Cathay Pacific First Class Tea

Alaska Mileage Plan is famous for providing great redemption rates that allow you to book some of the best premium cabin options in the world for a reasonable number of miles. Whether you earn miles by flying Alaska and its partners, through credit cards or by simply buying miles during sales, there are several ways to get your hands on these valuable miles.

While it’s not a member of a major airline alliance, Alaska Airlines has put together a collection of partners from across the globe that can help you get just about anywhere you want to go. With that in mind, we wanted to touch on some of the best options to use Alaska Mileage Plan miles.

To make booking these options easy, make sure you check out our complete guide to redeeming Alaska miles.

Cathay Pacific First With A Bonus Flight To South Africa

cathay pier hkg first lounge

Using Alaska miles to book a first class ticket on Cathay Pacific just might be the most discussed way to use the Mileage Plan program. While taking a trip to Hong Kong for the food alone makes booking Cathay first class worth it, Alaska Mileage Plan allows you to book two insane trips on one ticket.

With Alaska miles, you can book a one-way first class ticket for 70,000 miles to Asia or… you can simply stopover in Hong Kong for a few days (or more) then continue onto South Africa in business class for no additional miles. If that sounds amazing, believe me, it is.

While Cathay is known for having great inflight service, first class takes it to another level. Of course, the fancy champagne doesn’t hurt either. You’ll also be able to enjoy a great meal at American Airlines Flagship First Dining — a restaurant within a lounge — when flying out of the US. If you’re flying from South Africa to the US, you can check out one of Cathay’s first class lounges in Hong Kong (HKG).

Cathay Pacific Business Class New York To Vancouver

Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat B777

There’s something fun about flying from New York to Vancouver (or vice versa) on Cathay Pacific. With great lounge options, a lie-flat seat and great service, we included it as one of the best transcontinental business class options. What makes this a particularly nice redemption is that you only need 25,000 Alaska miles for a one-way business class ticket. Not bad for a 6-hour flight if you ask us!

Don’t forget to check out the lounge before your flight. When flying out of JFK, you’ll have access to the American Airlines Flagship Lounge — we’d recommend you visit the “secret” section of the lounge. If you’re flying out of Vancouver, Cathay has its own lounge with made-to-order food including dishes such as dan dan noodles – a personal favorite – and dumplings.

You can also use Cathay Pacific’s own loyalty program to book a business class ticket on this route for 25,000 Asia Miles.

Japan Airlines First Class To North Asia

Japan Airlines First Class
Image courtesy of Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines has built a reputation for having brilliant first class service. Of course, they’ve also served some of the most expensive champagne in the sky — they’ve since moved from Salon to Cristal but I haven’t heard any complaints. Oh, and if you like sushi, Japan Airlines has you covered in their first class lounge so you can get one more bite before leaving Japan.

To book, you need 75,000 Alaska miles for a one-way first class ticket. Alternatively, you could use 80,000 American miles if you find they’re easier miles for you to acquire.

Qantas First Class To Australia

Qantas First Class Seat

If you can find first class award space on Qantas, jump on that opportunity to book with Alaska Mileage Plan miles. While Qantas doesn’t release much award space, the experience is more than worth the effort. Seriously, when your seat is in bed mode, you’ll have one of the most comfortable beds in the sky.

On my flight from Dallas (DFW) to Sydney (SYD), I’d have to say the crew was one of the best I’ve seen. On a 17-hour flight, having an amazing crew certainly goes a long way. If you fly out of an airport with a Qantas first class lounges such as LAX or Sydney, the first class experience begins on the ground — take some time to enjoy a meal.

All this can be yours for 70,000 Alaska miles. Not a bad way to book a one-way ticket across the world if you ask us.

Qantas Business Class On A Dreamliner

Qantas 787 Dreamliner
Image courtesy of Qantas

Sticking with Qantas for a minute, business class on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner might be one of the best lie-flat options out there. As you would expect from a great business class product, every seat has direct aisle access so you don’t have any awkward moments crawling over a neighbor.

From the US, you can try it on a few routes including:

  • Los Angeles to Melbourne
  • Los Angeles to Brisbane
  • San Francisco to Melbourne

For those on the east coast, you won’t be able to fly non-stop but you can fly the Dreamliner from JFK to Brisbane with a connection at LAX. Regardless of which route you book, you’ll only need 55,000 Alaska miles which makes it a great deal to fly to Australia.

