Stopovers are an excellent way to stretch your miles and add extra cities or destinations to your trips. Each miles rewards program has its own stopover rules and, in this post, I am going to discuss Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines allows one-way award bookings and, in certain cases, you can actually get two one-ways for the price of one.
Let’s look at the stopover rule on Alaska Airlines (you are also able to schedule stopovers on partner airlines, but those have slightly different rules so we’ll just cover Alaska Airlines flights in this post).
“When award travel is redeemed solely on Alaska Airlines, one enroute stopover is allowed for each one-way award. One enroute stopover is allowed on a one-way award. Round-trip itineraries with 2 stopovers, or one-way awards with 1 stopover may only be booked through an Alaska Airlines call center.”
One of my favorite ways to use stopovers is to schedule a stopover in my actual home city and use the stopover to connect two completely different trips. As an example, let’s say I live in Seattle and decide to take separate trips to New York and to San Francisco.
- Seattle to New York would normally cost 12,500 miles each way.
- Seattle to San Francisco would normally cost 12,500 miles each way.
If I manage to find award availability on Alaska Airlines for each of those segments, my one-way trip I would book on Alaska Airlines would look like this: New York to Seattle (stopover for a few months), Seattle to San Francisco. This one way trip from New York to San Francisco with a stopover in Seattle would cost me 12,500 miles total. You can see the complete pricing below:
It’s true I can make to save 12,500 miles and connect two different trips this way, but keep in mind these are only one direction each of two different trips. I will need more miles to fly to New York and I will also need more miles to fly back from San Francisco. However, if I were already planning to take a trip to New York and to San Francisco, then this is a great way to save miles.
Free Stopovers Overview
The stopover must be in a reasonable connection city.
If you’re flying from New York to San Francisco, then it’s reasonable to connect in Seattle and it’s no problem to schedule a stopover there. However, if you’re flying from Seattle to Portland, New York is completely out of the way. What this means is that, to use this trick, you pretty much have to be using it for two completely separate trips in both directions. You can’t just plan a round-trip and expect to get it for half price.
The stopover can be up to a year, but the whole trip must end within a year of ticket issue.
The stopover does not have to be on flights only within North America. Hawaii and Mexico work too.
If you’re going to include Hawaii or Mexico in your trip, then the price is going to go up as travel to Hawaii will cost 20,000 miles each way and travel to Mexico will cost 17,500 miles each way. Here are a few examples:
- Honolulu to Oakland (stopover) Oakland to Los Angeles will cost 20,000 miles.
- Cabo San Lucas to San Diego (stopover) San Diego to New York will cost 17,500 miles.
Keep in mind that, if you fly from Mexico or Canada, you will have to pay departure taxes as well so there will be an additional charge (usually under $100) in addition to the miles.
How to Book
If you read the rules, it says that to book one-ways with a stopover, you need to call Customer Service. That’s not really true as the website can do it as well. Let’s take my previous example of booking a trip from New York to San Francisco with a stopover in Seattle. You would first have to go to the Alaska Airlines Award Booking Website.
On the next page, you see a bunch of flights come up. If you see one for 12,500 miles, then you found low-level award availability and your connection is a valid stopover on your itinerary.
Once you’ve selected your flight, you can see the whole thing come up with your individual flights and price. As you can see, I have two completely separate flights here on separate trips and the whole thing still comes out to 12,500 miles + $11.20.
- Alaska Airlines allows a free stopover on one-way award tickets that are redeemed on Alaska Airlines operated flights.
- For those who live in a convenient Alaska Airlines travel location, there is an incredible opportunity to save lots of miles by scheduling a stopover in your home city.