Using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan purchase miles promotions – how to fly Qantas, Fiji Airways or Cathay Pacific from Australia in Business Class cheaply

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Logo

August seems to be the month of mileage purchase promotions – I wrote about the US Airways deal a couple of days ago, then I sat down to write about the latest American Airlines deal then this surfaced in my inbox and piqued my interest.

About Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

I haven’t written much about Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program before, but it’s one of the most flexible of the US frequent flyer programs out there, given their partnership with both American Airlines and Delta for mileage earn, of course along with, Alaska Airlines themselves who service the West Coast, Hawaii and over to New York as well. If you find yourself flying on a range of carriers in the US, banking your miles to Mileage Plan is a fairly savvy strategy.

The Promotion – up to 40% bonus miles

MileagePlan are now running a promotion with up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles through to the end of September 30th.

Buy 1,000 – 19,000 miles: get a 20% Bonus
Buy 20,000 – 29,000 miles: get a 30% Bonus
Buy 30,000 – 40,000 miles: get a 40% BonusAt the top end, 40,000 miles will yield a 16,000 mile bonus, for a total of 56,000 miles for a total of $1182.50 USD including taxes.

Outside of the airlines mentioned above, the real opportunity for us in Australia and NZ is to redeem Mileage Plan miles for travel on Qantas, Cathay Pacific or Fiji Airways. In full, Mileage Plan partners are:

  • American Airlines
  • Aeromexico
  • Air France
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates
  • Era Alaska
  • Fiji Airways
  • KLM
  • PenAir
  • Qantas

Award chart opportunities from Australia & NZ

The best starting point is the award chart for the South Pacific region on the Alaska website which details the costs for miles use on Qantas, Fiji Airways (previously Air Pacific) and Cathay Pacific. From this page, you can use the navigation on the left hand side to look at costs for other regions too.

Alaska Airlines is a bit spotty at allowing / documenting award redemptions and costs for travel outside of North America. In some cases it’s allowed, in others it’s not. If the award chart doesn’t show your route, or the booking engine does not yield a result, you’ll need to call Alaska via Skype or similar, and try and research or book over the phone.

Opportunities for travel on Qantas

The Qantas award chart looks like this:

Alaska Airlines Qantas Partner Redemption Chart

You’ll note that all Australia and NZ travel is marked at one price – 12.5k miles one way in Economy, 20k miles one way in Business, and return at twice the cost. This makes purchasing miles for longer Business Class class redemptions such as East / West coast hops, or across the Tasman, awesome value.

You could purchase 30,000 miles with a 12,000 mile bonus for enough miles for a return Business Class redemption at a cost of $887 USD.

Opportunities for travel on Cathay Pacific

The Cathay Pacific award chart looks like this:

Alaska Airlines Cathay Pacific Redemption Chart

Alaska do publish mileage costs for travel on Cathay Pacific outside of the US, and you can net a one way Business Class ticket between Australia and Hong Kong for a rather ridiculous 30,000 miles, which can be purchased in the current promotion for ~$710 USD.

A one way Premium Economy ticket routing through Hong Kong to the US comes in at 47.5k miles, which in the current promotion would cost just over $1000 USD.

For your interest, the Fiji Airways award chart is below:

Alaska Airlines Fiji Airways Redemption Chart

The opportunities here aren’t so marked, but you may still consider them if you’re keen to include Fiji on your itinerary.

Taxes and fees

An example of the fees charged for booking a Qantas domestic redemption are below:

Alaska Airlines Qantas taxes example

$24.10 USD isn’t too problematic. Update: I realised I forgot to mention that a $25 fee is payable per person for each award redemption ticket to Alaska as well; I believe this is $12.50 for one way and $25 for return. Again, not going to break the bank.

Research and Booking techniques

You can search Alaska Airlines partner availability on their own website, however some partners require a call to Alaska directly to research and book. Once again, awardnexus.com is my preferred place to research. Having said that, you can usually research award availability with the partner directly, e.g. via Qantas Frequent Flyer, and then use that info to then book with Alaska as it’s generally the same award seat inventory used between the airlines.

