Alaska Airlines recently added Iberia and Royal Air Maroc as Mileage Plan redemption partners. These additions are a continuation of the program expanding its redemption partners after the airline officially joined the Oneworld alliance in March 2021.
Prior to this, the most recent redemption partner was added last summer, when flights on Qatar Airways become available for mileage redemptions.
This post looks at redemptions with these two new partners using Alaska Mileage Plan and compares similar routings with other loyalty programs.
Redeem Alaska Miles on Iberia
Based in Madrid, Iberia serves a total of 120 destinations in 45 countries. The vast majority of its flights are to European destinations, although they also service North America, South America, Northwest Africa, and a few destinations in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any direct flights between Canada and Madrid. So, you’d need to catch a connecting flight to any of the American hub cities in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York (JFK), and Boston.
A one-way flight between North America and Madrid costs 35,000 miles in economy and 75,000 miles in business class. While Iberia does offer a premium economy cabin on some flights, it is not yet available for redemption bookings.
To catch a connecting flight to another destination in Europe from North America, the cost in points is the same, albeit with slightly higher taxes and fees.
Flights from South America to Europe cost 50,000 miles in economy or 90,000 miles in business class. Note that Iberia is currently the only Mileage Plan partner that can be used to fly from South America to Europe.
Flying with Iberia from the limited destinations in the Middle East to Madrid will burn 25,000 miles in economy or 55,000 miles in business class. Currently, Iberia only serves Tel Aviv (daily) and Malé (seasonally).
Interestingly, flying via Helsinki with Finnair would save a cool 15,000 points in business class, which is a topic that is discussed later on in the article.
Should you find yourself wanting to fly from Senegal, Morocco, or Algeria to Europe with Iberia, it would cost you 17,500 miles in economy or 45,000 miles in business class.
Again, we see that choosing to fly with another airline could result in savings. These results show that flying in business class with Royal Air Maroc instead of Iberia would save 10,000 miles.
Let’s now have a look at the new redemption charts for Royal Air Maroc.
Redeem Alaska Miles on Royal Air Maroc
Based in Casablanca, Morocco, Royal Air Maroc serves over 100 destinations. The majority of its flights are to destinations in Europe and Africa, with limited service to North America and the Middle East.
For Canadians, the flight between Montreal and Casablanca is the most interesting routing, although the pricing is certainly on the expensive end.
A one-way flight between North America and Morocco costs 50,000 miles in economy and 100,000 miles in business class.
Given that the flight is under seven hours in duration, this cost seems particularly high, especially considering that you can instead fly between North America and Asia in First Class for 70,000 Alaska miles.
Further, with Cathay Pacific, you can fly between North America and Africa for significantly less.
Flying from North America to Europe on Royal Air Maroc costs 60,000 miles in economy or 120,000 miles in business class.
As you could redem 75,000 miles to fly from North America to Europe with Iberia, or for even less with other airlines in the program, I don’t imagine this will gain too much traction with Alaska Mileage Plan members.
Flights to the Middle East via Casablanca cost 65,000 miles in economy and a whopping 150,000 miles in business class.
Flying Royal Air Maroc between Africa and Europe costs 17,500 miles in economy and 35,000 miles in business class.
Meanwhile, for flights within Africa, the cost is 20,000 miles in economy and 45,000 miles in business class.
Lastly, originating in Africa and flying to the Middle East will cost 32,500 miles in economy and 70,000 miles in business class.
Is Redeeming Alaska Miles on Iberia and Royal Air Maroc a Good Deal?
In short, not really.
While the cost of taxes and fees is reasonable, as neither carrier levies fuel charges on redemptions, the redemption rates aren’t as favourable as others within Alaska Mileage Plan or with other loyalty programs that are more accessible to Canadians.
In regard to the high redemption rates, one only needs to refer to the redemption rates with Alaska’s more highly-regarded partners for a more favourable use of Alaska miles.
For 70,000 Alaska miles, which would neither get you to Europe with Iberia nor to Africa with Royal Air Maroc in any class, you could fly in First Class from North America to Asia with either Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines.
Not only would you be saving miles, but you’d also be treated to spectacular ground and in-flight experiences.
If your destination is in Africa, consider flying via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. Instead of parting with 100,000 miles, as you would with Royal Air Maroc, you’d only spend 62,250 miles in business class or 70,000 miles with a First Class leg.
To complicate matters, Alaska miles are relatively difficult to come by in Canada. The main methods for earning are either by welcome bonuses on MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCards or by transferring points from Marriott Bonvoy.
