Free stopovers on one-way awards w/ Alaska [Sweet-spot spotlight]

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Sweet-spot spotlight is a Frequent Miler series showcasing some of the best values your points and miles can buy. Each sweet-spot post will highlight one great use of miles or points and give you a quick overview on what makes that use notable as well as the key information you need to know in order to find and book these awards.

Today’s sweet spot spotlight is on Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan since they offer a free stopover on one-way award tickets, which can be a great deal when you want to reach two destinations.

Alaska Airlines Companion Fare

Sweet spot spotlight:

  • The short story: Alaska Airlines only allows a free stopover on one-way awards (even domestic ones).
  • Miles required: Varies, but you’re charged based on the price from point of origin to the final destination. See Alaska Airlines mileage charts here.
  • How to find awards: Search alaskaair.com (or on partner sites for some partners)
  • How to book awards: Book online at alaskaair.com or call Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan at 1-800-252-7522.

Quick Notes

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is an excellent loyalty program that offers great value in terms of premium cabin international awards with top-notch partners. But you can also get fantastic value out of Alaska miles for domestic travel since they do not charge a close-in booking fee and they allow a free stopover on one-way awards.

Today’s sweet spot spotlight focuses on strength #2. A free stopover on a one-way award means that you can enjoy two destinations for the price of one.

For example, Alaska ordinarily charges 12,500 miles for a one-way domestic award ticket within the United states. For example, you could fly from Newark to San Diego in economy class for 12,500 miles.

Or you could fly from Newark (or JFK) to Seattle for 12,500 miles.

However, with a free stopover, you could alternatively fly from Newark to both San Diego and Seattle for the same 12,500 miles + $11.20.

Note that the stopover in San Diego can be for as long as you want — whether you plan to stay in San Diego for a few days or a few months, you can continue your journey from there to another domestic destination for 12,500 miles. That’s a great deal that gives you the chance to see two destinations for the price of one, which can be particularly cool given Alaska’s wide reach on the west coast. It could also be a good deal for those who live in an Alaska hub and can extend their trip home beyond their home airport with a stopover. Note that there are some routing rules and limitations, but it is worthwhile to play with the online booking tool to see what works since it can be pretty surprising.

The same can be said for trips to other parts of the world. For instance, let’s say that you wanted to fly from San Diego to Minneapolis in business class. Ordinarily, that would start at 25,000 miles one-way.

Flights on partner carriers get a little tricky since Alaska publishes separate award charts for each partner (see those award charts here). For instance, you can fly from North America to Europe on Icelandair for 50K miles one-way in business class. Alaska will allow you to mix flights on Alaska Airlines flights with flights on one partner airline on a single itinerary.

Let’s say that you wanted to fly from San Diego to Minneapolis (shown above for 25K) and then continue on to Iceland. You could do that for 50K miles total.

For just 25K miles more than the flight to Minneapolis (plus taxes), that’s not a bad deal. Icelandair’s business class isn’t known to be anything special, but the same concept would also apply with other partners and to other parts of the world. Some partners can be booked online with ease and others may require a phone call, but the possibilities are surprisingly flexible.

The examples in this post only demonstrate some basic examples. See the advanced booking tool here and click “multi-city” if you’re looking to book a trip with stopovers. Trial and error should give you a better idea as to what you can and can not do.

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