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This Is What You Need to Look for When Using Miles to Book Partner Award Flights!

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Reader Mike commented:

What point value on Alaska Airlines is equivalent to the 12,000-mile level on Singapore Airlines?  I see some 30,000 mile flights from Oakland to Honolulu in June.  What I understand now is you can only book the lowest level award flights available on the Alaska Airlines website from the West Coast to Hawaii with 12,000 Singapore airlines miles.  Is that correct?
You’ll Spend 12,000 Singapore Airlines Miles for an Alaska Airlines Flight From the West Coast to Hawaii – but Which Are Eligible?

Mike is correct!  Any time you want to book an award flight with miles on a partner airline (in this case Alaska Airlines and Singapore Airlines are partners), look for low-level award seats.  Those are the only seats you can book with partner airline miles – this applies to booking partner awards on all airlines.

Here’s an example of what to look for when using Singapore Airlines miles to book award flights on Alaska Airlines.  But the same is true every time you book partner awards with any airline!

What to Look for When You Book a Partner Award

Alaska Airlines partners can only book low-level award seats.  So when you search the Alaska Airlines website you will see available award seats you can NOT book with partner miles.  If you are unsure how many miles it is for a low-level award then take a look at the Alaska Airlines award chart.  Or check the airline’s award chart for their own low-level prices.

Here’s a sample search for Alaska Airlines award flights from Seattle to Dallas in March 2018.  Not all of them are low-level awards.

Not All Alaska Airlines Award Seats Can Be Booked by Partner Airlines

You could also search for Alaska Airlines award flights on the American Airlines website, which will only display the Alaska Airlines awards available to partners.

How to Book Your Award Flight

You can book partner award flights online or over the phone, depending on the airline.  If you can search for the Alaska Airlines award on the partner airline’s website then you can book it online.  If not, then you’ll have to call to book.

For example, if you’re using American Airlines miles or Flying Blue miles then you can book Alaska Airlines award flights online.  But, to book Alaska Airlines award flights with Singapore Airlines or British Airways miles, you’ll have to call Singapore Airlines or British Airways.

You’ll Have to Call Singapore Airlines to Book Partner Awards With Alaska Airlines

You could call and have the phone agents look up awards flights for you.  But, it will go smoother if you search for the flights you want, and then give them to the agent.

If you need more specific guidance booking your award flight check out our award booking guides.  Or you could hire an award booking service to book the flight for you.

Know How Much You’ll Pay

Link:   Avoid Fuel Surcharges on Award Seats

Link:   Airline Award Charts

When you book an award flight you will pay in miles, and in cash (taxes & fees).  With in the US, taxes are usually fairly low (~$6 each way).  BUT some airlines have fuel surcharges on award flights, which can be hundreds of dollars!  Save big by avoiding flights with these fees.

Some Airlines, Like British Airways, Add Huge Fees to Award Flights

The miles you spend on an award seat will vary based on the airline’s award chart.  Airlines typically have 2 types of award charts: zone-based & distance-based.  Each chart has its advantages and weaknesses.

Distance-based award charts are great for booking short-haul flights because you’ll often pay fewer miles for short trips.   For example, British Airways only charges 7,500 British Airways Avios points for one-way flights under 1,151 miles departing from or ending in the US!

BUT, longer flight with lots of connections can end up costing more miles, because you will be charged per segment NOT for the total trip distance.

Zone-based award charts have fixed prices for flying from one zone to another.  For complex or longer flights this will usually be cheaper, but each airline defines their zones differently.  So do your research before you book.

Unlock Partner Awards With Transferable Points

Link:   Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Transferable points are amazing, because they give you the flexibility to book awards with many airlines.

Mike wants to book a partner award through Singapore Airlines, which is a great choice, because you can transfer points from all 4 major flexible points programs!

Alaska Airlines Has 5 Partners That Are Also Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my favorite option, because you can transfer them to 5 Alaska Airlines partners at a 1:1 ratio.  You can stock up on Chase Ultimate Rewards points with my favorite personal and small business cards.

Bottom Line

You can only book low-level award seats if you’re using miles from one airline to book award flights on a partner airline.  This is true for all airlines and their partners!

There are ways to search for partner low level seats online.  But depending on the airline, you may have to call to book.

Always compare award flight costs in miles, and taxes.  Because depending on which partner miles you use, you could pay very different prices!

Good luck booking your award, Mike!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)