Alaska

Today Only: Earn 15 Alaska Miles Per Dollar Spent At Select Retailers

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Online shopping portals can be a great way to pick up additional miles & points for purchases you’d make anyway. Just for following a specific link you can earn bonus points in addition to the ones you’d earn anyway for credit card spend.

Sometimes it gets even better than that, as shopping portals have promotions with even better bonuses than usual. Well, there’s one such promotion now.

Through 11:59PM ET today, Friday, January 20, 2017, you can earn 15 bonus Alaska miles per dollar spent at select retailers.

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Roundtrip Transcon Virgin America First Class Tickets For 15,000 Miles

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Several weeks ago Alaska announced that they were introducing some new discounted distance based awards. Specifically, there are discounted awards available if flying a distance of less than 700 miles, a distance of 701 to 1,400 miles or a distance of 1,401 to 2,100 miles.

As I explained at the time, this presented some incredible opportunities to book one-way awards for 5,000 miles including a stopover.

While not directly related to this type of award, there are certainly other opportunities to take advantage of discounted distance based awards.

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Why You SHOULDN’T Convert Your Virgin America Points Into Alaska Miles

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As of earlier this week it’s possible to convert Virgin America Elevate points into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio. This follows Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closing about a month ago. Points convert almost instantly, though the catch is that conversions are one-way — you can convert Virgin America Elevate points into Alaska Mileage Plan miles, but can’t convert Alaska miles into Virgin America points.

I’ve seen a countless number of comments from readers who feel screwed by this deal, though. Take this comment, for example:

“This is a bait and switch scam if you are Virgin Elevate Member. I converted my points today thinking I was getting a 30% bump for it, which I did when the points were converted to miles. However the devil is in the details. When I later checked out a flight I was looking at, I noticed this is where the scam is.”

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You Can Now Redeem Alaska Miles On Virgin America

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It’s a big day for Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America Elevate, as it’s now possible to convert your Virgin America Elevate points into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio (though a transfer in the other direction isn’t possible).

However, that’s not the only new development today.

It’s now also possible to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on Virgin America. This is an interesting opportunity, given that Virgin America Elevate is a revenue based program, meaning the number of points required for a redemption is based on how much a ticket would cost. Meanwhile Alaska Mileage Plan is a traditional program, meaning award availability comes at fixed costs.

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Almost Everyone Should Receive 10,000 Free Alaska Miles!

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Earlier I wrote about how Alaska seems to be awarding certain people with 10,000 free miles. When the miles were posted to accounts, the description read “SPECIAL SERVICES ELEVATE MEMBER OTO 10K BONUS.”

So it seems pretty clear that this is linked to Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America. Furthermore, the timing makes sense, given that you can now transfer your Virgin America points to Alaska Mileage Plan (though you may not want to, since as of now the transfers are one-way, as you can’t transfer from Alaska to Virgin America).

The problem with the 10,000 mile bonus is that we couldn’t actually figure out based on what criteria they were awarding the bonus. It seemed entirely random, and obviously it left a bad taste in some peoples’ mouths when they didn’t get the bonus, and others did. While I don’t share that sentiment (even though I didn’t get the bonus), nowadays airlines should expect just about all information will be shared due to the internet.

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You Can Now Transfer Your Virgin America Points To Alaska Miles

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Last month Alaska and Virgin announced the next phase of their merger, with mileage conversion and status matching starting as of January 9th. Virgin America Elevate points will convert into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio. Per Alaska’s website:

“On January 9, 2017, we will invite you to enroll in Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan, enabling access to book award travel on Alaska Airlines and Alaska Global Partners network to over 900 worldwide destinations. Plus, you’ll receive more detail on how you can convert your Elevate points to Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per Elevate point. And for elite-level Elevate members, Alaska Mileage Plan will automatically match your elite status!”

The transfer functionality went live a few hours ago, so you can now convert points from Elevate to Mileage Plan.

To start, go to this page, which will prompt you for your Virgin America Elevate credentials:

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Did You Get 10,000 Free Alaska Miles?

