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Alaska Airlines Award Stopover Issues: Trying (and Failing) to Get to Easter Island

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LATAM Alaska Airlines Award

LATAM Alaska Airlines Award Stopover Restrictions

Maximizing award routing and stopover rules is something I love to do. Whether it’s the United Excursionist Perk or dreaming up some complicated around-the-world award using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, this is the stuff I thrive on. Likewise, Alaska Airlines stopovers are something I love to book. And I’ve booked a few. 

I thought I knew the Alaska rules. But it turns out that not everything was as clear as I’d thought. At least with LATAM. I figured I’d share my recent experience. 

Restrictions on Alaska Stopovers: Hub Cities

In general, Alaska requires stopovers to occur in their “hub” cities. They require this for partner airline award flights as well. Flying British Airways? Stop in London for free. Finnair? Stop in Helsinki. Japan Airlines? Tokyo is it. 

This restrictions used to be more relaxed for Alaska flights but were tightened up in recent years. For many partners, you’re essentially restricted to their one hub city. 

However, given that LATAM has multiple hubs in South America, I figured that you’d have multiple options for a stopover. Lima, Santiago, São Paulo, any of them should work. 

Moai Statues on Easter Island

Santiago Stopover on a Visit to Easter Island? I Think Yes.

LATAM flies to Easter Island (Isla de Pascua), a remote destination that is difficult to get to. Located more than 2,000 miles from the coast of Chile, it’s a pretty remote piece of territory for the South American nation. Pretty much the only way to get there is flying LATAM from Santiago (SCL).

Easter island is the home of the famous and mysterious moai statues. I decided to book a trip next year, flying LATAM business class — one of the Alaska award sweet spots — plus adding in a stopover in Santiago. It’d be an amazing value award.

You can easily book Alaska awards with stopovers online. Finding business class award space next spring to Santiago (SCL) was no issue. I found space on a LATAM 787 from LAX to SCL. Space was also available a few days later from SCL to IPC (Easter Island). But when I put the segments together, nothing cam up in the results. It was also odd is that I couldn’t get an award to Easter Island to price out without a stopover. 

This was perplexing. Guess I’d better call Alaska to figure out what the problem is. You used to have to call anyway to book a LATAM Alaska Airlines award, so maybe this is just a search engine hiccup.

Shedding Light on LATAM Alaska Airlines Award Rules

Thankfully, I was quickly connected with a competent Alaska award agent. After validating my account information, I gave her the airport codes and dates of my flights to see if she could book the LATAM award with a stopover. 

Her first attempt was futile. Like my experience online, she couldn’t pull up the award with a stopover.

She said she wasn’t sure stopovers were allowed in Santiago, Chile. This was surprising. The solution was to put me on a brief hold to consult the LATAM Alaska Airlines award rules, which should have a list of cities where stopovers are allowed.

Apparently such a list exists for all Alaska Airlines partners. This was news to me, and good to know. I’d be curious to know which cities are listed for partner airlines that clearly have or potentially have more than one hub (e.g. Qantas, American, JAL).

Her efforts weren’t rewarded. Apparently, unlike other Alaska partners, they don’t have a list for LATAM. Go figure. I argued that Santiago is clearly one of their hubs, as it serves all of Chile as their flag carrier. I should be able to stop in Chile’s capital and continue on to another Chilean airport. This isn’t a stretch of the rules.

Striking Out

Unfortunately, she put me on hold again to consult another agent. She was kind about it, and so far she had been as helpful as could be, short of booking the award. I figured all she needed was to get confirmation that Santiago is indeed a hub.

The answer she offered upon returning took the wind out of my sails. Apparently, you can’t book an award from the U.S. to Easter Island with a stopover. The reason? It’s simply too far for a single award.

Given that Alaska’s terms and conditions don’t include anything about maximum permitted mileage (and I can easily pull up itineraries on Qatar of greater total flight miles), this was frustrating. Part of me thought rules were being made up on the spot. The other part of me wonders if this route is specifically disallowed for some reason.

Ultimately, if I wanted to book an award to Easter Island, I’d have to book two award tickets. This is what the agent told me. A separate SCL-IPC business class award would increase the cost by 35,000 miles. A total of 80,000 Alaska miles is more than I want to pay for this itinerary.

Another option would be to book an award to Santiago, and then use other miles to get to Easter Island. There are better currencies for this nonstop flight than Alaska miles. However, it’s still more miles. 

