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Don’t Forget About Alaska Airlines Partnerships

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I recently booked a flight on Cathay Pacific to go with my husband and daughter to Hong Kong.  We are planning to leave the baby behind so we can do our first international trip with our “big girl” before she starts kindergarten in the fall, and school schedules make traveling more challenging.

For this flight, we managed to score a great deal on tickets at under $1000 apiece from SFO, but this meant booking a discounted economy fare class (V) on Cathay Pacific.  One of the reasons we were interested in Cathay Pacific was that it is an American Airlines partner in oneworld, and we hoped to earn some American miles in the process.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to earn American Airlines miles on Cathay flights for most of the discounted economy fare classes (see this chart), including our V class flights.

I’m never one to leave frequent flyer miles on the table, so I kept looking to see if we could earn something for the nearly 7000 miles of flying that we will each be doing.  I found that V fares are eligible for accruing miles in Cathay Pacific’s own mileage program (Marco Polo/Asia Miles), so we next considered joining Cathay’s mileage program to earn miles there.  But it didn’t seem likely that we will fly Cathay again any time soon since we mostly travel domestic, so I was afraid these miles would end up orphaned and expired.

Finally, I stumbled across evidence that Cathay actually has a partnership with Alaska Airlines.  Alaska is one of the few major airlines that is not in an airline alliance.  Instead, it partners with a variety of domestic and international airlines for earning miles and redeeming award travel.  Alaska has also recently expanded its presence in my favorite hometown airport, Oakland, and my family likes flying Alaska’s flights from OAK to Hawaii.  It is also one of my favorite airlines to fly with kids.

As luck would have it, my Cathay Pacific V class fares are eligible to earn 50% of actual miles flown in Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program.  Still not ideal, but better than getting nothing.  And we will actually have occasion to use the Alaska miles in the future.

The lesson to be learned here is to always check for partnerships outside of the major alliances to make sure you are getting miles you can use.  Alaska Airlines is especially good for anyone based on the West Coast or Hawaii, as it has partnerships with American, Delta, Cathay Pacific, Air France, Qantas, and many more.

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