The Another Alaska Airlines MileagePlan promotion is running, this time offering up to a 40% bonus (the maximum) on Mileage Plan miles purchases until October 6th.
This is one of the few ways of purchasing miles cheaply to then redeem on partner airlines like Qantas and Cathay Pacific, and can be useful for cheaper Business Class travel on Qantas to the USA, domestically,
The offer is tiered, so a maximum purchase of 56,000 Mileage Plan miles for $1,182.50 USD – with the ability to purchase multiple chunks of miles it’s possible to fly Cathay Pacific or Qantas to Asia, the US or beyond in Business Class for just a few thousand dollars.
The current Alaska Airlines ‘buy miles’ promotion
The offer is tiered as follows:
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles receive 20% bonus miles
- Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles receive 30% bonus miles
- Buy 40,000 + miles receive 40% bonus miles
The best opportunity is to buy the maximum 40,000 miles, for a total of 56,000 miles received with the bonus at a cost of $1182.50 USD.
The purchase of miles is stackable, so you can buy as many chunks of 40,000 miles (plus bonus) as you need. The only limit is 4 transactions in 30 days on the same credit card which is applied from points.com – so use a different card number for more transactions, but with your same Mileage Plan account, and you should be fine.
Of course the worsening AUD:USD exchange rate does make overseas miles purchases more expensive right now – which makes the advice for ‘don’t buy miles unless you have a plan to redeem’ even more pertinent.
These are my favourite redemption opportunities for cheap business class travel from Australia with Mileage Plan redemptions:
|Example||Cost (USD) when maximising current promotion|
|Fiji Airways: 45,000 miles one way from Australia (or New Zealand) to Hawaii in Fiji Airways Business Class||$949.5|
|Cathay Pacific: 30,000 miles one way from Australia to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific Business Class||$633|
|Cathay Pacific: 60,000 miles one way from Australia to the USA in Cathay Pacific Business Class||$1266|
|Korean Air: 125,000 miles return (no one-ways) from Australia to the USA in Korean Air Business Class||$2637.5|
|Qantas: 55,000 miles one way from Australia to the USA in Qantas Business Class||$1160.5|
The costs above are in USD and based on the current promotion with a best case cost of 2.11 USD cents per miles. This assumes you maximise the promotion and buy chunks of the maximum amount of miles, redeeming strategically to get the most value. Your actual cost of redemption will vary upward if you don’t do this.
What about stopovers? One stopovers in intermediate cities are allowed for one way awards, so book your return as two one-ways and you can get stopovers in both directions.
For more prices, check out the Australia Mileage Plan award chart here.
As many have found on those previous posts (just read the comments), it’s an easy winner to take advantage of for long haul Business and First Class travel on Alaska Airlines partners such as Cathay Pacific, to Europe and the USA. You can also get great value out of longer intra-Australia or NZ redemptions in Business Class too on Qantas.
Guide to making the most of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan ‘buy miles’ promotions for cheap Business Class and First Class travel on Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and others
This guide is republished each time the offer comes back again with the latest detail, and the comments on this post carry on over so you can get a sense of the most frequently considered questions about the deal.
Keeping an eye on the rhythm of mileage purchase offers can help you be more informed about when to buy. Alaska Airlines maximum bonus is usually 40%.
- August/September 2015: 40% bonus
- July/August 2015: 35% bonus
- March 2015: 40% bonus
- November/December 2014: 35% bonus
- September/October 2014: 40% bonus
- May 2014: 35% bonus
- March 2014: 40% bonus
- December 2013: 35% bonus
- September 2013: 40% bonus
About Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program before, is 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.
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
- Air France
- British Airways
- Delta Air Lines
- Era Alaska
- Fiji Airways
Points redemption 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 to confirm availability, and try and research or book over the phone.
Opportunities for travel on Qantas
The Qantas award chart for Alaska MileagePlan looks like this:
You’ll note that all intra-Australia 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 good value.
Opportunities for travel on Cathay Pacific
The Cathay Pacific award chart looks like this:
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.
A one way Premium Economy ticket routing through Hong Kong to the US comes in at 47.5k miles.
Finally, for your interest, the Fiji Airways award chart is below:
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:
$24.10 USD isn’t too problematic. 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 – this isn’t 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.
Cathay Pacific availability is notoriously flaky to confirm through many online sources – such as searching through qantas.com or britishairways.com. Even Cathay’s own website shows incorrect availability for external partners, as they make more seats available to their own Asia Miles members.
The best way to get a view on accurate space online is using the JAL website, by signing up for a membership of JAL Mileage Bank or through awardnexus. Alternatively calling Mileage Plan directly should do the tric
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.
I rarely buy miles to hold and use at a later date without planned travel, and this promotion is no different. However, for tickets I know I want to buy, with specific dates and routes in mind, I would definitely research cost and availability through Mileage Plan as this is a great lower cost option for securing Business and First Class redemptions on a range of familiar carriers.