LATAM A319 at Bogota Airport

Penciling In a Backup Plan

I had a backup plan. I’ve been interested in visiting southern Chile as well. A couple years ago I’d read a magazine article about Puerto Montt and traveling along the mountainous coast of Chilean Patagonia. It sounded fantastic. While I won’t take a boat trek, there’s plenty of natural beauty in the Andes just outside the city.

Booking this LATAM Alaska Airlines award with a stopover in Santiago was incredibly easy online. I should have checked this first before conversing with the Alaska agent. The Alaska search engine definitely treats Santiago as a hub.

It’s unfortunate my original plan to book a trip to Easter Island was foiled. But I’m still happy with the award itinerary I was able to put together. LATAM business class isn’t the finest of products, but it should be a nice flight for 10 hours from Los Angeles to Santiago. It’s one of the longest nonstop flights between the Americas. 

A little more clarity from Alaska on why it isn’t possible to book an award to Easter Island would be helpful. It makes me wonder if there are other oddball rules within their system.

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Ian Snyder
Ian Snyder
After igniting his passion for award travel while planning his honeymoon, Ian now enjoys using points and miles to see the world with his wife and three internationally adopted kiddos. He loves dissecting loyalty programs to find maximum value. His goal is to demonstrate that extraordinary travel is possible for the ordinary family.

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  1. Alaska has gone to the dogs I used to love them.
    They have tons of coach space on the flights and restrict availability to the worst available flights at inconvenient times
    Notice how overpriced many of their domestic awards have become?
    One world partner availability is there but they cant see them and they refuse to call the partner desk or escalate forcing me to book at American.At least at American I can add almost any OW partner I want.I’m done with Alaska after a half decade with them
    @ 38000 flown flight miles they dropped me to their bottom tier last year.No hard feelings Ive moved on and will only cash out my miles on INT partner awards

    • Availability has worsened the past couple years. I’ve not been as happy with what I’ve found on their own metal, either. I think partner availability overall has still been in a massive flux as many airlines are still scrambling to add capacity.

  2. I remember sometimes during the pandemic, the Alaska Airlines added the SCL-IPC route to the award chart for LATAM. I remember seeing it being priced at 35,000 miles in business class for that route.

  3. If you decide to fly to IPC and you’re not adverse to doing it on revenue, you can book a biz seat at the price of economy typically by booking in Chile. VPN in if you’re outside of the Chile. Worked well for me.

  4. At least you had an agent that would say something more than the “computer says it doesn’t work.” I’m a 100k on AS and they won’t let me speak to the “partner desk,” even during IRROPS on a partner award ticket, and the agents I get are literally clueless. It’s bad. So unless you can book the award yourself online don’t even bother calling in. It’s sad and such terrible customer service.

    • I’ve had generally good experiences with Alaska agents. I’m glad she explained where she was looking for info and what she was trying to do through the process. Helps much more than “computer say no” response.

  5. The Alaska Airlines mileage program is imploding. Possibly due to the Virgin merger and Covid, Alaska took its eyes off of the plan. And sharpies in SE Asia and other placds stepped in to exploit sweet spots. Many of which involved partner award stop overs.

    So Alaska responded with a bunch of policy changes which were poorly communicated and involved even more poorly supported technology. No one knows how things are “supposed” to work or how to work it thru a system that was never intended to handle such complexity.

    For now there still are uses for Alaska miles. But the writing is on the wall. And liquidating my miles is top of my to do list.

    They are playing a game of catch-up on award scheme problems. And losing. At some point they will need to massively restrict or devalue just to defibrillator the program.

    So sad.

    • I am worried the program is going to lose the bulk of its value. It’s long been my favorite. The new combined award chart does not bode well.

    • I checked other routes and realized that can’t be the reason. There’s no MPM. They just seem to have it hard-coded to where you can’t add IPC onto an itinerary from the U.S.

  6. I’ve gone through that process too. Their rules for LATAM on what awards are available were on the old website and it seems like that isn’t available on the current version. Back then, their agreement with LATAM was to have separate awards from mainland South America and separate to Easter Island. I don’t think its to do with length, but just the partnership rules that developed related to awards. So it’s been separate for quite awhile that Easter Island was just a different zone/region for Alaska.

    • It’s odd to me. But I get it. It’s like West Coast to Hawaii.

      I’d at least appreciate it being treated as its own region. Even if it cost, say, 60,000 miles one-way from the U.S., I would have paid that.


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