I previously wrote about ways you can collect and use Alaska Mileage Plan miles. The flights for which you can redeem these miles are relatively few out of Halifax. Still, within those options are further opportunities to maximize the value of your miles by including an extra destination in your trip. Alaska Mileage Plan generously allows one to add a free stopover on a one-way redemption. I played around on the Alaska Airlines website to see what possibilities exist and there are some interesting ones.
Alaska Mileage Plan miles may redeemed for flights on any partner airline. But you can only fly one of them. You cannot combine partners on a single ticket as you can with other frequent flyer programs. You can however combine a partner flight with an Alaska Airlines flight.
The partner airlines that fly out of Halifax offer seasonal flights only. These are Condor Airlines and American Airlines. Icelandair cancelled its route from Halifax due to the Boeing 737 Max 8 issue. Any other options would require a positioning flight to another city.
Use The Multi-City Search
Even though you’re booking a one-way flight, to include the stopover you need to select “multi-city”. It also saves a bit of time to search each segment separately first.
This stopover is straightforward. Condor flies from Halifax to Frankfurt so you can stop in Frankfurt. That gives you a chance to explore areas in the vicinity using Germany’s excellent rail network. Then continue your journey on to one of Condor’s European destinations. These tend to be in popular vacation spots. Check the FlightConnections website or the Wikipedia page for Frankfurt airport to see the options.
Here are a couple of examples:
Halifax – Frankfurt
Frankfurt – Split
25,000 AS miles + $116 USD
Or in the other direction…
Dubrovnik – Frankfurt
Frankfurt – Halifax
25,000 miles + $138 USD
American Airlines flies to New York and Philadelphia so those are obvious stopover options on your way to any AA destination.
Halifax – New York (LGA)
New York (JFK) – Buenos Aires
30,000 miles + $80 USD
Partner Airline + Alaska Airlines
This is where it gets interesting. Many in the Maritimes are quite accustomed to backtracking or flying in the opposite direction of your destination to catch your onward connecting flight. Normally, that’s a bit annoying. But in this case the odd routings work in your favour because apparently you can include a stopover on the other side of the continent.
Before I get to the flights, I should point out that availability is scarce and some of the search results you’ll find are quite wacky with large numbers of connections. These examples are just intended to shed a bit of light on what might be possible and potentially appealing to some travellers.
This one looks somewhat reasonable…
Halifax – Los Angeles (via Philadelphia)
Los Angeles – London
22,500 AS miles (off season) + $85 USD
But how about this one…
Paris – Anchorage (via Chicago and Seattle)
Anchorage – Halifax (via Seattle and Philadelphia)
30,000 AS miles + $100 USD
So, if you want to fly home from Europe to Nova Scotia by way of Alaska for a few days, it appears to be a possibility. I was logged in and added the flight itinerary to my “cart” as if I were going to book it and no errors popped up. Hard to believe. And the itinerary above also includes a full day in Seattle.
Finnair is an example of a partner airline where you would need a positioning flight to one of the North American cities it serves such as Chicago or New York. If you can get a cheap fare for that flight it gives you a chance to add a few nights in yet another city. Flying Finnair means you can have a stopover in Helsinki where one can also conveniently visit nearby Tallinn, Estonia by ferry. You then take another Finnair flight from Helsinki to one of many destinations in Europe.
New York – Helsinki
Helsinki – Malta
30,000 AS miles + $35 USD
Need Some Alaska Miles?
If you’re flying an Alaska partner airline you can credit those miles to Alaska Mileage Plan. Take a look at the earning chart for partner airlines to see how many you’ll get depending on the fare class.
An easy way to get a bunch of Alaska miles is to apply for one of the two MBNA Alaska Airlines mastercards available to Canadians – the Platinum Plus or World Elite. Sign-up bonuses are 20,000 or 30,000 respectively, with a $1000 minimum spend requirement in the 90 days from approval. Remember to apply through Great Canadian Rebates where a $60 rebate will effectively reduce the first year annual fee. Note that one cannot hold both cards simultaneously. It’s one or the other. But if you cancel one you may then apply for the other.
Many hotel loyalty programs allow you to convert your points to frequent flyer miles for various airlines. Before doing this be sure to consider the potential value you’ll get from a future hotel stay redemption with those points.
If you do e-Rewards surveys, you can get up to 2000 Alaska miles for 100 e-Rewards dollars. Note you are limited to one redemption per 30 day period.
When you need to book a hotel stay, watch for promotions from websites like Rocket Miles, PointsHound or Kaligo where you can earn frequent flyer miles. Just be sure the rate is reasonable compared to other booking sites.
If you need to top up your account you can also just buy some miles. There are sales occasionally but one typically has to buy a rather large amount to trigger the biggest discount or bonus. Currently there is a 40% or 50% bonus depending on the account. The real value in buying miles is by redeeming for business class flights where purchasing miles will cost much less than a ticket.
If you’re looking to visit two places on a single one-way reward ticket, redeeming Alaska miles is a good way to do it. These itineraries can be elusive so you’ll need to have flexibility with your travel plans. It would be great if you can line something up that corresponds with a cheap one-way paid fare or an Aeroplan redemption. Hopefully American Airlines will offer their seasonal routes to Philadelphia and New York again next spring.