Alaska Airlines Stopover Rule on Domestic Awards

I’ve been intrigued by Alaska Airlines stopover rules lately.  On the whole, their mileage program seems to be actually making enhancements, while the devaluations have been rather minor (like a price increase on standard level awards on Alaska metal).

One of the more recent enhancements has been the ability to book one-way awards on most partners (except Delta and Korean).  While this is something that’s pretty standard throughout award programs, Alaska also allows stopovers on international one-way awards.

Particularly intriguing is the Cathay Pacific award chart for flights to Africa, India, and the Middle East.  A one-way Cathay First Class ticket to Asia costs 70,000 Alaska miles.  But a one-way Cathay First ticket to Johannesburg, which allows a stopover in Hong Kong also costs 70,000 miles.  The only price difference is incremental airport taxes.

That’s a great value, but it’s not something that many people will use often.

What really caught my eye recently was that Alaska Airlines allows a stopover on domestic one-way awards on its own metal.  This isn’t anything new, but it’s still worth noting.

This policy is huge for people who live in cities along the west coast with ample Alaska Airlines service.  You could potentially combine multiple trips into a single one-way award. For example, let’s say you live in Seattle.  You have an upcoming trip to New York as well as a future one to Los Angeles.  Most programs would charge 12,500 miles for each trip, so you’d pay 25,000 miles total.

Even everyone’s favorite domestic flight program, British Airways Avios, would charge 12,500 Avios for New York/Newark to Seattle and 7,500 Avios for Seattle to Los Angeles.  You’d pay 20,000 Avios for those 2 flights.

But you could book the same Newark to Seattle flight with Alaska Airlines and make Seattle your stopover.  It just happens to be your hometown where you’ll live your life for a few months, then pick up your trip to Los Angeles in the future.  You’d pay only 12,500 miles + $5 in taxes.

alaska domestic stopover

It’s the same concept with awards to Hawaii.  Alaska Airlines actually flies to Hawaii from a bunch of seemingly random cities, like Sacramento, Oakland, and San Jose, in addition to Seattle, Portland, and San Diego.

An itinerary like Orlando to San Diego, stopover, then San Diego to Maui would cost 20,000 miles, the same as an Orlando to Maui or San Diego to Maui trip.  The same flights would cost 25,000 Avios (12,500 points for each leg).  A fantastic deal for anyone who lives near San Diego.


alaska hawaii stopover

Consider the current 50,000-mile bonus on the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card. The spending requirement is $1,000, but if you spend $2500, you’ll have 52,500 miles.  That’s enough for 2 one-way awards to Hawaii (at 20,000 miles each) and 1 one-way domestic award (at 12,500 miles).

If you live in a city like Seattle, this would be good for a round-trip to Hawaii, a domestic round-trip, and 2 domestic one-ways. For example:

  • Newark to Seattle (stopover at home) to Maui = 20,000 miles + $5
  • Maui to Seattle (stopover at home) to San Francisco = 20,000 miles + $5
  • San Francisco to Seattle (stopover at home) to Washington DC = 12,500 miles + $5
The green lines are round-trips while the red lines are one-ways.

The green lines are round-trips while the red lines are one-ways.

This includes a one-way from Newark to Seattle, a round-trip between Seattle and Maui, a round-trip between Seattle and San Francisco, and a one-way from Seattle to Washington, DC. Without stopovers, that would cost 90,000 Alaska miles. By utilizing stopovers, it costs only 52,500 miles.  That’s a 42% savings in miles!  Even with Avios, it would cost 12,500 Avios x 2 for Seattle to Maui, 7,500 Avios x 2 for Seattle to San Francisco, and 12,500 Avios x 2 for Seattle to Newark/DC for a total of 65,000 Avios.

Of course, some people would rather spend the 65,000 Avios (especially since it’s fewer points with the frequent American Express transfer bonuses) and save the 52,500 Alaska miles for trips on Emirates or Cathay Pacific, but if domestic flying is more your style, this is something to consider.

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  • Asefp3

    I am actually doing this tomorrow (SEA – SAN – HNL), which 2 days in SAN. $20,000 miles.

    • Amol

      Nice! Enjoy Hawaii!

  • xlax

    Great info. What’s Alaska’s policy about changing dates after the first leg? This seems great if you can book the second leg and later change the date of travel a la AA. Thanks.

    • Amol

      Great question — I actually don’t know, seeing as how I haven’t had experiences with it.

  • aegt

    Good info and very timely post. I was about to ask this question last night on twitter since I was considering applying the BOA AS card multiple times. Folks on DansDeals have been successful in doing that.

    • Amol

      This card is churnable, but this particular 50K bonus has a caveat that people with the card can’t get it. Doesn’t say that on the 25K/30K versions though.

  • Vansh

    Do delta and AA honor Alaskan status? If yes, to what extent?

  • Mike

    Is there a restriction on distance for the leg after the STOP? Also what is the maximum number of days allowed for the STOP?

    • Amol

      Not really a restriction on distance since we’re talking domestic awards. The way to book these is to do a “Multi City” award booking and see how it prices out. I imagine that DCA-SEA(stop)-EWR wouldn’t gel since SEA isn’t a valid connection point between DC and NY, but trial and error is always best.

      As for how long the stopover … it could potentially be up to a year, which is how long tickets are valid for.

  • miz

    can this be done using any other FF program’s miles? Or do domestic stop overs only bookable with alaskan miles?

    • Amol

      Delta allows one stopover on a domestic roundtrip

      • miz

        no what i meant was on alaskan… do i have to use alaskan miles to book a domestic alaskan flight w/ stop over or can I use any other programs FF miles to book on alaskan?

        • Amol

          You can use Delta miles to book on Alaska, but you can only book roundtrips and you only get 1 stopover.

          You can also use AA miles to book Alaska one way but no stopovers.

          You can use BA Avios to book Alaska, but since you pay per flight, stopovers are intrinsically included.

  • miketown

    What are the ticket change rules for Award Tickets?

  • steven

    if you live in seattle, you still need to get SEA-NEWARK in the begining and DC-Seattle in the end to make all this round trip works, that’s another 25000 miles, so in the end 77500 miles to get 1 US-Hawaii+ 3 domestic round trip (SEA-NEWARK/DC/San Francisco), which is 115000 miles for Alaska without stopovers, plus you can still get stopover in Middle US EA-NEWARK and DC-Seattle

  • E

    Would sjd-lax(stop)-san-hnl work? Or does the stop have to the last connection before last leg?

    • Scott Mackenzie

      There’s no rule about when the stopover can be, but I don’t remember if Alaska publishes an award between SJD and HNL. That might require two awards.

  • Karla

    Does this still work? I found availability one way BOS-stop in SEA-MAUI for 20,000 on 2 dates. When I plug those same dates into a multi-city search the flights don’t even come up and nothing is under 30,000. What am I doing wrong? Can stopovers be booked online or only over the phone? Thanks!

    • Scott Mackenzie

      Stopovers must be booked on the phone. There is a $15 phone booking fee, but you might convince them to waive it since it was not possible to book online.

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  • Whathehell

    Your newwark to LA example is flawed. How does that help someone living in Seattle get to LA and Newark on the cheap?

    • Scott Mackenzie

      Seattle to DC is the other half of that journey, booked on a separate ticket but flown around the same time. It creates an open jaw itinerary, but the distance from Newark to DC is short.

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  • Beachboys

    Can I book from Nyc to Alaska (stopover) and destination Hawaii?

    • Scott Mackenzie

      I don’t see why not. But there are no non-stop flights from NYC to Alaska. You’d have to route through Seattle or Portland.

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