If you’re based in New Zealand and you’re looking for a way to stockpile some valuable points currencies, it might be time to start considering Alaska Mileage Plan miles as a viable option.
At first it might sound like a strange play to begin piling on miles from Alaska Airlines, an airline based in the cold extremes of the north-west US, but you can redeem Alaska miles with regional airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Japan Airlines, Fiji Airways, and Korean Air as well as worldwide with airlines such as Finnair and Emirates.
With such a good payout, it can seem difficult to find a simple way to earn those miles here at home, especially with no dedicated credit card option, and flying directly on Alaska Airlines not being possible within New Zealand. However, there are ways to collect and start earning Alaska Airlines miles if you are intelligent and intentional about doing so.
Buying Alaska Miles
The best bet to earn a bunch of miles quickly is to purchase Alaska Airlines miles directly from the airline.
This is easily done through the Alaska Airlines website, and after you sign up for an account with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Programme, you are free to purchase miles in increments of 1,000 for 27.50USD (roughly 39 AUD), with somewhat regular mileage sale bonuses.
Miles purchases are capped at 150,000 per calendar year, so be sure to plan your purchases in advance.
Earning Alaska Miles
There are two key ways that you can begin earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles here at home.
Credit Card Spend
For Kiwis there is only one way to earn these miles from credit card spend: earning points with American Express Membership Rewards cards and transferring them first to Marriott Rewards and then onto Mileage Plan.
The sign-up offer for 80,000 Amex Membership Rewards points for the American Express Platinum Charge would get you just over 30,000 Mileage Plan miles through this transfer method, plus an ongoing effective earn rate of 0.83 Mileage Plan miles per $ spend on the card.
That is enough to redeem for a one-way Business Class flight between Auckland and Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific—easily paying for the first year annual fee, and some.
Another way to start racking up Alaska miles, albeit more slowly, is to begin crediting your partner flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Since Qantas is one of Alaska’s partners, any time you are flying Qantas, you could be earning Alaska Airlines miles. Just pop your Alaska Airlines number into your booking and miles should credit automatically.
Using Alaska Miles
It’s useless to encourage you to start stockpiling Alaska Airlines miles without giving you some sort of real incentive, so here are a few routes that are most likely to be useful.
1. Fly from New Zealand to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific
In Business Class, this fare will put you back only 30,000 miles which is an incredible sweet spot! With this deal, it would almost be ridiculous not to class up. Enjoy the captivating high rise of Hong Kong’s metropolis as well as the surprising natural areas and invigorating hikes just outside of the city.
2. Fly Business Class from New Zealand to the US on Fiji Airways
This trip could include a free stopover in Fiji, and the redemption is only 55,000 miles. With Fiji Airways flying direct to Nadi from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, this is a great option for anyone in New Zealand. You could fly to exciting west-coast US cities such as Los Angeles or San Francisco after a quiet island vacation.
3. Fly Business Class from New Zealand to Hawaii, the US or Mexico on Qantas
Instead of flying with Fiji, you can also fly with Qantas to sunny Hawaii, the US, or vibrant Mexico City. And don’t forget about making use of a stopover for no additional miles! For these routes, the business class redemption is only 55,000 miles.
4. Fly First Class from New Zealand to Hawaii, the US or Mexico on Qantas
This time, bump it up to First Class for only 70,000 miles – this is incredible value! At only 15,000 more miles than business class, you can make the same trans-Pacific flight but enjoy yourself with the comfort of Qantas first class (if you can find award availability).
5. Fly Business within Australia on Qantas
This deal is available from only 20,000 miles, which can be pretty inexpensive considering the size of Australia. While this option is available for most inter-Australia flights, it isn’t such a great deal for nearby cities such as Sydney to Melbourne. However, it would be a fantastic value on a transcontinental flight such as the route between Sydney and Perth, which Qantas offer for 36,000 points.
6. Fly Economy within Australia on Qantas
Putting you back 12.5k miles, this isn’t as good of a deal as the 10k miles that American Airlines charges for Economy within Australia. However, this can still deliver good value for expensive “off the beaten path” destinations, such as getting up to Hamilton Island or inward to Uluru.
Enjoy the tropical paradise of the Whitsunday Islands which are located close to the Great Barrier Reef, providing an excellent opportunity to go snorkeling. For a completely different trip, head to Uluru to explore the Red Centre of the Northern Territory. This massive sandstone monolith is sacred to indigenous people and seems to catch fire during sunrise and sunset.
7. Fly Business Class from New Zealand to the US or Canada with Korean Air
In Business Class, this redemption costs 125,000 miles roundtrip. You do need to book roundtrip, and availability can be hard to find. However, there are no fuel surcharges, and you can take a free stopover in Seoul when flying roundtrip with Korean Air. This would be an excellent chance to spend some time in the capital of South Korea, enjoying delicious Korean barbecue, deeply rooted historical districts, and dynamic shopping neighborhoods.
8. Fly Premium Economy from New Zealand to the US or Canada on Cathay Pacific
Premium Economy is heaps better than regular Economy and costs just 7,500 more miles when you fly with Cathay Pacific. Visit beautiful, mountainous Vancouver, exciting Los Angeles, or buzzing San Francisco using this route.
These are just eight of the route-class combinations for which you can use your new stash of Alaska Airlines miles. A few of them come with some great stopover options which can help you expand your trips in new and exciting ways.
However, it is always a good idea to know the rules regarding the stopovers before you take off. Stopovers are allowed on one-way trips unless you’re travelling with Korean Air, so you’ll need to book a roundtrip fare if you’d like to explore Seoul. Otherwise, you can add Fiji, Hong Kong, Seoul, or a US gateway city for some extra adventures on your one-way ticket.
Better yet, if you use Alaska Mileage Plan miles to fly back to New Zealand, you can stopover in a different city on your return flight!
Once you set up your Mileage Plan account, you can begin earning miles by flying airlines in our region like Qantas, Fiji Airways, and LATAM, and then crediting these flights to your Alaska Airlines account.
In many cases, you’ll earn more miles with Alaska than you would have earned with the airlines’ own frequent flyer programme. In that case, it’s a win-win!
Otherwise, a points transfer to Mileage Plan from American Express Membership Rewards (via Marriott) is a great option and will often come out as far better value than a transfer and redemption on the same route through a programme like Qantas Frequent Flyer or Asia Miles.
Have we convinced you to start building a stash of Mileage Plan miles? Tell us about your favorite Alaska redemptions in the comments.
Looking for more inspiration for how to spend your hard-earned frequent flyer points?
Here are some of our Best Uses of Points guides. There may be some overlap but each guide has its own twist.
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- The cheapest ways to fly Cathay Pacific First Class with Qantas Points
- Reader response: what is the best use of Qantas Points?
- Best uses of 100,000 Asia Miles
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