Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.
Alaska is a captivating destination with its natural beauty and unique Alaskan experiences. Many tourists visit Alaska to see the northern lights, cruise along awe-inspiring fjords and explore the rugged wilderness.
While accessing Alaska may not be as straightforward as other parts of the U.S., several domestic airlines offer services to our northernmost state. This guide will explore the best ways to utilize points and miles with airlines and discuss point-friendly lodging options in Alaska.
Top airlines for redeeming miles to Alaska
Alaska has three major airports: Anchorage’s Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) and Juneau International Airport (JNU). Anchorage and Fairbanks see most of the flights from the lower 48 states. But, especially since Alaska has high seasonality, some routes are only available during summer.
Unlike the major domestic carriers, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan still employs a distance-based award chart with starting award prices. This allows you to get an idea of the number of miles required for your flight in advance.
The distance from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Anchorage is 2,018 miles. So award tickets on this route should start at 10,000 Alaska miles each way in economy and 25,000 miles each way in first class, according to Alaska’s award chart. But you’ll often have to redeem more miles on this route.
Award tickets over 2,101 miles in the contiguous U.S., Alaska and Canada start at 12,500 Alaska miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles each way in first class. We can also find one-stop awards from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Anchorage for just 12,500 miles one-way in economy. You’ll occasionally find mixed-cabin awards with some legs operated by American Airlines for 25,000 miles, but you should expect to spend at least 55,000 miles for a first-class one-way award from the East coast to Alaska.
Unfortunately, Alaska is not a transfer partner of any major flexible bank currencies. However, you can transfer points from Marriott at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer. Or, if you want to earn more Alaska miles for a future redemption, you could open an Alaska Airlines credit card.
Alaska Airlines is a Oneworld airline, so you can also book Alaska flights through Oneworld partners, including American Airlines and British Airways. British Airways calculates award prices based on distance and segments, making direct flights the most cost-effective. For instance, you can book a one-way flight between Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and Anchorage for just 13,000 Avios each way.
It is easy to earn British Airways Avios because the program is a transfer partner of several major transferable currencies, including American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.
American Airlines operates flights to Anchorage from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Although American Airlines doesn’t offer many nonstop flights to Alaska, you can often reach the state with just one stop, thanks to American’s extensive route network.
American AAdvantage uses dynamic award pricing, so it’s impossible to predict the award rates for a particular flight without searching. However, one-way Alaska-operated award flights typically cost 15,000 American miles in economy and 30,000 miles in first class. Expect to spend more than that if you book an award solely consisting of American-operated flights.
As with Alaska Airlines, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to American Airlines. However, you won’t receive the 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer. You can also transfer Bilt Rewards points to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. You can also earn American Airlines miles by spending on American Airlines credit cards.
American Airlines is a Oneworld member, so you can also book American-operated award flights through Oneworld partners like British Airways and Alaska Airlines.
Delta Air Lines
Delta offers nonstop flights to Alaska from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and Seattle. But like the other airlines in this roundup, you can find connecting flights to Alaska from various locations with one stop.
As the first legacy carrier to implement dynamic award pricing, Delta award prices vary. But a one-way flight from Seattle to Anchorage often costs 12,500 miles for basic economy, 15,000 miles in economy, 18,500 in Comfort+ and 32,500 miles in first class if you book far enough in advance.
It’s easy to earn Delta miles, especially since you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio (beware of Amex’s excise tax on transfers to U.S. airline loyalty programs, though). You can also earn Delta miles through Delta credit cards.
Also, since Delta is a SkyTeam airline, you can book Delta-operated flights through various other airlines. In particular, you might want to consider booking short-haul Delta flights through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
United MileagePlus also uses dynamic award pricing. But, one-way flights from San Francisco to Anchorage usually start around 15,000 United miles in economy class and 61,800 miles in first class. However, expect to spend significantly more miles if you don’t have flexibility in your travel dates and times.
Luckily, it’s easy to earn United miles. United is a transfer partner of Bilt Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus, you can earn United miles through United credit cards, including the United Club Infinite Card and the United Explorer Card.
Consider booking your United-operated flight to Alaska using Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles if award space is available. The award rate may be less than if you booked through United MileagePlus. Plus, you can transfer various transferable currencies to Aeroplan and LifeMiles, making them more accessible to some travelers.
Alaska hotels you can book with points
Alaska offers various accommodation choices, including some wilderness lodges. You won’t find many chain hotels outside Alaska’s largest cities, so you may need to rely on online travel agency rewards, cash-back rewards or credit card travel portals to book some stays with points.
But if you’re visiting Alaska’s largest cities, you’ll find various opportunities to redeem hotel points for your stay. Here’s an overview of the options across some of the most popular hotel loyalty programs.
Hilton Honors has seven hotels in Alaska. Except for the Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks, all Hilton’s Alaska properties are in Anchorage.
