Alaska Airline is not part of any airline alliance, but it might as well be because it has 17 partner airlines that you can use Alaska miles can book flights on. The only difference is you cant mix and match different airlines like Aeroplan and you have to stick with a single one on your route.
Alaska miles has great redemption rates – usually requiring less miles than Aeroplan for the same destinations. Refer to the award chart to see exactly how many miles you need.
For example, flying Cathay from Toronto to HK in business class only needs 50k Alaska miles one way, while with Aeroplan you would need 75k. Similarly, Flying JAL for the same route requires 60k, which is still less than Aeroplan.
Alaska Miles Canada to Asia Award chart
Cathay Pacific is a popular option due to it’s low points requirement and it has a world class business and first class experience. One of the easiest ways to redeem Alaska Miles is to book a one way to Asia then use Aeroplan to get back home.
You can’t book Cathay Pacific flights or take advantage of it’s stopover policy directly on the Alaska airlines website, so I thought I’d write a little guide on how to score these flights.
Cathay Pacific is part of the One World alliance, so we can use their partner airlines search engines to see what award seats are available. You can use either British Airways (slower and un-intuitive website but you can see exactly how many award seats remain) or Qantas (faster search but cant see exactly availability). You have to spend 5 minutes to create an account in either case (free of charge).
Let’s use the British airways as an example, since Qantas website is more straight forward. Once you login with your account, go to My executive club.
On the left side you will see “Book with Avios or money”. Change payment to pay with avios and select One way.
Now it’s a lot like booking a Aeroplan mRTW trip (explained in the previous sections). We’ll plan our route then we search segment by segment. To maximize the value of our miles, we should take include a stopover – which requires both flights in and out of the stopover city to be Cathay Pacific metal (no code shares).
Most likely this stopover will be Hong Kong.
Map showing where Cathay Pacific flies to from Hong Kong
So you can do Toronto->Hong Kong->Bali or Toronto->Hong Kong ->Singapore. Or; if you are flying first class Canada->Hong Kong, you can tack on a free business class to South Africa for free (since it also requires 70k miles) – another 13 hours in the air!
In addition, Cathay has a “fifth freedom” flight (essentially means Cathay Pacific has the rights to sell tickets for this route) between Vancouver and New York, so we can even do New York->Vancouver->Hong Kong.
As an example, I will do Toronto->Hong Kong->Bangkok. Back on the British airways website, select From YYZ To HKG and business class. Click Search and if it asks you for stopovers, click continue without stopovers.
I just want to note here that it seems Oneworld has less award availability than the star alliance flights that you are used to with Aeroplan.
So occasionally you will see no outbound flights and only “connection flights” with British airways. You aren’t doing anything wrong, just try different dates and keep going.
Get used to seeing screens like this a lot.
Eventually you will find something that works. I find that searching close to a year ahead when availability first opens usually yields decent results.
As with Aeroplan, make a note of the flight number, date and time.
Now we can search for our second leg from Hong Kong to Bangkok, taking note of how long you want to stay in Hong Kong. Short hauls usually yields much more award availability, so it shouldn’t be hard to find this leg.
We even have different time slots to choose from in my example.
Now it’s just a simple matter of calling Alaska air and telling the agent you wish to use your miles to redeem for a cathay pacific flight.
And unlike Aeroplan, there is no $30 booking fee over the phone!