Because it’s cheap.
Especially if you use the Alaska companion fare.
Flying with the Alaska companion fare
Why fly Alaska Airlines to Mexico?
Flying Alaska from the U.S.
If you’re flying from the U.S. to Mexico on Alaska Airlines, it’s easy peasy.
From Seattle, L.A. and San Francisco, for example, there are many direct flights to Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun (your gateway to the Riviera Maya).
Flying Alaska from Canada
Flying on Alaska Airlines from Canada is another story.
We have to fly through the U.S. with a layover and plane change, typically in Seattle.
And the schedule is ugly.
We usually have to drag ourselves out of bed at 2:30 am to catch a 6:00 am flight to get there.
After our Baja time in sunny Cabo – on the return home – we’re lucky if our flight touches down at the Victoria airport before midnight (meaning we’re not home till the middle of the night).
Flying through the States is somewhat of an extra hassle too for us Canadians.
But, without a discount, we’d pay just under $600 USD each. Not bad.
Now WestJet is much more convenient for us Canadians. It offers direct non-stop flights from Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, depending on the day of the week. That means we wouldn’t have to stop in the U.S. and go through U.S. customs. And the flight departure hours are much more civilized.
Indeed, we’ve flown WestJet to Mexico – and it’s a great way to go. But it costs us much more. For a high season booking in winter, we’ve paid up to $900 each for a ticket. Ouch!
Note: All dollar values cited here are USD.
What is the Alaska Airlines companion fare?
Aaah, but we’re savvy travelers who like saving money.
We want a discount.
And Alaska Airlines has this nifty program.
We learned about it several years ago on one of our flights. (The flight attendants usually sweetly announce it around the time they start selling duty free goods onboard).
If you get an Alaska Airlines credit card, your companion flies for a base fare starting at $99 (plus taxes and fees, so really $122).
Now the annual credit card fee is $95.
But even factoring that in, we can cut our cost down per ticket to about $400 each by using the Alaska Airlines credit card companion fare.
(And, pssst, don’t tell Alaska Airlines or the credit card company this, but we only use this card to buy our flights on Alaska Airlines and occasionally as a spare credit card for traveling.)
It’s just too bad we can only get one of these companion deals a year.
What is the Alaska airlines credit card?
There are two basic types of credit cards that offer Alaska companion fares.
For us Canadians, the Alaska credit card is a Mastercard.
For folks who live in the U.S., it’s a Visa credit card.
Other benefits of the Alaska Airlines companion pass
There are no black-out days. This is a big plus because we often use our Alaska companion pass to fly to Mexico over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday.
The person who has the Alaska card gets a free checked bag for themselves and their companion (up to six other passengers, actually, so your children can also get a free checked bag if flying with you on holiday).
And both you and your companion earn Alaska miles on your tickets.
Conditions of the Alaska Air companion fare
Of course, there are certain conditions associated with the Alaska Airlines companion ticket. They include:
- You can only use the Alaska companion fare on flights operated by Alaska Airlines.
- You and your companion have to book the same itinerary.
- The companion fare is only valid for Economy tickets. (But you can upgrade using miles or paid upgrades).
- The tickets must be paid for with your Alaska card.
- You have to book your travel through the Alaska Airlines website (alaskaair.com).
How to book an Alaska companion ticket?
It’s quite easy to book your Alaska companion fare.
Log into your Alaska Mileage Plan account.
Navigate to the left side and scroll down to where it says “Discount and companion fare codes.” Click “View valid discounts.”
The actual code is a series of letters and numbers that shows up underneath the “Shop” button. (We’ve blurred out our code in the photo above.)
Then click the “Shop” button, which takes you to the booking page to book your flights. It automatically puts a code into the “Discount or companion fare code” box.
How to maximize your Alaska Airlines credit card companion pass
There are a couple of ways to truly leverage the Alaska Airlines companion ticket that comes with credit card.
First, aim for a ticket priced over $200 or so.
Finding a ticket at that price might be somewhat challenging for shorter West Coast journeys. But, if you’re eyeing destinations like Hawaii, you’ll likely find fares that ensure you get more than your money’s worth.
Second, don’t limit yourself to traditional round trips. Do what’s called an open-jaw, where you fly into one city and depart from another. It’s a great way to see more without the hassle of backtracking. And, yes, this approach is eligible for the companion fare.
Third, add a stopover.
For instance, if you’re flying from New York to Seattle, consider a layover in Portland. While there’ll be the regular ticket cost and some extra fees for your companion’s additional flight, it’s a neat way to maximize your journey and stretch the value of that companion benefit.
How to apply for an Alaska credit card
We mentioned that Americans get a Visa card, while Canadians get a Master Card.
There are also 2 types of Alaska Visa cards and 2 types of Alaska Mastercards.
Alaska Visa cards
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card: See here for details and to apply.
- Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card: See here for details and to apply.
- Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard: See this site for details and to apply.
- Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard: See this site for details and to apply.
Now you know why we like the Alaska Airlines buddy pass
So there you have it. We like flying Alaska Airlines so we can get the Alaska Air companion ticket.
$400 or $900 for a plane ticket to Cabo San Lucas?
What would you choose?
Photo credits: 6 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 1, 3, 5 Alaska Airlines
We always pay for our flights on Alaska Airlines like everyone else, and we haven’t received any payment or future discounts from them to write this post (they don’t know who we are). And we don’t receive any payment or commission from the Alaska credit card companies either.