Alaska Airlines is a favorite of many travelers — particularly those on the West Coast. If you’re looking at heading to Mexico, the Seattle-based airline is a great option. But Alaska-loyal travelers who aren’t based in the west aren’t out of luck either. You can use Alaska Mileage Plan miles to fly with Alaska’s Oneworld alliance partner American Airlines.
Here’s a look at where Alaska flies in Mexico, how to book flights and what you need to know before you depart.
Where Alaska flies in Mexico
Alaska Airlines currently flies to eight destinations in Mexico:
Fly nonstop to Mexico
Alaska is primarily a West Coast airline, so you’ll need to fly from one of its hubs or focus cities to get a nonstop flight. Alaska operates nonstop flights to Mexico from six airports:
If you don’t live near one of these six airports, you have the option of connecting through one of them to get to your destination. For example, you can fly from Salt Lake City to San Jose del Cabo through Los Angeles.
From Cancun to Zihuatanejo, Alaska serves a wide range of destinations in Mexico, but not every route gets equal treatment. Here’s what you need to know about finding availability on Alaska flights to Mexico.
On popular routes, many of Alaska’s flights to Mexico depart frequently. For instance, you can fly daily to San Jose del Cabo from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
However, other routes to San Jose del Cabo operate once a week — such as the nonstop flight from Portland. Depending on your departure city and destination, you may need some schedule flexibility to take a nonstop Alaska flight to Mexico.
Some Mexican destinations are available from certain U.S. airports only. For example, Alaska operates flights to the coastal resort town of Manzanillo from Los Angeles only.
During the summer, Alaska operates two flights per week on this route. In the fall, one flight per week is offered. During these slower periods, you’d either need to spend an entire week in Manzanillo or find another airline to fly you home.
Booking Alaska flights to Mexico
Alaska airfares to Mexico vary based on the season, demand and route. Especially for leisure destinations, having flexibility can save you quite a bit of money.
For instance, flights from San Francisco to San Jose del Cabo cost over $300 one way on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, when we priced it out for this article. However, you can fly out a few days later on Tuesday, Aug. 16, for about half the cost.
Award chart pricing
Unlike most other U.S. airlines, Alaska’s Mileage Plan hasn’t completely abandoned its award chart. With that said, it has implemented a variable pricing element for award flights. Under this hybrid system, the mileage cost for Alaska flights to Mexico varies based on the flight’s distance and demand for the route.
Main cabin fares for trips under 1,400 miles can cost as few as 10,000 Mileage Plan miles each way — or as many as 35,000 miles. Booking a first class award on these same flights ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 miles each way.
Routes from 1,401 to 2,100 miles start at 15,000 miles each way in economy or 30,000 miles in first class. For flights longer than 2,101 miles — such as Seattle to Cancun — Alaska award rates vary between 17,500 to 50,000 miles in economy and 30,000 to 95,000 miles in first class.
While mileage costs on Alaska flights are variable, on American Airlines flights to Mexico you’ll pay a fixed rate using your Alaska miles:
27,500 miles in first class.
For some routes and cabins, these fixed rates on American can be a better deal than the award rates on Alaska. However, it’s worth checking all options when searching for award flights.
Beware of high taxes and fees on award bookings
When figuring out whether it’s a better deal to use cash or miles, make sure to factor in the taxes and fees that can be assessed on many routes to Mexico. For example, you can book award flights from Los Angeles to San Jose del Cabo for 20,000 miles round-trip, but the taxes and fees of over $120 really cut into the value you’re getting from your miles.
Checking in for your Alaska flight to Mexico
It’s important to keep in mind the obvious: Mexico is an international destination. That means check-in times and document requirements are going to be different than flying on Alaska within the U.S.
For all international flights, Alaska requires passengers to check in, get a boarding pass and drop any checked bags no later than 60 minutes before to departure.
If you’re flying home from Guadalajara, you’ll need to head to the airport even sooner. The minimum required check-in time is 90 minutes before departure — even if you’re not checking a bag.
At the time of writing, a visa isn’t required for U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico for tourism, education or business for less than 180 days. However, make sure that you have a valid passport with more than six months of validity past the date of travel.
Earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles with a credit card
Unlike some of its larger competitors, Alaska only offers two co-branded credit cards — one for personal travelers and one for small-business owners.
Here are the current sign-up bonus offers for each of these cards:
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card: Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) and receive 40,000 bonus miles with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card: Get 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
In addition to the sign-up bonus, cardholders will earn 3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases.
If you want to fly Alaska Airlines to Mexico
Alaska currently flies to eight cities in Mexico, making it easy for West Coast travelers to head south. Even if you don’t live near the Pacific Ocean, you can still use your Mileage Plan miles to get there — either by routing through an Alaska hub or booking an award ticket through American.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for: