Alaska one-way partner awards are here!

As I reported a few weeks ago, Alaska irlines phone agents have been telling people that they're preparing to offer one-way award redemptions for half the cost of round-trip redemptions (instead of paying the round-trip cost for one-way redemptions, as you do using Delta Skymiles).

Well, I'm excited to announce that this change is now being rolled out for two of Alaska's domestic airline partners, American and Delta.  Tickets on both partners can be searched and booked online.  As of now one-way Delta awards are not yet pricing out at half the cost of round-trip awards, and it's ot clear whether this will be changed in the future.  However, they can now be combined with legs on Alaska or American to create much more flexible round-trip award redemptions than in the past, since previously it was impossible to combine partners on a single award.  This meant that if any of your legs was on Delta, Delta was the only partner you could use.  This was a serious drawback because of Delta's extremely limited award availability.  Now that airline partners can be combined on a single award, however, you can take advantage of what Delta award availability does exist in order to book trips combining flights on Alaska, American, and Delta.

Leveraging the Alaska Award Chart

Check out the Alaska award chart to see how many miles are required for various award redemptions.  While it's broadly similar to the award charts of other traditional airline loyalty programs, there are several nuances in the Alaska award chart which offer either better or worse value than redeeming partner miles on their own flights.  The best example of this is Business class flights from North America to Europe on Delta, which only cost 90,000 Alaska miles.  The same flights on the same Delta aircraft cost 100,000 Skymiles (although taxes and fees can be slightly ($20-$30) higher on Alaska).

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

You can earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles by crediting paid flights flown on heir partner airlines to Alaska, as discussed in Chapter 4 of the book.  This is also a great way to earn elite status, if you don't have enough paid flights on either Delta or American to earn elite status in either of those programs.

There are also two credit cards which allow you to earn Mileage Plan miles:

  • Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature.  Currently a standard offer of 25,000 Alaska miles upon account approval (no minimum spending requirement).  $75 annual fee, not waived the first year.  The card also offers an annual $99 coach class companion ticket valid only on flights operated by Alaska Airlines.  Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on the card, and 3 miles per dollar spent on Alaska Airlines tickets.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Personal and Business cards.  Both cards offer 25,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months of card membership, and have a $65 annual fee, waived the first year of card membership.  As I discussed last month, You can transfer 20,000 Starpoints into Alaska miles and receive a bonus of 5,000 Starpoints, meaning you can earn 1.25 Alaska miles per dollar spent on this card, and making this signup bonus worth 30,000 Alaska miles, better than Alaska's own co-branded credit card!  Since the annual fee is waived the first year and the signup bonus is higher, this is a strictly better offer than the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature, although there's no reason you can't apply for both cards as part of the same churn.