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Alaska’s Mileage Plan program has been running an excellent mileage sale (for some) since last month but time has nearly run out to make the most of it. The sale, which offers targeted Mileage Plan members the chance to buy miles with a 40% – 50% bonus, ends tomorrow so, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to decide if you need any more miles.
Alaska’s Mileage Sale – Headline T&Cs
- Transactions must be completed by 11:59 PM PST December 21, 2018 to be eligible for bonus miles.
- Miles are sold by Points.com 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.
Here’s What The 50% Targeted Offer Looks Like In My Account
- 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
Buying 60,000 miles in this promotion would cost $1,773.75…..
…and the purchaser would net 90,000 miles after the bonus is applied.
90,000 miles at a cost of $1,773.75 is equivalent to approximately 1.97 cents per mile.
As Mileage Plan doesn’t alter the pricing within each band you can buy any number of miles between 40,000 and 60,000 and achieve the same cost per mile.
How Can Alaska Miles Be Used?
A hugely positive aspect of the Alaska Mileage Plan program is that there isn’t 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 can start out with no miles whatsoever, find an award you like, and then buy all the miles you need to book it.
The miles would have to be purchased in batches or 60,000 (90,000 including the bonus) but that’s the only limitation.
Alaska Airlines is not a member of any of the worldwide alliances but it has managed to build up a portfolio of very interesting partners on whose flights awards 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 I’m always saying that Alaska Mileage Plan mile should feature in everyone’s miles/points portfolio….I’ve even said that European based travelers should seriously consider incorporating Mileage Plan miles into their travels and that’s 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 the 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
Those of you who have been paying particularly close attention will probably have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the number of miles needed for travel on American Airlines….and there’s a very good reason for that.
It can be easier to find a vegan working at an abattoir 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 – you can’t.
It’s definitely possible to redeem Mileage Plan miles for travel on American Airlines (and the redemption rates can be pretty good) but the fact that it’s so difficult to find American Airlines premium cabin saver awards means that we can’t seriously consider this as an option at this point in time.
Still, while that may be a negative aspect here, the positive aspect is the fact that most of the redemptions I’ve listed out above are pretty good value and a few of them are amazing!
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 mentioned above would cost (excluding taxes & fees)assuming someone was to buy all the miles needed 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 real lack of award availability so I wouldn’t advise buying any miles unless you can see that there awards available that you can 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 anyone targeted for the 50% bonus has some fantastic deals open to them (even at a 40% bonus some of the deals are pretty good – do the math and see for yourself).
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 – that’s a good way to minimise the risks.