Shhh… Upgrade With Avios And Get More Alaska Mileage Plan Miles Than You Might Expect

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A few weeks ago I wrote a couple of pieces highlighting the excellent Premium Economy fares British Airways had to the USA and how it was possible to upgrade them to Business Class (Club World) using Avios. If you happened to take advantage of those deals (or ever use Avios to upgrade), you may wish to consider crediting those flights to Mileage Plan – the loyalty programme of BA’s partner Alaska Airlines.

British Airways 747

This may sound a bit strange, but there are actually three very good reasons for doing so.

Reason One:

Alaska Mileage Plan has a fantastic award chart. With the constant devaluations to American AAdvantage and BA Executive Club, I would argue that Alaska is the obvious place to credit eligible flights these days unless you are targeting OneWorld elite status. Because Alaska isn’t actually in one of the big three alliances, you can also credit flights from most of their eclectic range of partner airlines including KLM/Air France and Emirates.

How good is the award chart?

Well, Alaska basically still uses an equivalent of the (excellent) old American award chart for redemptions on American Airlines – which means 20,000 Miles off peak in Economy and 50,000 in Business to anywhere in North America, an absolute steal to the West Coast! They are plenty of other great deals too, including one-way in Business between Europe and Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific for just 42,500 Miles. No fuel surcharges, and you can sometimes work in a free stopover, even on one way flights too! For reference, BA want 90,000 Avios (more than double!!) for exactly the same flight.

cathay pacific business class
Cathay Pacific Business Class

The Alaska Mileage Plan way of doing things takes a bit of getting used to, but the value can be exceptional.

Reason Two:

Mileage Plan’s earning rates for credited BA flights in Premium Economy, Business or First Class are pretty good.

alaska ba earning chart

As you can see, depending on the fare class, you get 100%-150% of flown miles for Premium Economy, 150%-250% of flown miles for Business Class, and 250%-300% of flown miles for First Class.

For flights to the West Coast especially, those numbers can really add up. London to Los Angeles is about 5,450 miles each way, so the total flown miles would be 10,900.

If you credited a BA flight on that route to Alaska, you should end up with approximately 10,900-16,350 Mileage Plan Miles for Premium Economy, 16,350-27,250 for Business Class, and 27,250-32,700 for First Class.

Emirates First Class shower
You can redeem Alaska Miles for Emirates First Class (and be as excited about showering in the air as this guy!)

These numbers are the same as you would earn in Avios by crediting to BA, but Alaska Miles are worth considerably more than Avios, in my opinion


When you upgrade a BA flight using Avios you are supposed to earn the number of Avios/Miles due for your original class of travel, not your upgraded class. This is supposed to happen whether you credit the flight to BA or one of its partners, but it doesn’t always work like that in practice!

I strongly suspect that it isn’t the only example around, but Alaska Mileage Plan routinely credits Miles for the upgraded class rather the original class.

This means that if, for example, you use Avios to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business Class, you will get 150-250% of flown Miles back as Alaska Miles rather than the 100%-150% you would expect.

Bonus: As an added incentive to credit partner flights to Mileage Plan, Alaska are currently offering 1,000 Bonus Miles for each different partner airline you credit before 15th September.

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