Alaska Airlines has long offered their Fly & Buy Miles program, whereby you can purchase either 2,500, 5,000, or 10,000 miles at the time you ticket a reservation. The cost to purchase 10,000 miles was $190 plus tax, so including tax it was basically an opportunity to purchase Alaska miles for just over two cents each.
Given the amazing redemption opportunities available through Mileage Plan for travel on Cathay Pacific and Emirates, and especially given that you can book one-way awards and even have stopovers on them, in many cases this was a hell of a deal. For specific redemption scenarios, I’d argue Alaska miles are the single most valuable mileage currency.
One way to take advantage of this was to book refundable tickets and use the Fly & Buy miles offering at the time of ticketing, and then later later cancelling the tickets while keeping the miles.
Alaska has unfortunately raised the price of this option and also added more terms, which I guess isn’t surprising after a blogger specifically outlined how to exploit this loophole. Along similar lines, just last month Alaska began limiting mileage sales exclusively to those with accounts registered in North America.
So what changes did Alaska make to the Fly & Buy Miles program?
Alaska raised the cost of purchasing miles through Fly & Buy Miles
Previously Alaska charged $190 plus tax to purchase 10,000 miles. Now they’ve raised the cost to $200 plus tax for 10,000 miles.
That means including the 7.5% tax, the new cost to purchase 10,000 miles is $215, or 2.15 cents per mile.
Alaska has updated the terms of Fly & Buy Miles for those refunding tickets
The bolded section below has been added to terms of the Fly & Buy Miles program:
Fly & Buy Miles™ Terms and Conditions
- Fly & Buy Miles are only offered during the initial purchase of a revenue ticket on alaskaair.com.
- Fly & Buy Miles are not offered when purchasing award reservations.
- Fly & Buy Miles are credited to your Mileage Plan account separately from miles earned by taking a qualifying flight.
- Prices are stated in U.S. Dollars and are subject to applicable taxes, currently 7.5% for U.S. residents. Taxes vary for residents of other countries.
- Fly & Buy Miles and associated taxes are nonrefundable.
- Purchased Fly & Buy Miles do not count toward qualification for Mileage Plan MVP or MVP Gold status.
- Fly & Buy Miles will generally post to your Mileage Plan account immediately after the transaction is complete but may take up to two business days.
- Fly & Buy Miles purchased with a ticket that is later refunded will be subject to additional fees at the standard rate of 2.75 cents per mile plus applicable taxes.
- The Mileage Plan Conditions of Membership apply to Fly & Buy Miles.
So now if you refund a ticket with which you used the Fly & Buy Miles option, Alaska reserves the right to charge you the difference between what you paid and the standard rate of 2.75 cents plus tax per purchased mile.
I guess this really shouldn’t be surprising. Here’s my personal philosophy for sharing “tricks:”
- If someone shares a “trick” with me in confidence under the condition that I don’t pass it on, I’ll of course honor that.
- Other than that, I try to think about what will maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people. If more people will benefit from a trick being shared (like a short term mistake fare), then I’ll share it. If more people will benefit from it not being shared, I won’t.
I wish it made sense to share all tricks, but the problem aside from the “visibility” of a blog post, is that some people just aren’t able to apply common sense to a situation.
That’s what makes the airlines catch on.
Where do you stand on sharing “tricks” like this? Am I off base?
(Tip of the hat to RLG)