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Alaska’s Mileage Plan program has launched a new mileage sale in which it’s offering members the chance to buy miles with a bonus of up to 50% thrown in. Unfortunately this is a targeted promotion so not everyone will see the 50% bonus in their accounts – the other offers I’ve seen have all been for bonuses of 40% but there may be yet more variations out there.
The Headline T&Cs
- Transactions must be completed by 11:59 PM PST December 21, 2018 to be eligible for bonus miles.
- Miles are purchased from Points.com Inc. for a cost of $27.50 per 1,000 miles, plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax*, and GST/HST for Canadian residents.
- Miles are non-refundable and do not count toward MVP and MVP/Gold status.
- Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan Program apply.
- Points.com Inc. is collecting Federal Excise Tax on behalf of Alaska Airlines Inc.
- Alaska Airlines Inc. has the obligation to collect Federal Excise Tax and remit the tax to the appropriate government agency.
Buy Alaska Miles With A Bonus Of Up To 50%
Here’s the best offer I’ve seen (yours may be different):
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 39,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 35% bonus
- Buy 40,000 – 60,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 50% bonus
If I was to purchase the full 60,000 miles this is how the math would look:
I would get 90,000 miles at a cost of $1,773.75 which is equivalent to approximately 1.97 cents per mile.
As Mileage Plan doesn’t appear to change the pricing within each band I could purchase any number of miles between 40,000 and 60,000 and I would get the same cost per mile.
Where Can You Go With Alaska Miles?
One of the biggest positives of the Alaska Mileage Plan program is that the airline doesn’t impose a limit on how many miles you can purchase in a single promotion or in a calendar year. Technically you could keep buying miles until you run out of money.
In practice what this means is that you could start out with a zero mileage balance, find the awards you’d like to book, and then buy all the miles you need to book them.
You would have to buy the miles in a series of 60,000 mile transactions but that’s the only limitation.
Although Alaska Airlines is yet to join any of the worldwide alliances it has managed to build up a portfolio of useful partners on which award flights can be booked.
Here are a few examples:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Emirates (only for flights to/from the US)
- Fiji Airways
- Korean Air
That’s a pretty good list and it’s why Alaska Mileage Plan should feature in everyone’s miles/points portfolio….I’ve even written a post explaining why Europeans should be interested despite the fact that Alaska Airlines doesn’t fly anywhere near Europe!
You can access the Mileage Plan award charts via this link if you want to check the prices of whatever awards you’re interested in but, to save you some time, here are a few examples of premium cabin roundtrip awards that you can book with Alaska miles:
Business Class Awards
- Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = 100,000 miles
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = 85,000 miles
- Emirates: USA to the Middle East = 165,000 miles
- Korean Air: USA to Asia = 105,000 – 120,000 miles (depends on the country in Asia)
- LATAM: USA to South America = 90,000 miles
- Qantas: USA to Australia = 110,000 miles
First Class Awards
- Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = 140,000 miles
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = 120,000 miles
- Qantas: USA to Australia = 140,000 miles
You may have noticed that I haven’t bothered quoting the number of miles needed for travel on American Airlines. This is because it’s easier to find a Democrat at a Trump rally than it is to find premium cabin saver awards on American Airlines nowadays so I don’t want to give the impression that you can by Alaska Miles and book American Airlines awards with ease.
While all of the redemptions I’ve listed above are pretty good some of them are nothing short of fantastic.
Is It Worth Buying Alaska Miles In This Promotion?
As I always say, it comes down to the math.
Here’s how much some of the awards I mentioned above would cost (excluding taxes & fees) if you were to buy all the miles you need in this promotion :
Business Class Award Costs
- 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
- LATAM: USA – South America = $1,773
- Qantas: USA – Australia = $2,167
The Cathay Pacific fares are very good indeed (especially the Europe – Asia award) but be aware that Alaska doesn’t always have access to all the award seats that you may see when searching on sites like BA.com – it’s always worth calling up to check availability before buying miles for an award you’ve found online.
First Class Awards
Once again the pick of the crop are the Cathay Pacific awards which, excluding taxes and fees, would cost:
Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = $2,758
Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $2,364
Those are amazing fares for a truly excellent First Class product and well worth buying miles for (I’ve reviewed Cathay’s First Class product between Zurich and Hong Kong and (spoiler alert!) I loved it).
Although Qantas First Class to Australia for $2,758 (+ taxes and fees) looks good, there’s a definite lack of award availability so I wouldn’t buy miles unless I knew there was an award available that I could book right away.
Clearly the bonus you’ve been targeted for will go a long way to determining just how good of a deal this for you but those targeted for the 50% bonus have some fantastic deals open to them (even at a 40% bonus some of the deals are pretty good).
As always I don’t suggest you buy miles speculatively as you never know when a loyalty program will choose to alter the award charts or change the rules unfavourably so stockpiling points is a truly bad idea.
Do your research, find awards that work for you and the buy the points you need – it’s hard for you to get burned that way.