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As of later today (January 9, 2017), it will be possible for Virgin America Elevate members to link their accounts and match their status to Alaska Mileage Plan. This follows Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closing a few weeks ago. While we don’t yet know all the details of what the future combined loyalty program will look like (or the future combined airline, for that matter), this is certainly a step in the right direction.

However, leading up to this new linking opportunity, many Alaska Mileage Plan members are reporting 10,000 bonus miles appearing in their account with the description “SPECIAL SERVICES ELEVATE MEMBER OTO 10K BONUS.”

Unfortunately it’s not entirely clear what’s triggering this. It’s obviously somehow related to Virgin America Elevate based on the description, though beyond that it’s anyone’s guess.

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Alaska Airlines Introduces Free Inflight Messaging

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Alaska has just announced a very cool new permanent feature for customers (at least as of now it’s available through December 31, 2017). Effective immediately, Alaska will offer unlimited inflight messaging through Gogo wifi for all passengers. While you can continue to pay to use Gogo wifi, all customers can message for free through iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

You’ll be able to send messages and emojis, though can’t send pictures or videos. Obviously this only works in regions where Gogo wifi works, which excludes portion of flights to Mexico, Hawaii, Latin America, etc.

Per Alaska’s website, here’s how this new feature works:

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Last Chance To Buy Two Great Points Currencies At A Discount

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Buying points when they’re on sale can be one of the best ways to get a luxury vacation at a discount. I try to write about these opportunities when they’re available, and should point out that there are two great points sales ending this Saturday, December 31, 2016. So if you’ve been considering buying either of these points currencies, you’ll want to decide ASAP.

Here are the details:

At the moment Alaska is selling miles with up to a 40% bonus, which is an opportunity to buy miles for as little as ~2.11 cents each.

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Rationalizing How Many Starpoints To Transfer To Virgin America

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As I posted about yesterday, Starwood and Virgin America are cutting ties as of January 6, 2017. This has to do with Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America, and perhaps more specifically, with the fact that Virgin America Elevate points will convert into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio.

As it stands, Starpoints transfer to Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America Elevate at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. This presents a pretty cool arbitrage opportunity. Since Virgin America points will convert into Alaska miles at a 1:1.3 ratio, it means you can temporarily transfer Starpoints to Virgin America and then to Alaska, and get a 62.5% bonus in the end. In other words, 20,000 Starpoints will convert into 32,500 Alaska miles (when you account for the 5,000 point bonus, and then the 30% bonus on top of that).

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is trying to decide how many Starpoints I want to convert into Virgin America points in the next week, before this opportunity ends.

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America’s Best AvGeek Flights: The United Island Hopper And Alaska Milk Run

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There are many reasons I like to get on planes, including that I love to visit new places, I love to try new airlines, and I’m also just an aviation geek who loves being on planes. Regardless of where I’m going or what airplane I’m on, the wonder of flight is never lost on me. Aviation is an amazing thing.

As far as flights within the U.S. go, I think there are two routes in particular that only an aviation geek would ever voluntarily take from start to finish. I’m specifically talking about United’s island hopper and Alaska’s milk run. My goal is to fly on both of these in 2017. For those of you not familiar with either of them, I figured I’d cover the basics.

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SPG & Virgin America Are Cutting Ties As Of January 6, 2017

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This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. A couple of weeks ago Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closed, which has quite a few implications for frequent flyers on both airlines.

Last week we learned that Virgin America Elevate points will convert into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio, which seems pretty fair to me. This has opened up a pretty cool opportunity for those with Starwood Preferred Guest points:

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Alaska Mileage Plan Cuts Elite “Thank You” Gifts For 2016

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Alaska very much feels like a “hometown airline.” Despite their growth, they have a ridiculously loyal following from those in the Pacific Northwest, which I could never fully wrap my head around. However, their Mileage Plan program is fantastic, in terms of earning miles, redeeming miles, and elite benefits.

For several years Alaska has been sending out “thank you” gifts to MVP Gold members towards the end of the year. They did this in 2015, 2014, and 2013, where they had the choice between two Gold Guest Upgrades, two Board Room day passes, and two Gogo wifi passes.

In years prior to that, Alaska would send out cookies to elite members, so the above were gifts were the very nice replacement for that.

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