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United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Vancouver
posts: 1
reviews: 2
United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Hi. I have 150,000 air miles on my credit card and have an option to transfer it to United or Alaska Airlines. I was hoping to go to Europe or Asia with the miles.

Does anyone have advice on which airline is better for reward travel to Europe or Asia. I was thinking of traveling during low season. Thanks for your help

10 replies to this topic
Chicago, Illinois
posts: 5,173
reviews: 75
1. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

While I'd recommend calling both airlines and asking them about award travel on some flights you're considering to see which has what options available, it's got to be United. United is a bigger airline. They are part of Star Alliance, which is the biggest global alliance. You can use reward miles to book awards on their Star Alliance partners. In particular, United has a lot of flights to Asia. I don't think Alaska airlines will have anywhere near the reach to Asia or Europe. I think your options on Alaska will be a lot more limited.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 15,416
reviews: 5
2. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

I would also inquire and research both programs. United has the best coverage as an airline and as part of Star Alliance (including Air Canada). But, Alaska, while not part of any alliance, has a very good set of partner airlines with whom you can book award tickets.

alaskaair.com/content/…partner-overview.aspx

united.com/web/…default.aspx

Although this is just for a deposit of your 150k miles and award availability, think also about which program would fit your flying plans best.

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 3,339
3. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Actually if the purpose of the transfer is just for a trip to Asia or Europe, I'd look at the award mileage tables for both airlines.

For example, in low season, a coach round trip from Canada to Asia using Cathay Pacific (Alaska partner) costs 60,000 miles, while using Air Canada or ANA (Star Alliance/UA) it's 65,000 miles. Business class is 100,000 miles using Cathay Pacific; 120,000 using United or its partners.

It's worth researching both programs - there are many differences that might or might not be important to you.

Riverside...
posts: 1
4. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

I have been an Alaska Airlines passenger for decades. Without my knowledge (they say they sent me an email to warn me but it never arrived), they canceled my account with more than 20,000 FF miles in it because I hadn't flown with them in 2 years. Ridiculous.

To get them back, I would either have to pay them $75 or sign up for one of their credit cards (I do not like credit cards and pay with cash whenever possible).

This company used to have character and stood out from the crowd with its customer service. Today, it's a shadow of its former self. Disappointing customer service, antiquated policies (expiring miles? charging for checked baggage?) and an unwillingness to help a long-standing customer.

I recommend you use another airline. Or at least, use another FF program. Delta, in which I've had points for years, has not canceled my account. Others clearly appreciate their passengers more than Alaska Airlines. And that is unfortunate.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 5,173
reviews: 75
5. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Every airline's miles expire after about 2 years if there's no activity in the account. Alaska is not unusual in this respect.

Palmetto, Florida
posts: 2,105
reviews: 10
6. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Actually Delta miles don't expire (as of now). It's their selling point. Too bad it's difficult to get flights you want with them.

AA and UA miles expire if no activities in 18 months. I have had good luck booking award tickets with both UA, AA.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 5,173
reviews: 75
7. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Sorry. Delta has few flights from ORD where I am so never fly them. Still, almost every airlines miles expire. It's not unique to Alaska.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 7,651
reviews: 53
8. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Disappointing customer service, antiquated policies (expiring miles? charging for checked baggage?) and an unwillingness to help a long-standing customer.

-----------

If you hadn't flown them for 2yrs you're a former customer not a long standing one. They are called frequent flyer programs for a reason.

Expiring miles is standard practice. I'm not sure how charging for checked bags is "antiquated". Again seems standard to me and a relatively recent phenomenon on legacy carriers.

In my mind AS offered you two reasonably good options to keep your miles alive. Just because your own lifestyle choices don't gel with their options doesn't, IMO, mean you can look down upon the entire airline in the whiny, small child throwing toys from the pram, way that you have.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 1,826
reviews: 12
9. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska Air is a fantastic airline, but they have no direct international service outside of North America.

I have their VISA card and have booked a fair amount of award travel with them, using the annual companion fare as well as miles. I don't use the Alaska card that much (prefer to concentrate my spending on my Skymiles AMEX), but I did put one recurring monthly charge on it to make sure the account stayed active. I also try and take advantage of some of their mileage promotions on qualifying third party purchases.

Overall I have been very pleased with Alaska, both as a customer and cardholder. However, if your goal is to travel to Europe or Asia (and your only choices are Alaska and United), then I would probably go with United.

-JimG

Edited: 9:49 am, September 28, 2013
Fortaleza, CE
posts: 6,672
reviews: 348
10. Re: United Mileage Plus or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Not just a matter of how many miles are theoretically required, but whether you can find actual availability. I've found it very tough with international trips on UA or AA, and even more difficult if more than one airline is involved. Try some dummy bookings on the airlines' Web sites, or, if necessary phone them. In general, I've found UA having slightly higher mileage requirements for flights than is AA, and Delta very much higher. I've used my UA and AA miles to book first class domestic flights. Finally using some Delta miles, for an economy class flight on Alaska Airlines (BUR-SEA).

Edited: 3:46 pm, September 28, 2013
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