complete list of destinations operated by each partner airline see the bottom of this post.
How to Search for an Award
Later in this series I will have a more detailed post on how to book awards, but for those of you who don’t want to wait I wanted to discuss a couple of points. Generally speaking Alaska’s online award search tool is pretty easy to use. However, there are some limitations.
First, Cathay Pacific does not show up online. Cathay Pacific is one of only two partner airlines (the other being LAN) that you cannot search award availability for with Alaska’s website. If you want to search for award space on Cathay Pacific you can search either via British Airways website or Qantas’ website. Once you find the award space you have to call Alaska’s reservation desk, 1-800-252-7522, to book the award.
Second, Alaska’s website will not let you search for awards between foreign cities. This becomes an issue when you want to build a stopover into an award. For instance, lets say you want to fly Delta to Tokyo, stopover and then continue on to Bangkok. Alaska’s website will not let you search the Tokyo to Bangkok section by itself. I find this irritating because once you piece together the itinerary, PDX-NRT (stop) NRT – BKK, Alaska will show the award online. So the capability is there, but it is a quirk that has not been fixed. To work around this you have to search the segment on different websites:
For Delta, use Delta’s website. When using the website look for saver level award availability. This is the only type of award that can be booked with Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
For Cathay Pacific, you can use either British Airways or Qantas. Keep in mind is that Alaska only lets you book an award 331 days out while these search tools will show award availability 350 days out.
For Emirates, you can use either Emirates website or Qantas.
For Korean Air, Delta is probably your best bet but you can also use Korean’s website.
Once you have pieced together each segment go back to Alaska’s website and use their multi-city search tool. Enter each segment and the corresponding dates and Alaska should show the award. If you have trouble booking or searching for an award, send me an email and I will try and help.
Favorite Asian Awards
1. Cathay Pacific Business Class for 50k one way or 100k round trip
Care to fly in a super comfortable lie flat bed, with airline food that is edible, free drinks, and be well rested when you arrive at your destination? How does this look?
Build in a stopover in Hong Kong and you will get two flights and two destinations for the price of one. Hong Kong and Bali for 50,000 miles in a first rate business class? Yes please.
2. AA offpeak (October through April) to Japan or Korea for 25k one way or 50k roundtrip
Flying AA coach sucks but it is hard to beat the value. Round trip to Tokyo for 50k is a pretty good deal.
3. Emirates one way in first class via Dubai for 100k
Granted this is one way and you still have to find a away home (hmm that off peak AA award suddenly sounds attractive) but have you flown in first class? Have you ever flown in a first class cabin with a shower?
How about with an open bar?
For 100k you will fly mostly around the world in one of the coolest first class cabins out there.
Direct flights to Asia
Los Angeles: Tokyo and Shanghai
Chicago: Tokyo, Shanghai, and Beijing
Dallas: Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong
Los Angeles: Tokyo
San Francisco: Tokyo
Seattle: Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai
Honolulu: Tokyo, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka
Detroit: Tokyo, Nagoya, Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai
New York City: Tokyo
Hong Kong: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, BC, Chicago, New York City, Newark, Toronto
Seoul: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, BC, Honolulu, Chicago, Dallas, New York City, Washington, DC
Direct Flights within Asia:
Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific): Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, Cebu, Manila, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, and Seoul.
Tokyo (Delta): Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Singapore
Dubai (Emirates): Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka, Shanghai, Taipei, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Phuket, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta.
Seoul (Korean Air): Too many for me to list. Click here and scroll to bottom to see list of destinations.by