Today, Alaska Airlines and Icelandair announced plans to restart their partnership as of October 1, and to celebrate Alaska Airlines will be offering double award miles when you fly Icelandair between October 1 and December 15, 2015.
What’s making this partnership even better is that it includes reciprocal elite benefits! The announcement from Alaska says that their MVP Gold and 75K members will receive complimentary access to the Icelandair Saga Lounge as well as additional unspecified benefits in 2016.
Alaska isn’t part of any ordinary alliance, so the benefits provided to its elite members are negotiated individually with each airline. Previously I’ve only seen such benefits when traveling on American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. If you fly on others such as British Airways or Cathay Pacific you get zilch.
Earning Miles on Icelandair
From the Alaska Airlines website, here’s more information on how many miles you can earn when you fly Icelandair. It’s not terribly good unless you are in a full-fare on premium cabin, but I think the major benefit of this partnership will be the ability to redeem Alaska miles on Icelandair as many people have Alaska miles and want to visit new destinations. Icelandair flights also tend to be cheap, so while still painful, it isn’t as bad as it first seems to receive only 25-50% of the distance flown on some fares.
Elite Qualifying Flight Miles: Earned flight miles and premium cabin bonuses on Icelandair count towards Elite Status.
Economy Cabin: Earn actual flight miles* flown in M, B, K, or Q classes of service.
Earn 50% of actual flight miles* flown in T, V, H, L, S, or O classes of service.
Earn 25% of actual flight miles* flown in N, U, or P classes of service.
Economy Comfort Cabin: Earn actual flight miles* flown in Y, E, or A class of service, plus 25% Bonus Miles.
Saga Class Cabin: Earn actual flight miles* flown in C, D, or J classes of service, plus 150% Bonus Miles.
*Earn 500 minimum miles on flights less than 500 miles. Actual miles flown = 1 mile per flight mile flown. The following classes will be excluded for accrual by Mileage Plan members: Z, R, G, X, or W. Industry and some deeply discounted fares are ineligible to earn miles.
Benefits of Icelandair Partnership
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and Icelandair Saga Club used to have a partnership from 2010 to 2013. Toward the end of that relationship, many people were purchasing cheap miles from Saga Club and redeeming them for first class awards to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines. That seems like an easy enough problem to solve — fix the Saga Club award chart — but instead things were shut down completely. Maybe there were other issues at play.
It’s good to see that both airlines are cooperating again. Icelandair is often one of the cheaper options to travel to Europe, offers a free stopover in Iceland for 7 days, and is one of the only options to visit Iceland on any kind of convenient itinerary.
Since the original partnership, Alaska Airlines has begun awarding redeemable miles and elite qualifying miles for travel with all international partners, so it’s easier to obtain status when you’re not flying Alaska.
However, I haven’t been able to find a Saga Club award chart to determine if those cheap Hawaii flights will be returning. Icelandair currently lists just Air Iceland and Finnair among its partners. It also appears that Alaska has not yet shared its award charts for Icelandair on its website. Expect continuing developments in the next few days.