A quick side note for those flying from JFK. If you’d like to fly to Sydney or Melbourne, you can pick up a connection at LAX on the A380 in first class. This option requires the first class award price of 70,000 Alaska miles and is more than worth it.

Emirates Business Class On An A380 (With An Inflight Bar)

Emirates A380 Business Class Bar
Image courtesy of Emirates

Emirates first class may get all the attention might get all the attention but don’t sleep on business class on the Airbus A380. Not only will you get a lie-flat seat with direct aisle access but you’ll have access to probably the most famous bar in the sky.

At the rear of the cabin, you can hang out with your friends — or make a new one — over a glass of champagne or cocktails. You’ll also find plenty of snacks to munch on at the bar and couches where you can sit back and relax.

You can book a one-way business class ticket on Emirates with 82,500 Alaska miles.

Korean Air Business Class To North Asia

Korean Air Business Class Seat
Image courtesy of Korean Air

When Chase Ultimate Rewards and Korean Air SkyPass split, we lost a great way to book Korean Air flights. Fortunately, Alaska Mileage Plan still provides a great option for Korean Air business class if you want to visit places such as Seoul, Busan, Tokyo and more.

The one hitch with booking an award ticket on Korean with Alaska miles is that it must be round-trip. Technically, you could book a one-way award ticket but you’ll still pay the round-trip price.

Why use Alaska miles for this award instead of another Korean partner such as Delta? Well, Alaska only requires 105,000 miles round-trip while Delta asks for 170,000 miles for a round-trip ticket.

Fiji Airways Business Class To Fiji And Beyond

Fiji Airways Business Class
Image courtesy of Fiji Airways

Unlike some of the business and first class options we’ve discussed above, this one isn’t all about the flying experience. Instead, booking Fiji Airways business class is about a comfortable ride to amazing destinations.

With 55,000 Alaska miles, you can book a one-way business class ticket to Fiji. However, it’s a great chance to take advantage of a stopover. Rather than simply visit Fiji — though, no one will fault you for that, you can make Fiji your stopover before continuing to New Zealand or Australia. Now, that would make for one heck of an adventure!

LATAM Business Class To South America

LATAM New Business Class
Image courtesy of LATAM

Currently, LATAM operates Dreamliners from the US to South America that are outfitted with 2-2-2 business class cabins. While it’s not the most modern option, the seats are lie-flat so you can get some sleep if you desire. However, we’re really looking forward to the new business class cabins they’re introducing over the next couple of years.

The new business class cabins will have a 1-2-1 layout and be lie-flats. In fact, the design should be similar to what you’ll find on Qantas’ Dreamliners so you can expect this to be a very nice upgrade. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for these on the routes to the US.

At 45,000 Alaska miles for a one-way business class award ticket on LATAM, this is a great way to book a trip to South America. Perhaps you’ll even include a stopover in Santiago or Lima on your way to another fun destination!

Aer Lingus Business Class To Europe

aer lingus business class
Image courtesy of Aer Lingus

In June 2019, Alaska Airlines made award bookings available on its partner Aer Lingus. This opens up a great option for flying from the USA or Canada to Europe without surcharges. Even if you’re flying to London, you might want to skip flying non-stop on British Airways and take a quick connection in Dublin.

Why? Well, as an example, the total taxes/fees on a one-way Aer Lingus business class ticket to London will be about $35 out of the USA while a business class ticket on British Airways will include over $600 in taxes/fees thanks to some massive surcharges.

Add An Alaska Segment To Start Another Trip

Alaska Airlines Plane
Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines

If you’re booking an award back to the US on one of Alaska’s partner airlines but don’t have a need for a stopover at the time, here’s a trick to get your next trip started. Let’s take a look at an example of how this could work.

Let’s say you live in Los Angeles. You could book a one-way award ticket on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to LAX. That’s simple enough, but what if you plan to take a trip to New York a few months later. Rather than just book the non-stop Cathay flight, you could stopover in your home city of Los Angeles for a few months then take an Alaska Airlines flight to New York.

There are any number of different ways you could utilize this but one thing is clear and it’s that you should include a stopover when you return to the US. Even if you don’t know for sure whether you’ll be able to use an Alaska flight, why not include it on a date you think you can make work?

How To Earn More Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

Unlike some other airline loyalty programs, Alaska Airlines doesn’t have multiple partnerships with transferable points programs. In fact, you can’t transfer points from any of the bank programs — Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points — to your Alaska account. Not a single one. You can, however, transfer Marriott Bonvoy points.

