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Alaska Air Adds Icelandair to Its Mileage Program

With apologies to American, Alaska Airlines really is something special in the air: a regional airline with a global footprint.

In particular, through its partnerships with a host of larger carriers, Alaska has built its Mileage Plan loyalty program into a scheme whose breadth and depth come close to equaling those of American, Delta, and United.

And it just keeps getting better.

Beginning on October 1, Mileage Plan members can begin earning miles for Icelandair flights. And later this year, Mileage Plan members will be able to redeem their miles for award flights on Icelandair as well.

To promote the new tie-up, all earned miles will be doubled through December 15.

There is a weak spot in the frequent-flyer tie-up: meager earning rates when flying on Icelandair in discounted coach. Tickets for travel in T, V, H, L, S, or O classes of service earn 50 percent of the actual flown miles; and N, U, or P tickets earn just 25 percent of flown miles.

On a positive note, all miles earned for Icelandair flights count toward Mileage Plan elite status.

Also beginning October 1, Alaska MVP Gold and Gold 75K members will get free access to Icelandair’s Saga Lounge at Reykjavik airport, the airline’s main hub.

And further linking the two carriers’ operations, a new codeshare agreement will take effect on November 1, providing for seamless reservations and ticketing, one-stop check-in, bags checked to their final destination, and coordinated flight schedules.

With the addition on Icelandair, Mileage Plan will boast sixteen airline partners: Air France, Aeromexico, American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Hainan, Icelandair, Korean Air, KLM, Lan, PenAir, Qantas, Ravn. That’s a lot of earning and redemption opportunities.

It’s also worth noting that Mileage Plan is one of the very few remaining U.S.-based programs that still awards miles on the basis of miles flown, rather than according to the number of dollars spent to purchase tickets. Mileage-based programs tend to be more rewarding for less frequent travelers, while spend-based programs favor the frequent business traveler.

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