Today a reader contacted us asking about a common problem with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan that concerns award redemptions on partners with a connection segment not being bookable.
Alaska has had this problem for a long time and while its award chart has some real sweet spots, the practical aspect can be quite the opposite and source for many headaches.
Mileage Plan still imposes routing and carrier restrictions on its awards, even after the most recently published comprehensive award charts:
Combining different airlines is still not possible in many cases, and some airlines are still not bookable on all of their routes but that isn’t even the problem one of our readers has.
Here is his email:
For the last few years, I earned almost 300k Alaska miles by signing up for credit cards ad transferring hotel points. I’m not ready to book a flight for myself and my wife but can’t seem to find any availability no matter for what destination.
We’re planning to go to Thailand and Vietnam and the most reasonable way is from NA through Tokyo or Hong Kong. Long-range flights on Japan Airlines are available and so are the connections but only when searched separately, never in the same search. I don’t have enough miles to book this separately. At this point we don’t even care anymore where in South Eat Asia we fly, worst case we stay there for a few days and then buy a cheap ticket to travel onward. Suggestions?
Well, it’s always good to be flexible like this, and it definitely helps to keep one’s options open, but that doesn’t explain the root cause of the problem.
The reader didn’t specify from where in North America he wants to fly from but the underlying issue is either a technical fault with Alaska Airlines website or a some married segment requirement. Married Segment is synonymous for two segments booked in combination, but in this case, it seems to be reversed, namely that the reader would like to book it all together but can only find it separately.
Here is an example:
Alaska shows nothing when searching for the entire routing but when you put in each route individually then you’re able to book it. As two separate tickets though.
There is one way around this, you can book the main route (the most important one) first and then call Alaska to request to add another segment. This also works when the website doesn’t display the correct class of service on a through ticket but when you search separately it has everything available.
This happened to me last year when I booked Bangkok-Tokyo-Los Angeles:
It might now always be the most convenient option to having to call the airline and wait long times on the phone to get something like this resolved, but at some point, you gotta pick your poison as they say.
You will be charged with the additional amount of taxes and miles (if any) and the ticket will be reissued.
I find Alaska Airlines to have some of the more pleasant and knowledgeable agents to talk to so it isn’t as bad as calling some of the other carriers.
One of our readers contacted us to receive advice on how to proceed with an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan award booking on partner airlines. The website is acting up for him and he doesn’t seem to get any results that would allow him to book his ticket in one itinerary. I suggest that he calls Alaska Airlines in this instance, especially as he can see both segments being available when booked individually. When that happenes to you, take down that information (times and flight numbers) and give it to the agent.
The reader should be able to piece together his desired itinerary that way. What the website shows isn’t always what can actually be booked on the phone, and agents usually have the power to manually fix things that the website doesn’t show. This doesn’t just go for Alaska Mileage Plan but most other frequent flyer programs as well, with one of the exceptions being Avianca LifeMiles which is absolutely horrible.