Alaska Airlines doesn’t belong to any alliance, but they have a variety of partners where you can earn or redeem MileagePlan miles with. Their partners often have aspirational products, like Cathay Pacific First Class and Emirates First Class. Other than these two, Alaska also partners with AeroMexico, Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, FIJI Airways, Hainan Airlines, Japan Airlines, Icelandair, KLM, Korean Air, LAN, and Qantas.
Up to 50% Bonus on Miles Purchases
Alaska offers promotions on buying miles pretty often, where you can sometimes score a 40% or even 50% bonus. Well, they are back at it again. From now to September 29, 2016, they are offering a “Mystery Bonus.” You have to log in to see what you are targeted with, but Alaska says they are giving 35%, 40%, or 50% bonus.
I am targeted for up to a 40% bonus this time around, which is still pretty great. The bonus is tiered, as follows:
- No Bonus: 0 – 9,000 miles
- 20% Bonus: 10,000 – 19,000 miles
- 30% Bonus: 20,000 – 39,000 miles
- 40% Bonus: 40,000 – 60,000 miles
This means you only get the highest bonus if you purchase 40,000 miles or more. In my case, I’d $1182.50 for a total of 56,000 miles (after bonus). That’s about 2.1 cents per mile, which honestly is pretty standard with their promotions.
If you are targeted for a 50% bonus, though, your cost will be around 1.97 cents per mile, which is the lowest I have seen them offered.
Why Alaska Miles are GREAT
I really like Alaska miles for a few reason. To begin, they do not limit the number of miles you can buy in a calendar year. You can buy as many miles as you want, which is great for people who are either just getting started, or are just looking to get a “cheap” Business or First Class ticket through miles. Alaska also allows stopovers on one-way awards, which is awesome. Furthermore, they don’t add fuel surcharges on all carriers (except British Airways), and offer free changes on your ticket up to 60 days prior to departure.
In March, they devalued their Emirates award chart overnight, and using Alaska miles for Emirates is no longer lucrative. However, there are still tons of sweet spots where Alaska Miles represent a great value.
For example, with just 60,000 miles, you can fly one-way from the US to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific Business Class, and then onto Australia. Because Alaska allows a stopover on one-way tickets, you can even spend a few days in Hong Kong, all on the same ticket! If you buy miles from scratch under this promotion, this one-way ticket from the US to Hong Kong to Australia will cost you as little as $1,183 + taxes/fees.
Alternatively, you can do the same trip in First Class for 80,000 miles. With a 50% bonus, the miles enough for a one-way ticket would cost $1,577 + taxes/fees. Keep in mind Cathay Pacific does not actually offer First Class between Hong Kong to Australia, so only the US-Hong Kong flight will be in First Class.
Alaska’s award chart on Cathay Pacific flights from the US to Asia is also pretty great. Here, you can redeem 50,000 miles for a one-way trip from the US to Hong Kong, and then onto another Asian destination.
If you are targeted for a 50% bonus, that means you are paying ~$985 for a one-way business class ticket from the US to Hong Kong, and then onto another Asian city. That is a fantastic way to visit a few cities while flying in style.
A Few Caveats…
Of course, when using miles, you are subject to award availability. I also have to note, Alaska Airlines got a lot of crap for devaluing their Emirates award chart overnight without notice. This can represent two outcome: (1) Alaska understands people get upset when award charts change without notice, and will not do so again, or (2) Alaska will continue to make award chart changes without notice, rendering the miles a “buyer beware” situation.
Additionally, some partners are not “redeemable” yet. For example, Alaska recently began their partnership with Japan Airlines, and you can earn Alaska miles with JAL. However, you can’t redeem Alaska miles for Japan Airlines flights just yet.
Should You Buy?
There are very few situations where I would buy miles speculatively. Since I already have a healthy balance of Alaska miles from the last promotion, and I am only targeted for a 40% bonus, I am holding off.
However, if you are targeted for a 50% bonus, I would seriously consider stocking up (within reason) on Alaska miles. At a rate of 1.97 cents/mile, you can redeem for Cathay Pacific’s renowned Business Class product for less than $2,000 (+taxes/fees) roundtrip. That’s incredible!
This promotion runs until September 29, 2016.
What promotion are you targeted for? Are you buying Alaska miles this time around?