You can’t put tickets on hold with Alaska and then purchase the miles and get them ticketed – unlike for US Airways. However miles usually credit very quickly so assuming you have researched availability in advance, have checked with Alaska over the phone, you should be able to go ahead and buy miles and then call up again shortly after to book the ticket (assuming noone else grabs it in the meantime).

Stopovers are generally possible on international redemptions, including for one ways, as noticed by Ben earlier this year. Ben also put a useful general guide to Mileage Plan redemptions on Travelsort which is worth checking out too.

Conclusion

I’m not buying miles to hold and use at a later date with this promotion. However, for tickets I know I want to buy, with specific dates and routes in mind, I am now researching cost and availability through Mileage Plan as this is a great lower cost option for securing Business Class redemptions on a range of familiar carriers.

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Categories: Airline Programs, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, News & Promotions, Points & Miles Guides

  • Jason

    Is there a cap on the amount of points you can buy with bonuses I.e. can I buy 2 x 56k points for ~$2200?

    “I’m not buying miles to hold and use at a later date with this promotion.” Why do you say that?

    • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

      1. Nope, pretty sure you can bank bonuses only up to 40k points – same as US Airways. No reason why you can’t buy points in accounts for yourself and your partner/brother/sister though and make a booking on their behalf.
      2. I’m not a hoarder – If I’m spending $$ on points I want to have a 90% certainty on how I will be using them. That’s just me, I’m a bit risk averse.

      • Jason

        I just signed up for a Mileage Plan account and tried to buy points, but it says my account is ineligible to purchase points. Is there some sort of cooldown period or min points requirement before I can buy points? Very excited by that Qantas award chart… :)

        • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

          I get the same with my reactivated (previously expired) account. Annoying, as I looked into this specifically when writing the post and couldn’t (and still can’t) find anything about a waiting period for accounts before mileage purchases. I would try again in 24 hours, and then again in 12 days, like the US Airways restriction. Both US Airways and Mileage plan purchases are fulfilled through points.com so it may be the same policy.

          • Jason

            Thanks for the info Keith. I’ve also fired off an email to Alaska; will let you know what they say about the account eligibility if they reply. Fingers crossed we can buy points before the promo is over!

          • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

            Also check out Ben’s take – http://boardingarea.com/onemileatatime/2013/08/12/alaska-offering-up-to-a-40-bonus-on-the-purchase-of-mileage-plan-miles-through-september-30-2013/
            He reckons the promo can be stacked for multiple purchases, and others are reporting the error as well in the comments

          • Jason

            As a follow up – no matter what credit card I tried, I would always get payment declined at the last step of the process (annoyingly after they had put a pre-charge hold on my card). Any success Keith?

            I called Alaska multiple times and they told me that I need a US issued credit card in order to buy points, but the optimist in me hopes that this isn’t the case as other people seem to be buying it just fine with Australian cards?

  • Jason

    Hi Keith, thanks for the post, what are the availability during busy season for the awards redemption? Thinking about flying end of the year to HK for two. We currently have enough points via Asia Miles. But this option looks interesting too.

    • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

      Hey Jason – planning on flying with CX? Pretty tricky to assess to be honest, you’ll need to plug in specific dates and look around. Best is to look via Qantas.com and/or the BA website as a starting point – Qantas can sometimes be flakey with CX availability.

  • Esky

    Can I use miles to fly from melbourne to Singapore?

  • atthejump

    I tried this for a flight from SYD to LAX, and it didn’t quite work. The only flights available in business class involve a stopover in Brisbane or Melbourne. And then on closer inspection, it’s only the domestic leg that’s in business; the flight to LAX is in plain old coach. Hardly worth it if you ask me.

    I looked at a variety of dates, and I’m going to call Alaska to see if I’m missing something, but until then, I don’t think this is the best way to get to LAX…

    • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

      SYD-LAX on Qantas is often one of the hardest routes to secure award seats on, trying to redeem with Mileage plan won’t change that. Good luck with the search!

      • atthejump

        Lemonade from lemons and all that…

        After some intense searching and a bit of time on Award Nexus, I found something through Honolulu, and we are turning the stopover into a mini holiday during our bigger holiday!

        I knew this was too good a deal to pass up! Thanks for the tip!

        • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

          Cool! So to Honolulu with Qantas and onward with Alaskan?

