Alaska Airlines Brings Back Icelandair Partnership (One of the Best of All Time)

Alaska Airlines and Icelandair have renewed their partnership.

The two airlines partnered up until June 2013. Speculation at the time was that the partnership crumbled either because:

The Icelandair program isn’t very good, it isn’t even a good deal for flying to Iceland. In fact the only good deal I’ve seen is using Icelandair’s points for inflight duty free shopping.

It’s usually best to buy tickets to Iceland rather than using miles. (And not even just when there’s a mistake fare.) Delta’s flight is almost always too many miles. Other frequent flyer programs mean a lot of extra flying via Europe. And the flights themselves can price reasonably.

Here’s what we know the partnership will consist of:

  • Codesharing starting November 1
  • Reciprocal points-earning starting October 1 (earn Alaska miles – including elite qualifying miles — on Icelandair flights, and less useful earn Icelandair points on Alaska flights)
  • Reciprocal club lounge access for elites effective October 1, no club membership required.

    MVP Gold and Gold 75K members will receive complimentary access to Icelandair’s Saga Lounge at Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik and Icelandair Saga Gold and Silver members will enjoy complimentary access to Alaska Board Room lounges in Seattle, Portland, Anchorage and Los Angeles.

  • Alaska is running a double miles promotion for travel on Icelandair through December 15.
  • Reciprocal redemption “later this year”

Alaska of course has one of the best frequent flyer programs at the moment. They offer one way awards that allow a free stopover. They partner with airlines like Cathay Pacific and Emirates. And their award chart is reasonable in most cases.

So the ability to:

  • Earn Alaska miles when traveling to Iceland on a paid ticket is really useful
  • Redeem miles for non-stop flights to Iceland could be a good deal (depending on pricing)
  • Redeem Icelandair miles for something valuable — consider their award chart is extortionately expensive for travel on their own flights as well as Finnair — would be nice given that the airline has a history of selling miles cheap. One imagines though that the partnership learned from last time and won’t make cheap awards available the way they did before.

Alaska’s partner award chart does not list Icelandair at this point. And Icelandair’s redemption partners do not show Alaska. So redemption levels are a big question mark.

There remain open questions on this one, but it’s certainly a net positive for frequent flyers if it only gives us the ability to earn useful (Alaska) miles when traveling on a paid ticket on Icelandair.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is great news! I LOVE Iceland and have easy access to Alaska miles so I’ll probably be making more frequent trips now.

    I only wish I had kept the all the Icelandair miles I earned from our revenue trip back in June for inflight purchases on future trips. I didn’t think I’d get a chance to use them before they expired so I exchanged them to Amtrak guest rewards points for 30% of the face value on points.com. Even the awful inflight redemption exchanges would have been better value.

  2. Looking at a flight next autumn from SEA–>Berlin on IcelandAir. How do I find the miles earned on that flight? Kayak doesn’t show miles, and the Alaska Air website won’t let me enter TXL(Berlin) or KEF(Reykjavik) as a destination.

  3. What about using this to get to Iceland and then use WOW airlines to get all the way to Europe mainland? Would that work out to be a good deal? I fly coach all the time so do not mind the ULCC stuff or whatever.

  4. Gary,

    I am based on the east coast and do not fly Alaska very often. I will be flying however, from here to Iceland in late October. Would you suggest that it is worth it to still credit the Icelandair miles to Alaska? I will earn double points so I would get 10,000 miles for a roundtrip?

  5. @theaj – alaska miles are great, you can add more by transferring from starwood, they allow one-way awards even on their partner american airlines… so yes

  6. @Carl Iceland would almost certainly be counted as Europe for award pricing purposes so there would be no point to book the flight to Iceland only and then take WOW to the continent. Both Iceland and continental locations would be priced the same. Just find an available flight to your continental destination and then book it with a stopover in Iceland.

  7. Lindy, you can just look stuff like this up on on the Great Circle Mapper. SEA-KEF-TXL is 5122 one way or 10243 round trip.

  8. Ah, but Mike, I do not have any available rewards at this time. AMEX has locked up all my accounts and I do not have enough awards with anyone else so if I fly, it is on MONEY, not points or awards.

  9. @Carl

    Icelandair has always been known as a cheap way to fly to Europe. Since 1953, long before LCC, Icelandair was the cheap way to fly to Europe. Icelandair allows free stopovers in Iceland, on all their fares. WOW and Icelandair are very competitive on fares.

  10. @JohnB Ok, thanks for that info. I will have to sit and compare them some time. Usually my tough thing is the great prices all seem to start from the east coast and I am on the left coast! Appreciate the tip!

  11. @Carl,

    Icelandair fly from Seattle, Portland and Anchorage. Not SFO or LAX as they are too far for their planes. Alaska does codeshares with Icelandair, so other cities are available with a connection.

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