Alaska Airlines MileagePlan’s excellent 40% points bonus on purchased miles ends on March 31st (US time), and it’s worth a reminder.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 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 and domestically.
This deal is about as low a price as Alaska sell their miles when not targeting specific accounts for larger bonuses.
Unfortunately Alaska accounts need to be around 10 days old to be able to buy miles, so if you didn’t already sign up for a MileagePlan account you won’t be able to take advantage of the deal this time around.
If you purchase with a 40% bonus, you can purchase a total of 84,000 Mileage Plan miles (including the bonus) for $1773.75 USD – 2.11 US cents per mile, or around 2.97 AU cents per mile with today’s exchange rates.
You can also purchase multiple chunks of miles with this program, so it’s possible to fly Cathay Pacific or Qantas to Asia, the US or beyond in Business Class for just a few thousand dollars.
Example uses of Mileage Plan Miles for Australian Travellers
These are my favourite redemption opportunities for cheap business class travel from Australia with Mileage Plan redemptions:
|Example itinerary||Cost of miles in 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|
- These costs don’t include airline taxes for this route applied by Alaska
- The costs above are in USD and based on the current promotion with a best case cost of 1.97 US cents per miles.
- The costs assumes you maximise the promotion and buy chunks of the maximum amount of miles, redeeming strategically to get the most value.
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.
The current Alaska Airlines ‘buy miles’ promotion
The offer is tiered into 20%, 30% and 40% bonuses depending on how many miles you buy.
- 10,000-19,000 miles = 20% bonus
- 20,000-39,000 miles = 30% bonus
- 40,000-60,000 miles = 40% bonus
The purchase of miles is stackable, so you can buy as many chunks of miles (plus the bonus) as you need.
Note though there is a limit of 4 transactions in 30 days on the same credit card which is applied from points.com who processes the transaction – 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.
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%.
- February/March 2016: up to 40% bonus
- November/December 2015: up to 50% bonus, targeted
- 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 it’s probably not going to be allowed.
And if the booking engine does not yield a result for a search, you’ll need to call Alaska via Skype or similar to confirm availability, and try and research or book over the phone.
Can you add stopovers to an award?
One stopover in an intermediate city is allowed for one way awards, so book your return as two one-ways and you can get stopovers in both directions.
A stopover is where you can break one ticket into two or more flights across different days by stopping in a city that you would fly to anyway along the way. This is only valid where Alaska shows the cost between two regions on an award chart, which then creates a stopover opportunity possible on that routing.
Take Cathay Pacific to the US via Hong Kong for example – this prices as Australia to Hong Kong, and then Hong Kong to the US. You are forced to make two redemptions and sum the cost in miles of both, so a stopover in Hong Kong is not possible – you are actually booking two tickets. You can of course have a break in Hong Kong on the way.
But a stopover would be possible on Fiji Airways from Australia to the US via Fiji – you’d be able to break the trip free of charge in Nadi, when booking a one way award to the US from Australia.
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.
Opportunities for travel on Emirates
The Alaska Airlines Emirates award chart unfortunately does not allow for Australia – Dubai redemptions.
But you can use Mileage Plan miles for travel to/from Dubai and the US, as well as between the US and India, and the US and Africa. As a result it’s possible to use miles on trips further afield.
Here’s the Emirates Mileage Plan award chart:
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.
Generally surcharges on Alaska redemptions are very reasonable compared to Asia Miles, Qantas and other programs we are used to here (with the exception of British Airways).
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 trick.
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).
I rarely buy miles to hold and use at a later date without planned travel. 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.