Using other loyalty currencies that are easier to accumulate in Canada, such as Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, or American Airlines AAdvantage, may provide more favourable rates to access similar destinations served by Royal Air Maroc and Iberia.
Iberia to Europe
As Iberia doesn’t currently operate any direct flights to Canada, redeeming Alaska miles for flights with may not be particularly attractive for Canadians. Unless your final destination is Madrid, getting from Canada to any other destination within their network would require at least two flights.
During regular operations, Air Canada flies seasonal routes to Madrid and Barcelona from its hubs in Toronto and Montreal.
A direct flight from either of these cities would fall under the first distance band on Aeroplan’s Flight Reward Chart between the North American and Atlantic regions. Flying from most Canadian cities west of Toronto would bump the distance up to the second band, as would flying via Madrid to other European cities.
As these routes are subject to Aeroplan’s dynamic pricing with Air Canada flights, let’s contrast the convenience of a direct flight with the potential savings you’d receive if flying for a fixed price with a partner airline.
Recall that a one-way flight from North America to Europe with Iberia would cost 35,000 Alaska miles in economy or 75,000 Alaska miles in business class.
In this example, the cost in economy is similar between Air Canada, TAP, and Iberia. Iberia would have the lowest taxes and fees at US$19, which are the least by far.
When flying in business class, Air Canada’s dynamic price skyrockets to over 177,000 Aeroplan points, while TAP prices at 60,000 points. Iberia falls in the middle at 75,000 Alaska miles.
In this case, for a business class redemption, I’d either be inclined to adopt the “Latitude Attitude” and use eUpgrades to fly with Air Canada, or to book with TAP via Lisbon at a fixed price. Perhaps I’d also add a stopover in Portugal, too. I’d save my Alaska miles for a higher-value redemption.
Royal Air Maroc to Morocco
For example, Air Canada also operates a direct flight between Montreal and Casablanca. Let’s compare the costs using Aeroplan and Alaska Mileage Plan on this route.
Flying in business class with Royal Air Maroc costs 100,000 Alaska miles:
Meanwhile, flying with Air Canada in business class costs 58,600 Aeroplan points:
Booking on the direct flight between Montreal and Casablanca on Aeroplan is substantially less costly than booking with Royal Air Maroc on Alaska Mileage Plan. If you were to use the Economy Latitude plus eUpgrades combination, the price would drop down to 48,000 Aeroplan points plus 11 eUpgrade credits in this example.
Even if dynamic pricing on Air Canada were to skew the cost upward, routing through Lisbon with TAP would result in a similar, fixed cost of 60,000 Aeroplan points to get to Casablanca. So, even if an extra connection is required, it is still possible to eke out savings to Morocco with Aeroplan.
When booked on American Airlines AAdvantage, the direct flight on Royal Air Maroc between Montreal and Casablanca costs 30,000 miles in economy or 57,500 miles in business class, resulting in substantial savings as compared to booking with Alaska.
With this in mind, I’d either use AAdvantage miles or Aeroplan points rather than Alaska miles.
Royal Air Maroc to Africa
Lastly, as Royal Air Maroc operates flights to destinations in Africa, let’s take a look at if redeeming on those routes changes the value proposition at all.
For this example, I’ve chosen Accra, Ghana as a destination, as it is possible to fly there with a single connection with both Aeroplan and Alaska Mileage Plan. I’ve also chosen business class as my cabin of choice.
Depending on the routing you take, using Aeroplan could cost anywhere from 70,000–100,000 Aeroplan points. Routing via Washington, Brussels, or Cairo gives three different values.
Using Alaska Mileage Plan to book Royal Air Maroc results in a cost of 100,000 miles plus US$96 in taxes and fees.
While the cost in Aeroplan points and Alaska miles is similar depending on the route taken, Aeroplan offers more opportunities to access West Africa at a lower premium.
Paired with the relative ease of accumulating Aeroplan points in Canada, I would certainly opt to save my Alaska miles for a redemption with more favourable pricing.
Alaska Mileage Plan has added Iberia and Royal Air Maroc as redemption partners, adding some diversity to the loyalty program offering.
While having more options is never a bad thing, unfortunately, neither airline offers a particularly compelling reason for Canadians to book. As demonstrated, the same or similar flights may be booked at a lower cost using other programs, such as Aeroplan or American Airlines AAdvantage.
Further, redeeming valuable Alaska miles with other partners, such as Cathay Pacific First Class or Japan Airlines First Class, results in a more advantageous use. As Alaska Airlines continues to add new redemption partners, we can only hope that the award charts for its longstanding partners remain the same.