Alaska Airlines Introduces One-Way Partner Awards on British Airways

Alaska Airlines began to introduce long-anticipated one-way awards on partners on March 20th.

This was a huge development, because while Alaska Airlines is a hugely flexible program — partnering with many of the airlines in both Skyteam and oneworld — and thus a good place especially for the infrequent flyer to credit flights they take on American and on Delta (since those miles get pooled towards earning rewards faster), the program was also really limited because if you wanted to redeem on partners you couldn’t mix and match them. You had to fly the same partner both ways, and that’s not always available. You could not do American one way and British Airways the other to make an award work.

The initial roll out of one-way partner awards was pretty limited — just American Airlines and Delta. And while you could combine American and Delta on a roundtrip as a result, if you wanted just a one-way award on Delta you would have to pay the round trip price (Delta doesn’t allow its own members to book one-ways for half the price of a roundtrip, but I was hopeful Alaska would since some Delta partners like Air France do).

Alaska, it turns out, is rolling out some of their partners for one-way awards, one at a time. I don’t believe they’ve stated which partners will not be bookable as one-ways.

Golfingboy provides a heads up in the comments that Alaska Airlines has now brought partner British Airways online for one-way awards.

This is great, although with the caveat that British Airways awards entail fuel surcharges — and those fuel surcharges are higher for premium cabin than they are for coach.

In the example above, New York to London one-way, a first class one-way award runs $429 in taxes and fees. (A return from the U.K. as opposed to from other countries would be even more money since it would entail the UK’s air passenger duty often known as premium cabin departure tax.)

What Alaska’s one-way awards don’t let you do is combine partners in a single direction. You can fly Alaska and a partner, but not two different partners (such as American and British Airways, flying Los Angeles to Dallas on American and then Dallas to London on BA).

British Airways aside, this is especially encouraging because it suggests that the timetable for additional partner rollouts may be fairly quick. Alaska is trying to get the functionality going quickly. Hopefully they continue to add additional partners in a matter of weeks. I’d especially love to see one-way awards on Cathay Pacific and on Emirates. (Currently the most favorable Emirates award chart much of the time is the Japan Airlines chart, but that doesn’t provide one-way options.)

These developments make Alaska Airlines miles increasingly valuable.

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. Alaska also just started awarding 30k (25k+5k bonus) for the BofA credit cards. May be targeted.

  2. Not mixing partners is still a major downside. Also, how well is their partner award search? Seamless online experience, or hassle-ful phone call everytime ?

  3. ohhh man, if they do Cathay that would be awesome..if they do Cathay AND emirates…watch out!

  4. I have noticed that the fuel surcharge fluctuates based on date of travel. Using IAD-LHR-JNB OW in F as an example:

    Saturday 4/13 – $683.50
    Tuesday 4/16 – $590.50
    Saturday 4/20 – $636.80

    As much as I am annoyed by the surcharges, when CX OW awards comes online, I wouldn’t mind doing West Coast to South Africa via LHR one way just for the sake of trying BA F out and seeing the CCR.

  5. “British Airways…fuel surcharges are higher for premium cabin than they are for coach.”

    I belive you had a typo there – the correct term is fraud surcharges.

  6. With Alaska’s relatively cheap prices on a lot of routes, there are some very attractive mini-RTW type trips that would come online if Cathay and/or Emirates do open up for 1-way awards.

    HKG-Europe and HKG-Mid East on Cathay are very cheap in business relative to similar length flights–USA-Asia & USA-Europe.

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