You Can Now Use Alaska Airlines Miles to Book Travel on Japan Airlines, and the Prices Are Fantastic

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a really unique program, which you should know about even if you never set foot in the home base of Seattle or for that matter in Alaska.

  1. Alaska has the last traditional frequent flyer program in the US. You earn miles based on distance flown, and for the most part their award chart hasn’t been seriously devalued outside of what they did with Emirates awards.

  2. They partner with a number of airlines from the oneworld and SkyTeam alliances, as well as standalone partners outside alliances like Hainan Airlines whose award availability tends to be quite good and also Icelandair. So you can earn and burn miles widely.

  3. They’re buying Virgin America, making them a substantial airline – 5th largest in the US and a major player on the West Coast

Back in May they announced a new partnership with oneworld carrier Japan Airlines.

They’ve just published award pricing for JAL flights and put redemptions online. American Airlines has been partners with JAL for years, and is even in a revenue-neutral joint business venture with them, and can’t manage to get redemptions up at

Here’s the new award chart for travel on JAL:

A few observations:

  • Alaska Airlines awards allow for a stopover. So you can travel US – Japan (stopover) – beyond on a one way award, and stopover in each direction on a roundtrip.

  • One Mile at a Time pointed out that Asia includes India. That means you can fly to India via Japan for the same price as a US-Tokyo roundtrip.

  • Award prices are eminently reasonable, at 130,000 miles roundtrip between the US and Southeast Asia for business class and 150,000 miles roundtrip for first class. First class is a no-brainer.

  • If Alaska Airlines were planning to seriously devalue their award chart they probably wouldn’t be introducing reasonable prices now only to yank them quickly.

  • Indeed the Virgin America merger probably gives us a pretty good window before they substantially devalue Mileage Plan. So even if the plan were to do so, airlines usually don’t want that to be the marketing message while they’re merging.

In general I find that Japan Airlines award space is pretty good close to departure (within a week of travel mostly, especially in first class) but that’s not guaranteed. Overall they release space close to departure rather than far in advance. However in a real pinch I find that Los Angeles – Osaka award space is really good.

Award space between Sydney and Tokyo is quite good as well but Alaska hasn’t published an award chart to fly JAL between the US and Australia — so that’s not an option with Alaska miles.

Meanwhile the Japan Airlines award chart to redeem for travel on Alaska is really good.

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, 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. I am planning a trip to Seattle (from NY area) in June and was surprised that Alaska had peak pricing and the RT was much more than the standard 25k miles. Is there any way to use Alaska miles on another airline to save miles?

  2. @Karen – For the past several years, finding SEA-NYC award standard award flights has been tough in the summer, particularly on the non-stops. Airlines tightened up availability and the “cruise ship effect” for summer in Seattle is in play. Do your search on Alaska’s website, and you may see options on Delta and AA as well, but I doubt any non-stops will be open.

  3. Gary, JAL award space for YVR-TYO and LAX-KIX are generally good for premium cabins, but the seats are the older Shell Flat Neo (angle flat) vs the newer Sky Suites (true lie flat). Just an observation.

  4. HI Gary ,

    Can you tell me best airline miles to accumulate for travel in business class from Kansas city (MCI) to Hyderabad (India) . I am thinking of Alaskan miles which is 82.5k miles one way . Can you suggest me any better way for this .

    Thank you

  5. If you call AA costumer service
    You can book a flight from NY to Tokyo for 25K AA miles on Japan Airlines.
    I did it with my gf
    100K AA miles
    2 round trips non stop to Tokyo on Japan airlines.

  6. good to hear about the online tool. however it’s a bit rich to call 120k for C awards from West Coast to Asia as “fantastic.” Maybe to India, but not China or Japan. And apparently I need to repeat that releasing award space a week before travel is basically useless to those of us with children who are unable to plan last minute trips.

  7. Or jobs that require you to give ample notice before taking off. Not all of us are full time bloggers 😉

  8. Crap, thought this was a different blog. All the BoardingArea blogs look so similar.

    Yes, Gary, I don’t know how you do it. Seriously, even just doing the blog is so time consuming, but you have so much more than that on your plate. I’ve always been impressed and dumbfounded at the same time. Do your days still have 24 hours in them, or do you simply not sleep?

  9. @Gary —> There is one thing you wrote in your piece above that concerns me. That is, “[T]he Virgin America merger probably gives us a pretty good window before they substantially devalue Mileage Plan.” This suggests that you anticipate a devaluation. Is this merely because “everyone is devaluing” their programs, or is there something more specific?

  10. It’s a pity JAL has no award availability with Alaska miles to/from Australia to anywhere. In this regard CX is far superior, even if their F availability is almost zero.

  11. @Gary —> That makes sense . . . I was just wondering if you had (and hoping you had not) heard anything specific.

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