          • atthejump

            Yes!

            Though I’m a little sad I didn’t wait a bit longer since today I got an email about Qantas offering double status credits and 4,500 bonus frequent flyer points on Super Saver fares to Hong Kong.

            Could have combined a status run and a Cathay Pacific award trip purchased with Alaska miles!!

            It doesn’t look like the offer is targeted to me after a very quick scan of the email, but I could be wrong. Anyway, FYI!

          • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

            Thanks, I got that email to one account, but not another, on my end. So a targeted offer AFAIK.

  • John

    Thanks for the helpful article :) I activated my Mileage Plan account a few weeks ago and today it is letting me purchase miles. I was just wondering whether you know if the CX awards can be booked beyond HKG? I would be hopeful of flying to TPE, but don’t know if this can be booked through Alaska Air?

    • John

      I should clarify – you can book Classic Awards through to TPE on the QF site (on CX metal) but not sure if Alaska has the same inventory.

      • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

        Inventory, yes I think it all pulls from the same set of seats, but they just price differently to Qantas with their regional based charts.

    • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

      AFAIK, if the award charts on the Alaska website don’t show a mileage cost, you can’t book. So check out the chart for CX and see where it lets you go. It may need two bookings to transit regions if the chart doesn’t specifically give a price between them.

      • John

        Thanks Keith! I went ahead and purchased miles yesterday (last day of the promotion) in lots of 40,000, 40,000 and 7,000. I only received a confirmation for the 7,000 purchase – but it appears to have taken the funds from my credit card for the full lot. I called up my bank and they confirmed that it has gone through, but the confirmation hasn’t come through on Mileage Plus yet.

        Do you think I should call up Alaska Air or give them a few days to process? Anybody else have this experience?

        Thanks in advance!

        • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

          OK, so three seperate transactions? I’d wait 24 hours then call during US daytime if they haven’t posted.

          • John

            Good call – will do! Hope they don’t decline it – because otherwise I’ll have to ask them for a refund of the 7,000 points purchase that did go through.

  • Daniel Nolan

    This promotion is on again until December 20, 2013 except at a slightly less bonus rate of 35%.

    Anyone know how long it takes for the miles purchased through points.com take to show in your Alaska account?

    Nervously waiting to snag myself a SYD-LAX return on QF/DL next year while I can!

    • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

      Hey Daniel – points have arrived now I hope – made your booking?

      • Daniel Nolan

        Yeah got them early this morning (so it took about 2 days for the miles to appear in my Alaska account).

        Fortunately the seats were still available and I’ve now booked SYD-LAX on QF in J (via BNE), BOS-SYD (via DTW & LAX) on DL in P/J for a trip in September next year.

        The only catch was that it didn’t offer a connecting option between LAX and BOS on the outbound so I’ll need to do a revenue booking for that, probably on AA.

        Also I needed to call Alaska in order to snag P on the inbound sectors to LAX, as their website only showed Y awards.

        Still, not bad for US$2500!!

        • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

          Nice one! How many miles?

          • Daniel Nolan

            It was 55k for the outbound and 52.5k for the inbound.

            So I pretty much maxed out the 35% bonus promotion over 2 purchases with a total of 108k miles.

            Seems too good to be true (almost!)

          • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

            Nice one, thanks Daniel. Do you mind if I write up the promotion using your booking as a prime example of how to do it / why it’s great?

          • Daniel Nolan

            For sure, let me know if you need any other details.

          • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

            Just writing this up now btw. Reread your itinerary, before you go making that revenue booking my understanding is that you can get Alaska to tweak your itinerary and add on the extra flight if space opens up. So you may be able to get that LAX-BOS flight if you keep an eye out.

          • Daniel Nolan

            Ah nice one, I didn’t know that. I’ll definitely give them a call.

            I’ve also set up availability alerts on expertflyer.com for QF107 to get across the US in U class. Will see how that goes.

          • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

            Good luck! And thanks for letting me use your example. Real world uses always help people understand a little better.

          • Daniel Nolan

            My pleasure, of course it’s because of sites like yours that I know about these deals so thank you too!

            Btw, just spoke with AS. Unfortunately travel between LAX-BOS can only be on AS — which involves a redeye connection — due to the outbound segments being on QF.

