Building my Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan balance with Emirates Airlines and American Airlines

I spent the last week of December vacationing in Dubai. Ajay & myself flew Emirates Business Class and while Ajay credited his miles to Emirates Skywards, I, on the other hand, chose a different program to bank my miles. Ajay is on course to building status on Emirates after years of avoiding it, partly because not many good options exist for his route network after the Jet Airways closure. He explains his airline status strategy in this post.

a person standing on the back of a chair in an airplane

This was my first flight with Emirates, and as much as I’m impressed with their premium product and experience, I don’t see myself flying Emirates regularly. Emirates is not a member of any of the three alliances, though they do have 15 partner airlines where one could earn and redeem Skywards Miles. A few of these are Air Mauritius, Alaska Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Japan Airlines, Jet Blue, Qantas and TAP Portugal.

a purple card with white text

So, I chose to go back to my old friend Alaska Airlines to bank the miles for this trip. For those of you who don’t know about Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, it is the loyalty programme of Alaska Airlines, a USA west coast based airline. While Alaska Airlines itself is not a member of Oneworld, Star Alliance and Sky Team, it has a great frequent flyer programme, which has its own set of 17 airline partners, where you can earn and redeem miles. Here is the complete list of their partners.

a screenshot of a group of logos

Some of these airlines are well connected in our part of the world such as EmiratesBritish Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Alaska has lower fuel surcharge, so even if I wanted to fly Emirates in the future, it would be cheaper for me to redeem my Mileage Plan miles than use Emirates Skywards miles for redemptions in Economy and Business Class. Also, Alaska Airlines cost the same miles whether redeeming for the East Coast or the West Coast.

a screenshot of a computer

Bear in mind is that Alaska’s Mileage Plan miles do not expire for two years as long as there is qualifying activity in the account, i.e. earn or redeems miles. Another thing to keep in mind is that most Alaska partner miles credit also allows you to build elite status on Alaska Airlines itself, which could come handy when flying Alaska Airlines (someday!) Last year I’d also credited a random set of Cathay Pacific flights and earlier than that, some American Airlines flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

a screenshot of a graph

The other program I was considering was Malaysian Airlines’ Enrich frequent flyer program. Still, since Malaysian is already a part of Oneworld alliance and I have a healthy balance in Avios, there wouldn’t be much value in diluting my bank of miles across different Oneworld carriers.

Instead of collecting small puddles of miles in many airlines, I prefer to consolidate my miles across 3-4 frequent flyer programs. Last year my parents flew to the US on British Airways and took a few flights within the USA on American Airlines; instead of opening two separate frequent flyer programmes, I credited all those flights to Alaska.

Alaska also runs various promotions on buying miles across the year, which makes it an excellent choice to consider buying miles to reduce the cost of premium cabin travel.

Have you been using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan? What are your thoughts about this programme?

Alaska Air Mileage Plan


  1. Figured I was the lone holdout living in India and still earning and spending Alaska miles. Good to see a few more on here.

    I started building this when I was in Seattle and travelling for work 45+ weeks a year. Now 10 years since I moved back to India, I still have a pretty sizable chunk of Alaska miles left and still earning bits and pieces to keep them active. I absolutely love their network of partners.

    Its a shame I still have to use their branded BoA Credit card but the cost of maintaining those miles have to be paid. 🙂

  2. You can forget about American Airlines mileage credit. As of March 1, 2020, the only mileage earning on AA to AS will be only on codeshare flights which are priced way too high to be considered.

      • It doesn’t make sense for Indian CC holders due to poor conversion. If I have to fly Emirates First then I would rather transfer my CitiPrestige points to Qantas and book Emirates award ..though the YQ is high.

  3. As someone who flew recently on Alaska in Nov to go from JFK to San Jose, I can vouch for how much better their business class product vs even something like AA for flying domestic in the US.

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