Hilton uses dynamic pricing, so redemption rates vary. But we found the following award rates for Hilton hotels in Alaska for a random date this fall:
- Home2 Suites by Hilton Anchorage/Midtown: 42,000 points per night
- Embassy Suites by Hilton Anchorage: 50,000 points per night
- Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks: 50,000 points per night
- Hilton Anchorage: 60,000 points per night
- Hampton Inn Anchorage: 60,000 points per night
- Hilton Garden Inn Anchorage: 70,000 points per night
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Anchorage: 70,000 points per night
IHG One Rewards
IHG One Rewards has one hotel in Fairbanks and three in Anchorage. IHG uses dynamic award pricing, so you can’t predict how award nights will price. But for the same random date in October that we used in the Hilton example, here’s a look at IHG award pricing:
- Holiday Inn Express Anchorage: 26,000 points per night
- Crowne Plaza Anchorage-Midtown: 32,000 points per night
- Staybridge Suites Anchorage: 35,000 points per night
- Candlewood Suites Fairbanks: 35,000 points per night
Note that some IHG One Rewards credit cards, including the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card, offer a fourth-night reward that lets you pay zero points for every fourth night on award stays of four nights or longer. To earn more IHG points, consider signing up for an IHG One Rewards credit card or buying IHG points during a 100% bonus sale.
Marriott Bonvoy is yet another program that uses dynamic award pricing. Here’s a look at award pricing for Marriott hotels on the same random date in October that we used in the previous two examples:
- Marriott Anchorage Downtown: 31,000 points per night
- Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa: 31,000 points per night
- Aloft Anchorage: 32,000 points per night
- SpringHill Suites Anchorage Midtown: 32,000 points per night
- SpringHill Suites Fairbanks: 35,000 points per night
- Residence Inn Anchorage Midtown: 37,000 points per night
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Anchorage Midtown: 38,000 points per night
- Courtyard Anchorage Airport: 41,000 points per night
- Four Points by Sheraton Anchorage Downtown: 44,000 points per night
- Four Points by Sheraton Juneau: 44,000 points per night
- TownePlace Suites Anchorage Midtown: 59,000 points per night
- SpringHill Suites Anchorage University Lake: Unavailable on this date
World of Hyatt
World of Hyatt has three properties in Alaska: Category 3 Hyatt Place Fairbanks, Category 3 Hyatt House Anchorage and Category 4 Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown.
At Category 3 Hyatt hotels, you must redeem 9,000 to 15,000 points per night for a standard room. At Category 4 Hyatt hotels, you’ll need to redeem 12,000 to 18,000 points per night for a standard room.
Choice Privileges has several hotels in Alaska. Here’s a look at award pricing at each of these properties:
- Comfort Suites Anchorage International Airport: 20,000 to 30,000 points per night through Nov. 30, 2023
- Clarion Suites Downtown in Anchorage: 20,000 to 30,000 points per night through Nov. 30, 2023
- Quality Inn in Kenai: 20,000 to 30,000 points per night through Nov. 30, 2023
- Quality Inn in Kodiak: 30,000 points per night through Nov. 30, 2023
- Clarion Hotel & Suites Fairbanks near Ft. Wainwright: 20,000 to 30,000 points per night through Nov. 30, 2023
If you need to earn more Choice points, you can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou Rewards. You can also earn Choice points with the new Choice Privileges Mastercards.
Wyndham Rewards has 12 hotels in Alaska, including some in cities not served by the loyalty programs we’ve discussed so far. Here’s a look at the hotels in Alaska that you can book with Wyndham points:
- Ramada by Wyndham Anchorage Downtown: 15,000 points per night
- Bridgewater Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham, in Fairbanks: 15,000 points per night
- Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Eagle River/Anchorage Area: 15,000 points per night
- Super 8 by Wyndham Ketchikan: 15,000 points per night
- Baymont Inn & Suites by Wyndham Anchorage Airport: 30,000 points per night
- La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Anchorage Airport: 30,000 points per night
- Wingate by Wyndham Anchorage Downtown/Ship Creek: 30,000 points per night
- La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Fairbanks Airport: 30,000 points per night
- Ramada by Wyndham Juneau: 30,000 points per night
- Super 8 by Wyndham Juneau: 30,000 points per night
- Travelodge by Wyndham Juneau: 30,000 points per night
- Gilmore Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham, in Ketchikan: 30,000 points per night
Multiple airlines provide service to Alaska’s three primary airports. Alaska Airlines has the most extensive coverage and also provides many flights within Alaska. However, depending on your departure airport, you can also use your points and miles to fly with Delta, United or American Airlines. If you plan to redeem transferable points, compare cash fares with award redemption rates to ensure you get a good deal.
On the hotel front, the major chains have you covered in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. But if you plan to venture outside Alaska’s major cities, you may need to use online travel agency rewards or book through a credit card travel portal if you want to use points.
Additional reporting by Jasmin Baron, Carissa Rawson, Katie Genter and Ariana Arghandewal.