Starwood Preferred Guest is a hotel loyalty program, but it’s different from other hotel programs. It allows members to transfer Starpoints to most of its 36 partner airlines at a 1:1 ratio. Plus, you’ll get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to a frequent flyer program.
In other words, 20,000 Starpoints are worth 25,000 miles with most of SPG’s partner airlines. That translates into 1.25 airline miles per SPG point, which a great value.
The recent merger of Starwood and Marriott makes Marriott Rewards points more valuable, too. Marriott members can now transfer points to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio. In most cases you’ll get more from your Marriott points if you transfer them to SPG first, instead of transferring them directly to a frequent flyer program. That’s because in most cases SPG offers much better transfer rates with airlines than Marriott does.
One great feature of SPG is that it has unique airline partners, like Alaska Airlines, that it shares with no other program. That means that the only way to transfer points to Alaska is through SPG, and Alaska’s Mileage Plan is an excellent program. Here are some great ways to get the most out of your SPG points after transferring them to Alaska.
Alaska Mileage Plan is the only U.S.-based frequent flyer program that allows free stopovers on one-way domestic award flights. You could, for example, use a free stopover to spend a few days in a hub like Seattle on a flight from New York to Anchorage. That gives you the opportunity to visit an extra destination for no additional cost.
Alaska even allows stopovers if you’re flying on a partner airline like American or Delta. Unfortunately, Alaska and Delta are ending their partnership on April 30, 2017. You can still book travel before that date, though, including flights that take place after May 1.
Get Pre-Devaluation Redemption Rates on American and Delta
American devalued its mileage award chart last year, and Delta devalued all its business class awards over the past two years. However, Alaska still uses the old American and Delta award charts for award redemptions.
That means you can save a lot of miles if you book award flights on American and Delta through Alaska. For instance, you can get a one-way flight on American to Europe or southern South America for 50,000 miles in business and 62,500 miles in first; to Southeast Asia for 55,000 in business and 67,500 in first; or to Australia for 62,500 in business and 72,000 in first.
If you’re after economy class awards, you can still get American’s old Off-Peak redemption rates on its old dates. You can get to Europe between October 15 and May 15 for just 20,000 miles one way. Don’t forget that Alaska gives you free stopovers at American hubs, which you can’t do through American’s own AAdvantage program.
Delta has drastically increased business class award levels on all their long-haul flights from the U.S. They’ve raised levels for one-way flights to Europe from 62,500 miles to 70,000 miles; to southern South America from 62,500 to 75,000; to the Middle East from 70,000 to 85,000; and to Australia from 80,000 to 95,000.
However, you can still get the old rates if you book through Alaska. The one catch is that you can’t book one-way award flights on Delta through Mileage Plan. Stopovers are still free, though.
Book Off-Peak Awards on LAN
You can fly one way to South America in an excellent LAN Premium Business seat for just 45,000 Alaska miles, or in economy for just 25,000 miles. To get that rate, though, you’ll have to fly off peak between March 15 and June 30, or from August through November.
To get the most out of your trip, you consider a stopover in Lima if you’re flying to Santiago, Buenos Aires or Iguassu Falls. While you’re there, you could also book a short trip to Cuzco and enjoy Machu Picchu.
Enjoy Cathay Pacific’s Premium Cabins
Alaska has decent award availability for premium class awards on Cathay Pacific, and the airline can take you beyond Southeast Asia. You can take Cathay flights through Hong Kong to the Middle East, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand. Business class awards from the U.S. start at 50,000 miles and first class awards start at 70,000 miles. That’s considerably cheaper than Cathay Pacific’s own Asia Miles program.
Try First Class on Alaska’s Newest Partner: Japan Airlines
While Japan Airlines (JAL) redemptions rates aren’t as good through Alaska as they are through its own program, Mileage Bank, they’re still a good deal. It costs just 70,000 Alaska miles to fly one way in first class to Japan, and 75,000 miles to travel anywhere in Asia.
Finding a first class award seat isn’t always easy, but you can find them if you book well in advance of your flight. Once again, Alaska’s free stopover can be very valuable. You could stopover in Japan en route to your main destination in Asia, which you can’t do with JAL Mileage Bank.
Fly to the South Pacific on Fiji Airways
One-way economy flights to the South Pacific cost 40,000 Alaska miles on Fiji Airways. But for just 55,000 miles, you could fly in business class instead. The upgrade is a great deal, particularly for such a long flight. With the free stopover, you could combine a trip to Australia or New Zealand with a few days in Fiji.
Get to Australia or New Zealand on Qantas
Qantas, another Alaska partner, also has very reasonable premium class awards. You can fly one-way to Australia or New Zealand for just 55,000 miles in business and 70,000 miles in first class.
As you can see, there are a lot of valuable ways use Alaska miles. That makes them a great SPG transfer partner. So consider maximizing the value of your Starpoints by transferring them to Alaska and taking advantage of one of these excellent deals.