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aer lingus business class cabin

A Neat Trick to Book Biz Class for Fewer Alaska Miles

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Alaska Airlines has made some major changes to its Mileage Plan program recently with new award charts that spell out a few new deals for redeeming miles on partner airlines along with many increases. But it seems like the airline might have let a few things slip through the cracks – in a good way.

Most business class fares between the U.S. and Europe now clock in at 55,000 miles each way – or more flying to and from the West Coast. But if you add a connection in economy in the States or on the other side of the pond, you can cut the final price as low as 45,000 miles each way.

So while booking Aer Lingus business class from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Dublin (DUB) will cost you 55,000 Alaska miles …


msp to dublin on aer lingus


… tack on a connection to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) – or virtually anywhere else in Western Europe, for that matter – and the total cost drops to 45,000 miles. 


msp dub cdg aer lingus


You can even pair this trick with Alaska's amazing free stopover feature, building in a three- or four-day stop in Ireland before continuing to Paris. Still, it costs just 45,000 miles each way.


aer lingus business class stopover


This mixed-cabin trick sometimes works on longer transatlantic flights from the West Coast, too. Those business class awards normally cost 70,000 Alaska miles, but adding a connection in economy can bring your rate down to 55,000 miles. 


lax to london nonstop awardlax to chicago to london


In each example, these partner award tickets with an economy connection are pricing out lower than what they're supposed to according to Alaska's own award chart. Because the flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to London-Heathrow (LHR) measures in at 5,697 miles, a business class award should cost 70,000 miles. And yet here we are, booking for 15,000 fewer miles!


alaska award chart


And it explicitly contradicts Alaska's published rules, which clearly state: “Mixed-cabin itineraries are booked at the award level listed for the highest class of service of any included segment. For example, where one segment is in Main Cabin and another segment is in Business Class, the number of miles required will correspond to a Business Class itinerary, regardless of the relative duration of each segment”

Saving an extra 10,000 to 15,000 miles when flying business class is huge – especially with how much harder it can be to earn Alaska miles compared to the likes of Delta or United. That said, this trick is hit or miss.

It doesn't appear that you can book business class to Europe from the East Coast for any cheaper than 45,000 miles by adding a segment in economy. Not every connection will result in savings, either. And while it might be more widespread than just Europe, I haven't been able to find any similar examples elsewhere across the globe – at least not yet. 

To quote the wise words of a certain San Diego TV news anchor: “Sixty percent of the time it works, every time.” 

Airline mileage programs are full of these quirks, nuances, and workarounds. Learning about them and exploiting them to your advantage is the name of the game when it comes to redeeming frequent flyer miles. 

And Alaska is far from alone in cutting travelers a discount when booking this type of mixed-cabin itinerary using miles. That's a hallmark of Avianca LifeMiles: Adding a connection within Europe in economy can make what's supposed to be a 63,000-mile charge in business class across the Atlantic drastically cheaper. 


boston to athens lifemiles mixed cabin awards


But for Avianca, it's clear: The final price is based on the percentage of your total trip you'll be spending in each cabin. According to Alaska's own terms, this isn't supposed to work, period. And yet it obviously does!

I can't quite figure out the rhyme or reason for when this mixed-cabin discount works and when it doesn't with Alaska, though. Why does connecting through Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) on the way to London-Heathrow (LHR) drop the rate to 55,000 miles? But if you have a layover in Charlotte (CLT) or Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) instead, it still costs the normal 70,000 miles? 


lax to london connections alaska


I don't know … and I'm guessing Alaska Airlines doesn't either! 


Bottom Line

It's probably only a matter of time before Alaska fixes this quirk with connections that can make a business class ticket to Europe even cheaper. But until the airline does so, it's yours for the taking!

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

3 Responses

  • Expect this loophole to be fixed now it’s been pointed out online. Not like people in the industry don’t notice these blogs

  • I would rather use the extra 15,000 miles and go nonstop then add extra flights/layovers from LAX to LHR

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