Alaska offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles through September 30, 2013

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, so wouldn’t qualify as airline spend for the purpose of credit cards.


  1. Jack says

    Actually, you can beat this deal buy buying miles at the time you buy a ticket for $0.019 cents per mile plus tax.

  2. Amit says

    Lucky, if I want to do houston to Hong Kong to Cape Town on miles is it extra to get me from houston to a Cathay hub?does cathay fly to capetown or just JNB?Thanks a lot.

  3. lucky says

    @ wayne — Not tough, especially if you’re willing to book within a few weeks of departure. Space can easily be searched on

  4. lucky says

    @ Amit — Cathay Pacific unfortunately doesn’t fly to Cape Town. You could include the segment from Houston to the gateway city as long as it’s on Alaska, which may require connecting through Seattle or Portland.

  5. Apu says

    Lucky – I thought one of your recent articles was on how bad the availability is on EK suites – I am a little surprised coz your tone here sounds more optimistic than that article, only a few weeks back… comments :) ?

  6. lucky says

    @ Apu — Well you can purchase one set of 10,000 miles per reservation, but there’s no limit to how many total sets you can buy if you have enough reservations.

  7. lucky says

    @ Apu — Availability definitely isn’t as good as it used to be, but it’s still rather good within a few weeks of departure. It’s just tough if you’re looking for multiple seats.

  8. Apu says

    Thanks Lucky – both of those responses help.

    And I suppose if I am in SF area, I can connect on AS to LAX for the EK flight, correct?

  9. TN says

    I just was looking at AS web for EK F aval in Sep and Oct. Looks wide open Dallas to anywhere in Asia. I looked Asia to JFK to fly the A-380 in F. Tons of Aval dates in OCT. Not bad for 100K

  10. eponymous coward says

    “… there’s no limit to how many total sets you can buy if you have enough reservations.”

    … or completely refundable full-Y/F tickets. ;)

  11. eponymous coward says

    “And I suppose if I am in SF area, I can connect on AS to LAX for the EK flight, correct?”

    Yes, AS flies SJC-LAX. Just not SFO-LAX on AA/DL (can’t mix those partners with EK on a single award).

  12. lucky says

    @ Apu — As eponymous coward notes, you just can’t mix partners. But if you can get to the gateway on Alaska and there’s award space, you can book it on the same award ticket.

  13. Lantean says


    wow, you’re right.. i am looking at F for 2 pax JFK-DXB and it’s available almost every day in the coming weeks… often both flights… pretty amazing! now i value Alaska miles so much more!

  14. Dima says

    Does Alaska charge fuel surcharges for flights out of Europe? (Emirates, Qantas, Cathay Pacific)

  15. lucky says

    @ Lantean — Yep, I feel like they’ve gotten even better lately with opening up space last minute.

  16. Kelly says

    @Dima…to correct lucky slightly: BA charges the fuel surcharga. Alaska merely passes it through to you.

  17. David says

    Can you combine partners on one award? For instance, the award chart shows Australia to Hong Kong on Cathay. Could you add domestic Qantas segments or does it have to be all Cathay?

  18. Steve says

    Hi lucky,
    Can you join now and buy? Or only available to members existing prior to offer?

  19. lucky says

    @ David — That’s the major downside to Alaska miles. You can’t combine partners, so have to stick to one airline for whole journey. Only exceptions are that you can do Air France/KLM on a single award, and you can always add an Alaska flight to the gateway city, but that’s about it.

  20. Tovah says

    Hi Ben. For travel on Emirates, it looks like you can only redeem to/from the US. Is that correct?

  21. Andrew says

    Lucky, I see your note to Steve, but I’m getting an error when I try to purchase. I just joined to take advantage of this offer and fly EK for ~$2K in F. Any idea if this is a temporary thing (just give it a day or two) or if I’m excluded from the promo like US Air does?

  22. lucky says

    @ Tovah — That’s correct, unfortunately. One frustrating thing about Alaska’s program is the rather limited zones for which they publish award charts.

  23. lucky says

    @ Andrew — Hmm, I don’t believe there should be an issue. Maybe try again tomorrow or in a different browser? Still investigating and will let you know if I figure anything out.

  24. Andrew says

    I called and apparently there is a 10 day waiting period before you can buy miles for “fraud protection”. I guess I’ll just hope that the inventory stays open for me and buy the miles in 10 days.

  25. lucky says

    @ Andrew — Thanks for the update, good to know for future reference. For what it’s worth, Emirates availability tends to be good last minute, so I doubt you’ll have many issues finding space.

  26. lucky says

    @ Ivan Y — Right, now that they allow one way awards for half the cost of a roundtrip you can fly one airline outbound and another return.


  1. […] Alaska Airlines is offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles through September 30. That prices miles at about 2.1 cents apiece. You can buy up to 40,000 miles (plus bonus) per transaction, and can make as many transactions as you wish, though several charged to the same credit card within 30 days may flag the transaction as possible fraud. The points are processed by so no credit card category bonuses for the spending. This could be a good opportunity to top off a Mileage Plan account, such as for one-way awards in first class on Emirates and Cathay Pacific. (HT: Lucky). […]

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