Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles On Sale

Through December 20, 2013, Alaska is offering up to a 35% bonus on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles. The bonuses are tiered, meaning the more miles you buy, the bigger the bonus you get, as follows:

  • Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles: get a 20% Bonus
  • Buy 20,000 – 34,000 miles: get a 30% Bonus
  • Buy 35000 – 40,000 miles: get a 35% Bonus

Alaska-Mileage-Plan-Miles

The standard rate to purchase Alaska Mileage Plan miles is 2.75 cents each, plus a 7.5% tax recovery fee. That means if you max out the promotion you can purchase 54,000 Mileage Plan miles for $1,182.50, which is a cost of ~2.19 cents per mile.

Alaska-Mileage-Plan-Miles1

For what it’s worth, Alaska ran a slightly better version of the promotion in September, offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of miles.

But this deal can still be totally worthwhile. What’s cool about Alaska is that they don’t limit the number of miles you can purchase per account per calendar year or per promotion, so you can more or less purchase as many miles as you’d like. They cap each transaction at 40,000 miles, but you can purchase up to that number as often as you’d like. The only restriction is with points.com, which doesn’t let you use the same credit card for more than four mileage purchases per 30 day period.

Typically when miles are for sale at a rate of over two cents each I’d give it a pass, but Alaska is an exception under certain circumstances, in my opinion.

Alaska actually made their miles even more valuable this year by adding Emirates as a redemption partner, and by not only allowing one-way redemptions at half the cost of a roundtrip, but also allowing a stopover on a one-way award, making them one of the only airlines with such a generous policy.

For example, you can redeem 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for one-way travel in Cathay Pacific first class from the US to Africa, India, the Middle East, and all of Asia. That means you could fly something like San Francisco > Hong Kong > Johannesburg in first class, with a stopover in Hong Kong for as long as you’d like. Being able to purchase enough miles to book that for ~$1,500 is a bargain, in my opinion.

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class
Cathay Pacific first class

Similarly, using their partner Emirates, you can redeem 100,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for one-way travel in Emirates first class from the US to Europe, Asia, or Africa. Again, you could have a stopover in Dubai for as long as you’d like. That means you can potentially book two Emirates A380 first class flights for that price, like Los Angeles to Dubai (the longest A380 flight in the world when it launches next month) and Dubai to Bangkok. Purchasing enough miles for something like that for just $2,200 is also a bargain.

Emirates-A380-First-Class
Emirates A380 first class

Lastly, it’s worth noting that since mileage purchases are processed through points.com, the purchase of miles wouldn’t count as airfare for the purposes of credit card spend.

Bottom line

While this promotion probably isn’t for everyone, if you’re someone that doesn’t have huge mileage balances and is looking for a great way to purchase discounted premium cabin tickets, this promotion is pretty tough to beat. That’s especially true thanks to the ability to purchase an unlimited number of miles through the promotion. Cathay Pacific and Emirates are among my favorite airlines in the world, and first class on them doesn’t get much cheaper than through this promotion.

Comments

  1. @lucky, Sorry, I should be more specific. If I am travelling with Emirates from Hong Kong to Europe with a stop-over in Dubai. Will that still be 42,500?

  2. Up until the United massive devaluation, I’d jump on this. I moved Marriott points to Alaska and purchased at the 40%, trying to build my account for enough miles for NYC-HKG-SYD on Cathay. The UA move has shaken my confidence! My Mom is 100 and my mother-in-law is 98 and my wife is nervous about such a long trip while we’re still blessed with their presence. 54,000 more would pay for Business Class and still time to add (like with Starwood transfers) to get First (one of my most memorable trips ever was Cathay First last January). Have to give this one some more thought.

  3. Those are great redemption rates on Cathay and emirates….but is availability at those levels pretty rare?

  4. @Steven S

    I could not agree more. After United miles became practically worthless overnight there is no way I am putting my hard earned cash into any of these programs unless I can redeem the same day… and even then I’d think twice about it.

  5. After United massive devaluation, I am start looking another program.
    I am not familiar with Alaska mileage plan. Can I book CX online via Alaska website? Or I have to call to make a booking? thanks!

  6. @ Flyer — No, it’s not possible to do that unfortunately. The one downside to Alaska’s program is that they don’t let you mix partner airlines on a single award. You can fly Alaska Airlines to the gateway city, but other than that you have to fly a single partner airline the whole way.

    For booking Cathay Pacific you have to call — it’s one of the few partners that isn’t bookable online.

  7. @lukcy – do you know whether i can book the tickets which originates from HK? It seems that i can’t do it online.

  8. @ NG — You sure can. If you’re looking at Cathay Pacific tickets, the issue is that they’re not bookable through Alaska’s website — you have to call.

  9. @lucky – Thanks for your reply! However, if I wanna book EK from HKG to DXB, that’s not doable right? Not a valid routing? or I have to call? Appreciate if you can help as I am new to Alaska.

  10. Approx. $2200 for LAX-DXB, DXB-Europe in Emirates First is about as good as you’re gonna get. But how often do sales like this happen? I’m interested, but would prefer to not pull the trigger for another couple months.

  11. Lucky:

    You can get a lower per mile rate by buying miles when booking a ticket on AA. Buy the miles for 1.9 cents per mile, then cancel the ticket within 24 hours.

  12. @ lucky

    Only allow one carrier for the whole trip? I remember it gives me AF+KLM combination when I searched flight from Europe to Toronto.

  13. Hi, all,

    I am also new to this program. I saw all the reward charts are based on the North Amercia and other regions. Does it mean I cannot redeem a trip like HKG-LHR?

  14. Alaska’s Mileage Plan has always been a tease for me, personally. They have some great deals, but because I live in Brazil they’re pretty useless to me. All awards are between North America and the area in question. So from South America I can only go to North America. Pretty lame, if you ask me, but sadly nobody’s asking! šŸ˜‰

  15. Hi Lucky,

    I wonder how a generous blogger like you make money – offering advice so freely! šŸ™‚

    Anyway, I have a question, and I guess the answer is very likely a “no”. Can I use the award miles to travel from outside the U.S. (like Asia) to Europe or the U.S.

  16. “That means you can potentially book two Emirates A380 first class flights for that price, like Los Angeles to Dubai (the longest A380 flight in the world when it launches next month) and Dubai to Bangkok. Purchasing enough miles for something like that for just $2,200 is also a bargain.”

    ———–

    sort of like the old ex-CMB fare but in reverse …

  17. Marshall: is this like the USDM or UA miles multiplier option when you buy a flexible fare where you buy extra miles a separate transaction – I didnt know AA offered that?

  18. @ Terry – You can travel to or from the US, so you could travel from Asia to the US. The only option between Asia and Europe would be on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong.

  19. @ Marshall – Thanks for attending my seminar in Chicago! Yes, that is a potential option for purchasing miles on Alaska, though that can be pretty time consuming, and is not without risk. This is a published promotion, so a bit more approachable for most.

  20. @ Mike S. – I think they meant AS, but yes, that’s exactly how it works. Look for “Fly and Buy MilesĀ­” on the Alaska site.

  21. Thanks for your reply, Lucky!

    I looking for the CX flight from SFO-HKG. And would like to maximum the ticket to add a stopover city. What’s the best way to maximum it? And is that possible to do SFO-NRT (stopover few days)-HKG one way ticket?
    For the return flight HKG-SFO, I am going to burn my UA miles before 2/1/2014. Thanks for your help.

  22. @ Flyer — Since you can’t mix airlines on an award, if you want to fly Cathay Pacific out of San Francisco you can only fly them to Hong Kong, and from there you can connect to just about anywhere after a stopover at no extra cost.

  23. What tool do you use to check award availability for Cathay through Alaska? Is it similar to AAdvantage award availability?

  24. Can I book something like this on EK by Alaska miles: JFK-MXP(stopover)-DXB(layover)-NRT
    It should be 100K right? but why I can’t book it on Alaska? Can you help?

  25. @ Shannon — Unfortunately unless you book the “direct” flight from New York to Dubai (and just connect in Milan rather than stopping there) it doesn’t price. Sorry!

  26. Hi Lucky,

    Just to confirm, if I were to use Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific to fly from Asia to the U.S., I’ll need to call CP’s Hong Kong office to book and fly from HK, right? SInce I am in S’pore now, is there anyway to get round this besides buying an air ticket from SIN to HK?

    Another option I am thinking of is buying United Miles, if I were to fly ANA with United Miles, does that mean I’ll need to fly from Japan? If that is the case, how hard would it be to get an award space on SIA’s First Suites? And if it is possible to fly SIA’s First Suites how many United Miles will I need to fly from SIN to LAX?

    If SIA’s First Suites are out, what about Thai Air’s F? How hard/easy is it to find 2 seats and how many United Miles do I need per seat – from SIN to LAX, one-way? If this is a much better bet, does that mean I’ll need to call Tahi Air’s office in Bangkok to book?

  27. @ Terry — No, your ticket could originate in Singapore, and you’d call Alaska Mileage Plan to book the ticket, and not Cathay Pacific.

    United doesn’t have access to Singapore first class award space, though they do have access to Thai first class award space.

  28. If I did a one way Chicago-Hong Kong -South Africa on cathay, via this promotion

    Any interesting way to get back from Africa to Chicago rather than backtrack?

    I have a ton of points all over so would be open to almost anything.

    This could be in business-even coach

    Thanks in advance-you are the best

  29. @ jfa — Well you could fly Emirates to a US gateway using Alaska miles. Otherwise South Africa is typically a tough market using miles.

    If you’re planning in advance it’s tough to beat the convenience of the South African Airways flights to Washington or New York, and at 60,000 United miles in business class it’s a tough value to beat.

  30. Thanks for all the great info.
    CX – HKG – SYD in J or PECO…what is the best tool to find availability. I know Points Pro seem good have emailed then before buy yet to use. Want a rt HKG any class 5Dec back around 18th Thx !!!

  31. Hi lucky – are we allowed to redeem mixed cabin classes (i.e. first and business) on one single award ticket?

  32. @ Lucky ā€” What is the best way to use Alaska miles to travel from either the US to Europe (any major city) or Asia to Europe?

  33. @ Terry – The only real option between Asia and Europe is Cathay Pacific, as Alaska doesn’t publish a chart between all zones. Between the US and Europe you have tons of options, though my favorite is Emirates with a stopover in Dubai.

  34. Thanks, Lucky. So I’ll have to call Alaska to book awards on Asia and Europe or US and Europe routes, huh? Are first and/or business cabins relatively easy to get?

  35. Hi lucky,

    Tried to book KIX – HKG (stop-over) -SIN on Cathay via alaskan airlines miles redemption but was told that I would have to book it as two separate one way award tickets as they’re going in the wrong direction? Do you happen to know if this is a rule?

  36. @ Terry — Fairly easy, yes. You can always search space online and once you’ve found it you can call to book, which eliminates a bit of the guessing game.

  37. @ David — The routing itself should be legal, I think the issue is that since you’re only flying within a single region you can’t have a stopover.

  38. @ Lucky ā€” Which site should I go to search space and if I am not a member of say, British Air or one of Alaska’s partners, will I still able to search there?

    If my dad is not an Alaska’s frequent flyer member, will I still be able to buy miles for him?

    Thanks, Lucky!

  39. @ Terry — You can sign up for a British Airways account and then search space here.

    You can sign your dad up for an Alaska account and then can buy miles for him. Otherwise you can buy miles in a different account and redeem the for him. Either should be fine.

  40. Cathay class of service from Hong Kong to Jo’berg shows Business class as the highest class of serviceā€¦ā€¦..so the last 13 hours of your 28 hour trip would be in business NOT FIRSTā€¦ā€¦ā€¦…

  41. @ justSaying — Four cabin service is seasonal. Roughly half the year they operate an aircraft with a first class product, while the other half of the year they operate an aircraft without a first class product.

  42. Ive been an Alaska airlines mileage program member for a long time. I like the new flexible one-way redemptions. What surprises me is that when you book an international flight on business class now, there is no guarantee that you will be in business class on all legs of the trip. So if you booked a one-way lets say PDX–LAX–IST, PDX to LAX could in first class. And LAX to IST could be in coach class. Are all airlines doing the same thing?

  43. Lucky, Can I redeem 100k Alaska points on Emirates from BOS-DXB-HKG once they start non stop service from BOS-DXB? What is the best place to search for EK award availabilities?

    TIA!

  44. @ jet — They should always disclose when that’s the case, so really they’re just giving you the option to book things more flexibly.

  45. @ Fan — Yep, you sure can once the route starts. You can search Emirates award availability most easily on ExpertFlyer and on Alaska’s website, even, though I’d recommend searching segment by segment.

  46. Does the stop have to be in hkg on a lax-hkg-sin award? Or can I stop in sin and end back in hkg? Lax-hkg-sin(stop)-hkg

  47. @ E — Well I can’t think of any other routing that would be legal, so generally it does have to be in Hong Kong. It’s not legal to transit Hong Kong twice on a one-way.

  48. I just created Alaska Mileage Plan account. Are there a certain amount of days I have to wait to take advantage of the current 40% promo? I know US Air has the 12 day rule. I received the follow error message: The Mileage Plan account you specified is not eligible to purchase miles.

  49. Hey Rob,

    I spoke to AS rep last week and she stated that a new account has to be open for 10 days. Now, I’m able to purchase miles.

    Also, you can call and they can do it over the phone if you can not wait 10 days. I hope this helps.

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