Using Korean Air to Fly From Chicago to Anchorage

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I posted an article on ways to use Korean Air miles – but how can I make this work for me?  Hawaiian doesn’t fly out of my local city.  How about getting to Alaska though?  I’m flying out of O’Hare so let’s see how I can actually get to Anchorage. Some flights from Alaska’s site.

Worth noting – 20k flights easy enough to find.  Cheaper are the 12.5k.  Refundable is 30k – not sure exactly what that means since typically points flights are refundable anyway, as they still seem to be per Alaska’s terms here.   Also useful are Alaska’s stopover rules here, which allow for 2 stopovers on a domestic ticket or 1 stopover on a one-way – both tickets of which require a call center booking, $15 per the prior link.  It seems to imply a single stopover on a round trip is bookable online; I didn’t try to piece one together.  These rules only apply on Alaska Airlines metal.  Let’s take a look at our options then.  Hipmunk pricegraph shows the cheapest ORD-AND round trip over the next 90 days to be $499.  I picked a close week so google flights is showing large costs; $844 for the cheapest closest (and more painful) itinerary.  To be more fair I’ll make calculations off a $499 ticket.

Cheapest (partner) flight and all Alaska popping through two cities on Alaska:

Note that the latter option would allow both a free stop in Seattle and Portland.  Korean Air notes state only 1 stopover – so perhaps that is a misstatement or perhaps that is all Korean can book.  I’m going to assume the same partner fee for a Korean Air redemption, and my calculations come out as follows:

Program Flights Points Cost Stops Price Compare cents per mile
Alaska Partners 25000 $36.20 0 $499 1.8512
Alaska Alaska 40000 $11.20 0 $499 1.2195
Alaska Alaska 40000 $26.20 2 $499 1.182
Korean Alaska 20000 $36.20 1 $499 2.314

I went lazy on the price compare, as the reality is the stops will add costs, however in a quick search with one stop (Seattle) far out (2 months) I was able to cherry pick the cheapest flight which only hit $513 (on Alaska).  So not bed if the flexible is schedule and some days can be cherry picked – something we need to do with miles anyway, although I think we generally have better options with miles and I got lucky finding a very low priced ticket here.  So what can we conclude?

Korean on Alaska is a clear value winner here – for only 20k miles I can book a trip to stop in Seattle or Portland if I want, as well as go to Anchorage.  Best value redemption for sure.  Note again they are a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  What about after that?  The question will be whether one wants to stop or not.  Flying Alaska with partner combos is a good redemption on the cheap if schedule is flexible, if I simply want to get to Anchorage.  However if I want to stop at one or two places on the way – that Alaska flies – then I should look for an all Alaska itinerary (and ideally book it via Korean).

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