Credit Card Options

While you can’t transfer points to Alaska, you can earn Alaska miles directly when you use one of two co-branded credit cards issued by Bank of America, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card and the Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card. Alternatively, you can use one of the Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards issued by both American Express and Chase (Learn More).

Buy Alaska Miles

Thanks to its competitive redemption rates, it can actually make sense to buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles when they run promotions — especially the 50% bonus promos. There are all kinds of caveats to buying miles to book award tickets, but the biggest is probably that you very rarely buy speculatively. In fact, we generally suggest that people buy when they find the award space they want to book so the turnaround time is very quick.

Final Thoughts

Alaska Airlines has done a great job of putting together partnerships with a wide variety of airlines. While it might not be part of a major airline alliance, these individual partnerships give it incredible reach across the globe. While earning miles with credit cards isn’t the easiest, supplementing by purchasing miles strategically can help you get the award tickets you want a fraction of the usual cash cost of the ticket.

The toughest part of using Alaska miles? Deciding what you want to book.

Spencer Howard

Spencer Howard is a credit card rewards and award travel expert. He’s living proof that points and miles can unlock many of the greatest travel experiences and uses his skills to tick off new bucket...

Join the Conversation


  1. Nice concepts. I just did SFO – HKG- JNB on Cathay business W/ Alaska miles.
    Very, very limited availability and my upgrade to business from premium economy Hkg to JNB was on the evening of the flight. Alaska was super helpful. I spent three weeks in Asia using low cost Asia Airlines for local flights. In South Africa used United and AA miles on local SA and BA flights including Victoria Falls. Return via LHR on BA to Montreal, where I am at now. Tomorrow to SFO via JFK on DL. Must be flexible and secure your tickets early. You cannot see Cathay Pacific availability on the Alaska website but the Alaska reservation agents or very helpful and patient.

    1. Hey Eric – That sounds like a fantastic trip! Makes me want to go back to South Africa. Definitely right about the HKG-JNB segment – it can be a tough one. Will have a piece on redeeming Alaska miles soon that will cover booking, finding award space, etc. Though, it sounds like you have the covered!

    2. Yeah, that does sound like a great trip. Unfortunately, Spencer talked me OUT of this in lieu of his 2-week birthday trip to Asia. Friends, am I right?

  2. This paragraph doesn’t make any sense:
    In fact, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points, Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Citi ThankYou Points to your Alaska account. You can, however, transfer Marriott Bonvoy points.

    Can you tell me how I can transfer Cap One or Chase points to my Alaska account? You probably made a type to “can” instead of “can’t”. Thanks.

  3. Does Alaska Miles for Korea require 105k roundtrip or one-way? Alaska’s award chart suggests it’s one way….

    1. I did an award search and it priced out at 105k roundtrip for AS miles on Korean Bus, my bad.

    2. Both one-way and round-trip on Korean Air are 105k Alaska miles in biz class. However, you can book Korean biz class on the outbound for 52.5k with a return on a different partner (or vice versa). The mileage rate for the return flight would be dictated by Alaska’s chart for that partner, of course.

  4. To book stopovers and complex itineraries, do we have to call Alaska Airlines to book or all can be done on Alaska Mileage Plan website/App?

    1. Hey Al – you can book a multi-city award online to include a stopover as long as both airlines can be booked on Alaska’s site. If you want to include Cathay or LATAM flights, you’ll need to call.

      1. Oh Thanks…So I have to call for Cathay and LATAM …
        Does Cathay and LATAM fly from Washington DC or New York only on the east coast?

        Can we do IAD – Dubai – Sydney-> continue onwards to NewZealand(somewhere) on Emirates or any combination?
        Thanks a lottt!!

        1. On the east coast, Cathay flies out of both BOS, EWR, IAD and JFK and LATAM flies out of BOS and JFK.

          You can fly Emirates IAD-DXB-SYD — just requires a lot of miles. 🙂

  5. Just thought I’d check AerLingus from the US to DUB and business class keeps on getting priced at 280k…. What am I doing wrong? How do I get 60k? Thanks!

    1. I noticed the same. Not sure why so many dates are priced like that. I did find some space out of IAD on the A321neo (think JetBlue Mint cabin) and space out of Toronto (YYZ). Hopefully, we’ll start seeing more dates with 60k out of the US.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *