Quick Tip On Using Alaska Miles For Delta Flights

This is a really short post about something that annoys me with Alaska miles.

Since 1) I’ve been getting large amounts of Alaska Miles (check out the Alaska 25k credit card) and 2) I don’t have status with any airline and always book last minute flights, Alaska miles have been great since they don’t have a close-in fee.

For some reason when you use Alaska Miles for Delta flights oneways are the same price as roundtrips.

Take for example a oneway domestic flight, say Dallas to New York, it would cost 25,000 miles for a oneway on Delta. Or it would cost 25,000 miles for a roundtrip.

The good news is that you could fly there one way on Delta and back on AA and it will count as a roundtrip, and still be 25,000 miles.

The bad news is that I was looking for a oneway and the only thing available was a Delta for 25,000 miles.

 

Solutions

Of course, if you need a oneway you could not book on Delta, and book on a different airline, but unfortunately I didn’t have that option.

Or you could just book as a roundtrip, and fly Delta or any airline back. But in my case, there was nothing available.

 

So I need to use Alaska miles, because it’s my only way of booking a Delta flight (the only flight available), but there’s nothing available for the return. Nothing.

Here’s the tip.

 

Turns out you can open-jaw on the destination but not the starting/returning city.

In other words, in order to be a roundtrip, a flight has to return to the city it started in.

With the Dallas to New York example, let’s say you can’t find a return flight, here’s what you can and can’t do.

You can “open-jaw” a ticket so you catch your flight back from a different city. Say you now catch a flight from Boston to Dallas. Start in Dallas to go to New York, but then you train up to Boston (or whatever) and eventually catch a return back to Dallas.

However, you can NOT catch a flight back to a different city. You can not do Dallas to New York, and then New York to Denver.

 

The only time it matters…

This is a little nerdy, focusing on a very specific routing rule. But the general point is that you can open-jaw on the destination but not where you started from.

Normally, there is no reason to care, because with Alaska you can just book oneways. Except, when you redeem for Delta flights, a oneway ends up costing as much as a roundtrip, so I try to make the ticket a roundtrip.

 

The same rules apply to international trips. Anytime you want to book a Delta flight using Alaska miles, you want to make it a round trip. Even if it means flying back on a different airline (the easiest solution), or returning from a different city.

 

Hopefully someone else also has a ton of Alaska Miles and is looking to book a Delta flight. My sense is that this will at least help someone, given the growing scarcity of award seats. Plus, when I realize a routing rule, I like to post it…

However, remember with all other airlines, you can just book separate oneways with Alaska miles at half the cost of a roundtrip.

 

Hope this helps someone.

– Drew

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11 Comments

  1. I’m sure you probably already know this and just have alaska 25k cards on the brain but there is now a 30k +100 dollar statement credit available

    Reply
  2. This is not a problem with Alaska’s program. Its just that Delta itself will not allow a one way award to be booked using Alaska points.

    Reply
  3. Great tip. Classic Drew. Good to have you back!

    Reply
  4. First off all, since I got into this hobby a year and a half ago your blog has been one of my favorites and I’m happy to see you posting again. (Maybe you’ve been more active in some other circles)

    This is very timely advice for me as I’m looking at Slc to New Orleans and south Florida to Slc flights, and the Alaska award flights are really expensive one way! Without checking myself, does the same rule apply to the 32.5k business class flights? I don’t fly much domestically outside of southwest..

    Reply
  5. Wow, 2 in a row, it’s raining Drew again!

    Hope ur back for realsies.

    Reply
  6. Are you sure what you are seeing is the actual cost for the one-way, rather than just a mistake on Alaska’s recently-updated award charts? That is, did you try to book a one-way and it priced as “double” (ie the same price as a round-trip)?

    Reply
  7. Appreciate your efforts on the blog and have missed your posts recently. Hope all is ok and you just needed some time off to recharge.

    Reply
  8. Alaska miles have the same issue booking Korean Air awards. As indicated by KenP, I imagine this is driven by Delta (and Korean Air), rather than by Alaska, and in Delta’s case is a vestige of it’s now-defunct ban on one-way awards in general. I’m a little surprised that the ability to book one-ways hasn’t been extended to Alaska by Delta, but then again the relationship between the companies doesn’t seem to have been very cooperative recently.

    Reply
  9. Good to see you back, hope you’re feeling well. I wanted to echo what Dan said and also point out that BOA combines hard pulls so you can get that other cashback card with good bonus (i think it’s NFL or something?) $200/500 spend on the same pull.

    Reply
  10. That is a bummer about not mixing partners, but I think it’s always been that way. I’m bummed about not being able to fly from Shannon to JFK for a stop over then continuing out of White Plains, NY (better award availability in the afternoon). So no open jaws on stop overs even though it will take about the same time to get to White Plains as getting back to JFK. Anyway, still got a great r/t from San Diego to Portland (23hr layover to meet some friends) to Reykjavik (4 day stop over) to Glasgow. Then returning from Shannon to NYC (7 day stop over) then back to San Diego for 117,500 pts and $100 mostly business class in August.

    Reply

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