In a hugely exciting development this morning (first spotted by eagle-eyed Prince of Travel reader Andrew), it appears that Qatar Airways awards are now live and bookable on the Alaska Mileage Plan website.
The Qatar Airways and Alaska Airlines partnership was expanded towards the end of last year, with a view of introducing reciprocal mileage redemptions in the spring of 2021.
That launch was eventually pushed back to August 2021, and it appears we’ve finally gotten our new redemption opportunity a couple of days early.
Redeem Alaska Miles on Qatar Airways
Until now, it’s been a mystery as to how many miles Alaska Mileage Plan would charge for booking Qatar Airways.
As of today, we know that it’ll cost a baseline price of 42,500 or 85,000 Alaska miles to fly Qatar Airways from North America to the Middle East in economy or business class, respectively. There also aren’t any fuel surcharges for Qatar Airways redemptions with Alaska miles.
For Canadians, the best route to book is the direct Montreal–Doha route, which is served by Qatar Airways’s flagship Qsuites product.
West Coast residents may also prefer to pop down to Seattle for the direct 14-hour Qsuites flight.
It appears that there’s some element of dynamic pricing to Alaska’s partnership with Qatar Airways.
Pricing also displays at the level of 170,000 Alaska miles for a one-way flight in business class, presumably indicating that the cheapest fare buckets in business class are sold out and you now have the option to book a more expensive fare bucket for more miles.
(This isn’t the first Alaska partner that has this type of dynamic pricing, as Aer Lingus awards already work this way. Thankfully, Qatar Airways typically makes plenty of award space available at the saver level, so you should never resort to the dynamic pricing option unless you’re absolutely swimming in Alaska miles.)
Taking a look at awards to other regions of the world, it appears that flights from North America to the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Subcontinent – including the Maldives! – are also pricing at a baseline of 85,000 Alaska miles one-way in business class.
Meanwhile, flights to sub-Saharan Africa are more expensive, starting at 120,000 Alaska miles one-way in business class and going up to 280,000 miles one-way.
Awards from North America to other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and Australia, do not appear to be bookable on a single award on Qatar Airways via Doha.
However, it’s possible to book flights between regions on Qatar Airways to, from, or via Doha.
Going to Europe, it’ll cost 25,000 or 65,000 miles in economy class or business class, respectively.
Going to Asia, it’ll cost 30,000 or 70,000 miles in economy class or business class, respectively.
Meanwhile, going further in Asia to Tokyo, it’ll cost 35,000 or 80,000 miles in economy class or business class, respectively.
Pricing within the Middle East isn’t the most competitive, as you’ll pay up to 60,000 miles for a business class product marketed as “First Class”. It’d be a better deal to use Avios here.
Direct flights from Doha to sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and Australia don’t appear to be bookable with Alaska miles, which is a little strange since it is possible to route from North America to sub-Saharan Africa – but this type of quirky routing restrictions is how Alaska has always operated.
Alaska Mileage Plan offers a free stopover on one-way itineraries as a major perk of the program. At this stage, it appears that the stopover is bookable on routes to the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa…
…but not on routes to the Indian Subcontinent. I’ve never seen this type of geographic restriction on the Alaska stopover feature before, so I’m hoping this is something that gets enabled at a later date rather than a true restriction.
Is Redeeming Alaska Miles on Qatar Airways a Good Deal?
Taking a first-pass look at the redemption prices, I’d say that the most exciting deal from a North American perspective is the new ability to book a one-way Qatar Airways business class flight from North America to the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Subcontinent for only 85,000 Alaska miles and no fuel surcharges.
That’s a fantastic sweet spot for these routes, especially if you’re headed to the Maldives or India. For comparison, British Airways Avios would charge 154,500 Avios for this journey, while Cathay Pacific Asia Miles would charge 90,000 Asia Miles for this journey – both with additional fuel surcharges.
On the other hand, American Airlines AAdvantage would only charge 70,000 miles for this journey – but it’s harder for Canadians to earn AAdvantage miles than Alaska miles, since we have a co-branded Alaska credit card issued by MBNA on which we can earn the signup bonus with a fair bit of regularity.
Meanwhile, another natural point of comparison might be our very own Aeroplan program – which would levy 100,000 Aeroplan points for most routings to the Maldives or India on any carrier, let alone one of the world’s leading business class products!
Indeed, I’d say that we’re about to see a predominant Canadian loyalty strategy going forward in which flights to the Asia-Pacific are best served with Aeroplan points, and flights to the “Atlantic zone” of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Subcontinent could very well be best served by redeeming Alaska miles on Qatar Airways.
Those award charts may be subject to change now that Alaska has joined Oneworld, although we’ve been assured we’ll receive at least 90 days’ notice if any existing charts were to change.
For now, the Alaska program continues to be laden with sweet spots, and it just gained a new one today with the ability to fly Qsuites across the world for only 85,000 Alaska miles.
Alaska Mileage Plan has finally introduced Qatar Airways redemptions, and I’m very happy to see Qsuites flights being priced at a reasonable rate of 85,000 Alaska miles one-way. For many Canadians, this will be the best and most accessible way to book the world’s best business class experience for themselves.
I’m looking forward to playing around more with the Alaska search engine to see if any quirky routings can be teased out – and also to see what Alaska has in store with us ahead as it continues its Oneworld integration.