Alaska Airlines Mystery Bonus On Purchased Miles – What Did You Get?

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It’s always nice to see a little bit of variation to the usually mundane “buy points with a bonus” offers that come out every month and Alaska is doing its bit to help. Alaska Airlines is offering a mystery bonus to anyone who buys Mileage Plan miles through 29 September 2016.

Alaska Airlines Mystery Bonus – Rules

Let’s get the boring bits and the things you need to know out of the way first:

  • Mileage Plan accounts must have been active for at least 10 days to participate in this promotion.
  • Promotion runs until 29 September 2016
  • The bonuses available range from 35% to 50% depending on what individuals were targeted for.

Buy Alaska Miles

  • All purchases of Mileage Plan Miles are processed by so there are no credit card category bonuses to be had with this deal.
  • Miles must be purchased in increments of 1,000.
  • No limit to how many miles you can buy in Alaska Mileage Plan promotions (I’ll explain more later).

Buy Alaska Mileage Plan Miles For Under 2 Cents Each

Apart from the mystery bonus bit this promotion is just like most other “buy miles” promotions in that the offer is tiered – you get a higher bonus the more miles you buy.

The tiering is the same regardless of the bonus you’ve been targeted for – it’s just the bonus that varies. If you were targeted for the 50% bonus this is what your offer will look like.

  • Buy 0 – 9,000 Mileage Plan Miles – Get a 0% Bonus
  • Buy 10,000 – 19,000 Mileage Plan Miles – Get a 25% Bonus
  • Buy 20,000 – 39,000 Mileage Plan Miles – Get a 35% Bonus
  • Buy 40,000 – 60,000 Mileage Plan Miles – Get a 50% Bonus

buy-alaska-mileage-plan-milesMy mystery bonus from Alaska Mileage Plan

And all of that translates to the following cost per mile:

  • Buy 0 – 9,000 Mileage Plan Miles – 2.96 cents per mile
  • Buy 10,000 – 19,000 Mileage Plan Miles – 2.37 cents per mile
  • Buy 20,000 – 39,000 Mileage Plan Miles – 2.19 cents per mile
  • Buy 40,000 – 60,000 Mileage Plan Miles – 1.97 cents per mile

Find out what bonus you were targeted for via this link.

If you were targeted for the 35% bonus the cheapest rate you’ll get is 2.19 cents per mile and if you were targeted for the 40% bonus (as I was) the best rate you’ll get is 2.11 cents per mile.

Where Can You Go With Alaska Mileage Plan Miles?

Alaska Mileage Plan has one nice little quirk to it in that it doesn’t impose a limit on how many miles you can purchase in its promotion or in a calendar year….so you could just go nuts!

What this means is that you could, essentially, find the awards you’d like to book and then buy every-single-mile you need to book them by putting though multiple transactions. I’m not suggesting this is what you do….just saying that this is possible.

Alaska Airlines isn’t part of an alliance but it does have a number of interesting partners on which award flights can be booked. Examples are…..

  • Cathay Pacific
  • Korean Air
  • Qantas
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Emirates (only for flights to/from the US)

…so Alaska Mileage Plan should definitely be of interest to any serious miles/points enthusiast.

If you want to take a look at the Mileage Plan award charts then you can access them via this link but here are a few examples of what various premium cabin round trip awards cost with Alaska Mileage Plan:

Business Class Awards

  • American Airlines: USA – Europe = 100,000 miles
  • American Airlines: USA – South America = 60,000 – 100,000 miles
  • Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = 100,000 miles
  • Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = 85,000 miles
  • Emirates: USA – Middle East = 165,000 miles
  • Korean Air: USA – Asia = 105,000 – 120,000 miles
  • Qantas: USA – Australia = 110,000 miles

Emirates-Business-Class-A380Emirates Business Class on the A380

First Class Awards

  • American Airlines: USA – Europe = 125,000 miles
  • American Airlines: USA – South America = 80,000 – 125,000 miles
  • Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = 140,000 miles
  • Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = 120,000 miles
  • Qantas: USA – Australia = 140,000 miles

There are some truly excellent redemptions in those lists. The keen-eyed amongst you will have spotted that you can use Mileage Plan miles to book awards on American Airlines at the rates that American Airlines used to offer before the AAdvantage devaluations.

Should You Buy Alaska Miles?

As always it always comes down to the math.

If you were lucky enough to get the 50% bonus offer then you can essentially buy as many miles as you like at 1.97 cents each, With that pricing this is how much some of the award I mentioned above would cost (excluding taxes & fees):

Business Class Award Costs

  • American Airlines: USA – Europe = $1,970
  • Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = $1,970
  • Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $1,675
  • Emirates: USA – Middle East = $3,251
  • Korean Air: USA – Asia = $2,069 – $2,364
  • Qantas: USA – Australia = $2,167

korean air business classKorean Air Business Class

The American Airlines fare may look tempting (and it’s not terrible) but, with a bit of flexibility with when you book and what dates you can fly, it’s possible to get far cheaper Business Class fares to Europe.

The Cathay Pacific fares are very good indeed (especially the Europe – Asia award). Cathay is a true premium airline and those are very good fares for their Business Class product – I’ve never seen Cathay Business Class at that price from Europe to Asia so I’d definitely buy Alaska miles to try that out.

The Emirates fare is absolutely terrible and definitely not worth it. I know there’s a lot of hype around the great product on Emirates but that’s still way too much to pay for an award.

First Class Awards

The pick for me are again the Cathay awards which would cost (excluding taxes and fees):

Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = $2,758
Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $2,364

cathay-pacific-first-classCathay Pacific First Class

Those are pretty fantastic fares for a truly excellent First Class product and well worth buying miles for.

I can’t imagine paying for American Airlines First Class and, while the Qantas First Class option to Australia for $2,758 (+ taxes and fees) looks very good indeed, the lack of award availability means that I wouldn’t be interested unless I knew there was an award available that I could book then and there.

Bottom Line

I don’t often say this in a “buy miles” promotion but I can definitely see value here if you were targeted for the 50% bonus.

If, like me, you go the 40% bonus (meaning that your miles will cost at least 2.11 cents each) then the value proposition isn’t that obvious (although Cathay Pacific Europe – Asia still looks good) and I may be tempted to hold off. This isn’t the first 50% offer Alaska has run (they last one was only back in June) so, if you’re in no particular hurry to book, it may be worth waiting to see if you get targeted for a better offer next time.


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