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Alaska MileagePlan has launched a flash sale on its currency in which it’s offering bonuses of up to 40% on purchases of 10,000+ miles through 22 September 2019.
All the accounts I control have a maximum bonus of 40% showing and I haven’t seen, heard or read of anyone seeing a different maximum bonus in their account so it’s probably safe to assume that this isn’t a targeted promotion.
The Alaska Flash Sale
Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles and get a 20% bonus
Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles and get a 30% bonus
Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles and get a 40% bonus
The Terms & Conditions
- Transactions must be completed between 12:00 AM PST September 15, 2019 and 11:59 PM PST September 22, 2019 to be eligible to receive up to 40% 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.
- You may purchase and gift Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in increments of 1,000 miles to a maximum of 60,000 miles per transaction.
- Your Mileage Plan account may be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you.
- MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted through Points.com.
- 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
Also important to know: Alaska’s limit of 150,000 miles per year for customers who do not hold status with the airline includes any bonus points earned.
How Much Are You Paying for Miles?
Because Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t play around with the cost of miles within each bonus band there are just four price points at which miles are being sold in this promotion.
To buy miles at the cheapest rate you’ll need to buy at least 40,000 miles and secure the 40% bonus.
Buying the maximum number of miles you can buy in a single transaction (60,000) would see you paying $1,773.75 for a net total of 84,000 miles…
…and this equates to a cost per mile of ~2.11 cents.
Here’s how much it would cost to buy miles in the lower bonus bands:
Buy 1,000 – 9,000 miles at ~2.96 cents/mile
Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles at ~2.46 cents/mile
Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles at ~2.27 cents/mile
It’s worth noting that Alaska was selling its miles with a 50% bonus (the best offer we usually see) though 30 August 2019 and that values the miles at ~1.97 cents each.
What Can You Do With Alaska Miles?
The best value uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles generally come through international bookings made on partner airlines (although miles can also come in useful if you’re looking to book flights between the mainland and Hawaii).
Here are a few examples of Alaska’s airline partners:
- 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.
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
- Korean Air: USA to Asia = 105,000 – 120,000 miles (depends on the country in Asia)
- LAN: 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
- JAL: USA to Asia from 140,000 miles
- Qantas: USA to Australia = 140,000 miles
Note: Taxes and surcharges will need to be factored in but, in most cases, they’re not significant.
Importantly, Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on award tickets and that’s part of what makes these redemptions very attractive indeed.
You may have noticed that although I listed American Airlines as an Alaska Mileage Plan partner I haven’t quoted the price for any of its awards…and there’s a good reason for that.
While booking American Airlines premium cabin awards is technically possible (and would be a very good option on routes like Europe to Hawaii ) award availability is so dire that it’s hard to suggest that Alaska miles would be useful in booking them – it doesn’t matter how many Alaska miles you have if you can’t find American Airlines awards to book!
Still, all of the redemptions I’ve listed above are pretty good and some of them can be nothing short of fantastic.
Is It Worth Buying Alaska Miles In This Promotion?
As I always say, it comes down to 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 = $2,110
- Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $1,975
- Korean Air: USA – Asia = $2,215 – $2,535
- LATAM: USA – South America = $1,899
- Qantas: USA – Australia = $2,320
First Class Awards
- Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = $2,955
- Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $2,535
- JAL: USA to Asia from $2,944
- Qantas: USA to Australia $2,955
There are a number of very good deals here but the Cathay Pacific Business and First Class awards are particularly good value (especially the Europe – Asia awards).
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 and, even though American Airlines has now started showing Cathay Pacific award availability online, the results presented aren’t always reliable so it’s always worth calling up to check availability before buying miles for an award you’ve found online.
I should also point out that although Qantas First Class to Australia for $2,955 (+ taxes and fees) looks fantastic, there’s a definite lack of award availability so I wouldn’t buy miles with a view to booking this award unless I knew for sure that there was an award available that I could book right away.
With a 40% bonus on offer this is the second-best sale that we generally see Alaska publish…but it’s still a pretty good deal.
As always I don’t think you should be buying miles speculatively as you never know when a loyalty program will choose to alter the award charts or change the rules unfavorably, so stockpiling points is a truly bad idea.
Do your research, find awards that work for you, do the math and then buy the points you need – it’s hard for you to get burned that way.