Alaska’s award winter sale — good deal?


Alaska is advertising a winter award sale. This sale is valid for award tickets booked at between November 15 and December 13, 2012. Travel on the following routes and dates is eligible:

Award tickets between the mainland and Hawaii usually cost 20,000 miles one-way, while award tickets within the lower 48 usually cost 12,500 miles one-way. So this promotion represents roundtrip savings of 7,000-8,000 miles.

Award availability on these routes is quite good at the discounted levels, which isn’t surprising given that it’s the off season and the Hawaii routes are only out of their secondary California cities (flights to Hawaii out of Seattle and Portland aren’t eligible for this promotion). For example, here’s the award availability in January between Oakland and Maui:

Even so, this really isn’t all that great of a deal for a few reasons.

First of all, British Airways is an Alaska Airlines partner, and their normal pricing between the West Coast and Hawaii is just 12,500 Avios one-way, so you’re paying fewer miles through them than you do through Alaska’s promotional pricing (and British Airways partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest). For the routes between Portland and Las Vegas/San Diego, British Airways usually just charges 7,500 Avios one-way. Again, a much better deal, especially since Alaska miles are generally considered to be more valuable than British Airways miles.

Even more than the ability to redeem Avios, though, the fact is that fares are usually really reasonable in these markets. For example, I just searched for one-way tickets from all of Alaska’s California cities to all of Alaska’s Hawaii cities, and here are the cheapest one-way fares:

So with one-way fares starting at just $156 between California and Hawaii it’s tough to justify using miles, especially since you’d earn miles on a paid ticket and could also upgrade.

Similarly, one-way fares from Las Vegas to Portland start at just $98 all-in:

Just my two cents, but aside from very rare circumstances I don’t see this promotion being very useful, given that there are very few redemptions that net you over 1.5 cents per mile. That being said, the best use of miles is whatever makes you happy, so as long as you got something memorable out of them, well, that’s what counts most.

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