Alaska has just announced a promotion on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles which runs through September 30, 2013.
They’re offering tiered bonuses on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles of up to 40%. The tiers are as follows:
You can purchase of up 40,000 miles in one transaction, so if you purchase the maximum allowed 40,000 miles you’d get a 40% bonus, for a grand total of 56,000 Mileage Plan miles. At a cost of $1,182.50 including tax, that comes out to ~2.1 cents per mile.
While the cap is 40,000 miles per transaction, if I’m not mistaken you can purchase as many Mileage Plan miles as you’d like, so my guess is that you can take advantage of this promotion multiple times for a single account.
Mileage Plan miles have hugely gone up in value lately, and that’s due to the ability to now redeem miles on Emirates and that they began allowing stopover on one way international partner awards. But while they have multiple partners that span alliances, the two best airlines to book are Cathay Pacific and Emirates.
For example, you can book Cathay Pacific one-way first class from the US to Asia, Africa, India, or the Middle East for 70,000 miles in first class with a stopover in Hong Kong. Keep in mind that if using American miles to Africa, India, or the Middle East, you can’t book Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong on a single partner award, since with few exceptions they don’t let you transit a third region on award travel. That’s the great thing about Alaska miles, since they don’t have the same rules.
So at ~2.1 cents per mile you’re paying ~$1,420 for first class from San Francisco to Hong Kong to Johannesburg in Cathay Pacific first class, which are two 12+ hour flights.
Similarly, Emirates first class between the US and Asia runs 100,000 miles, and while that’s quite a bit more, you could do something like Los Angeles to Dubai on the A380 (when the A380 service starts in December), stopover in Dubai for as long as you’d like, and then Dubai to Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, etc. At ~$2,100 for two segments in Emirates longhaul A380 first class, I’d say that’s still a bargain.
While I wouldn’t speculatively load up on Alaska miles since I’m sure they’ll be devalued eventually (there has been too much “give” and not enough “take” to their program lately), if you have short term plans for travel on Cathay Pacific or Emirates, I’d say it’s tough to beat this deal.
When booking a ticket Alaska does also let you purchase 10,000 miles at the cost of $190 plus tax, which is marginally cheaper, for what it’s worth.
Lastly, I should note that Alaska mileage purchases are processed by points.com, so wouldn’t qualify as airline spend for the purpose of credit cards.