            The agent suggested some alternate itineraries on CX (instead of QF). Giving that some serious thought now!

  • Reg

    For those coming to this post in the future, as of December 2013, the rules on purchasing miles are that you can use the same credit card number up to 4 times during a 30 day period.

    I paid for 2 x Buisness Class seats JFK-CBR for 110,000 points/$3600 incl. taxes. That’s cheaper than 1 QF Business seat!

    I’d definately keep this one in your list of ideas when you fly AUS-US.

    • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

      Nice one Reg. Did you get that info on the purchasing miles 4x with one card from Alaska?

      • Reg

        Yessir I did. I called their MileagePlan 1800 number and confirmed with the operator. Was told it was a recent change.

        • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

          Interesting! Makes it a bit less stackable for the next time they run the promo – 160k miles max per account. Nothing to stop people using this across multiple accounts though, just makes it a touch harder to administer.

          • Reg

            Haven’t tried it, but if you have a supplementary card linked to your account, you could conceivably make 8x purchases – 4x/card/30 days – because they said the same “card number”, not account. I’d call and clarify first before trying it though…

            Appreciate your site and all the information that you post here, it is really eye opening the amount of things that I have missed out on. I’ll be making up for lost time :)

          • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

            Right, will be interesting to see if this is included in some written terms somewhere. As Alaska have control of the purchase chain – they can see what card numbers are used and which accounts points are credited to, it could be limited to either or both of the card number or Alaska Mileage Plan account. Either way, there should be a workaround.

  • disqust101

    FYI – Alaska is back with 40% promo.

    Question: I’m US based flyer trying to find scarce QF F space for SO and I on A380 LAX/SYD or MEL.

    I know I can book using AA/BA/AS sites, but they only see ~330 days of inventory, so can’t snag the few F seats when they are released at ~350 by QF (F is almost always gone by the time they see seats).

    As such, trying to find method of booking those seats using a program I can transfer points to – I looked at transferring Membership Reward points to AsiaMiles, but AsiaMiles, while able to see space, seems to always list flight status as “closed”.

    Do you know of another program where I could transfer MRs and gain access to QF seats as soon as they release them?

    Thanks!

    • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

      I don’t think there’s an Australian MR partner program that will let you have access to 330+ day award seats on QF. What about MR -> Starwood -> Qantas? Yields around 0.625 MR to QFF when done as 20k SPG point blocks = 25k QFF = 40k MR.

      • disqust101

        Thanks. Forgot about SPG. But only have enough for one seat, so wont work. And it’s a terrible redemption for SPG.

        There is option of booking VX LAX-SYD/MEL using Delta Skypesos.

        How would you rate QF J on A380 vs VX J on 777?

        My fall back is CX F to HKG and then J to SYD – but there is long layover in HKG – almost twice the time to get to SYD than nonstop on QF or VX. United/*Alliance has effectively zero availability.

        • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

          Have not flown VA International Business Class (yet), but I think I would take whatever one I could get for the dates and points I have available, to be honest. VA Business isn’t going to be bad by any means.
          What about a paid fare? Fiji Airways often have good Business Fares out of LAX to syd/mel/brisbane via Nadi. You could also look into a points redemption via AA on Fiji Airways too… may have better space available.

          • disqust101

            Thanks, yes, VA, not VX. Have too many miles lying around not to try and use them somehow, so paid fare isn’t in the equation. I’ll look into Fiji/AA – didn’t know about that option. Cheers.

          • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

            OK – definitely look into Fiji Airways (keep wanting to call them Air Pacific). Looks like a solid new product on the A330, not 100% flat but a seat is better than no seat.
            Otherwise… the hardship of CX F and Business shouldn’t be too hard to bear : )

      • disqust101
  • Stephen

    keith, wanting to book mel to HK return business at the end of the year, tried looking for award flights on alaska and nothing comes up even for different dates. However American Airlines awards system does show for qantas. whys that? do you have to call alaskan airlines to find out availability for qantas as well ?

    • http://www.pointhacks.com.au/ Keith

      Yep, you’ll definitely need to call in that case, but prepared to be disappointed as sometimes space just doesn’t match from one program to another.