The Alaska Mileage Plan bonus is back! You can now purchase miles with a bonus as high as 40% (the biggest bonus to date)! To see your bonus offer, log into your account here before February 22, 2019.
Alaska Mileage Plan miles are some of the most valuable frequent flyers points out there. Why is that? Well, Alaska has a unique bunch of award partners for which you can redeem your points. Most notably are Cathay Pacific, Qantas Airways, Japan Airlines, Emirates, Korean Airlines, Fiji Airways, LATAM Airlines and Hainan to name a few.
Purchasing miles from Alaska Mileage Plan (especially when there’s a bonus involved) can be a cheap way to experience business or first class for much cheaper than compared to paying for a cash fare in business or first.
Alaska Airlines sell their points throughout the year, and from time to time there’s a bonus promotion, which in tandem with favourable exchange rates makes for a rather good bargain.
Alaska Mileage plan allows you to buy 150,000 miles per calendar year which is a new restriction as of 25/01/2019. To get around this you could open multiple accounts or use family to book under your name.
Keep in mind your Alaska Mileage Plan needs to be active for 10 days before you can start buying points, so get onto that ASAP if you want to take advantage of the current promotion!
Current Alaska Miles Deal (November – December 2018)
Currently, you can purchase up to 84,000 Alaska Miles (40% bonus included) for $1,773.75
Keep in mind that the current promotion ends February 22. It appears that everyone this time receives a 40% bonus so there’s no ‘special’ targeting. The deal this time works in tiers with only purchases of 20k upwards receiving a 40% bonus.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Buy 20,000 — 60,000 miles = 40% bonus
Of course, if 84,000 Miles isn’t enough you can purchase a second lot with the same discount. There’s no limit to your account, but there is a limit of 4 per credit card. Also, keep in mind that the purchase will be charged in USD so it’s best to use a card that doesn’t attract FX fees (typically 3%). Personally, I used my BankWest World Mastercard for these kinds of purchases, or you can run it through a free debit card such as HSBC EGA with no fees.
Best Use Of Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
Japan Airlines 787 Business Class To Tokyo
This first example is by far the best value use of Alaska Miles but it won’t suit everyone. For only 25,000 miles + around $60 in taxes you can fly from Singapore to Tokyo and after a stopover (no restrictions) you can fly back to Kuala Lumpur. This is classed as a one way itinerary but since Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are so close together, it might as well be a return flight. 14h+ in Japan Airlines 787 business class; yes please!
Cathay Pacific Business Class Australia/New Zealand to Hong Kong
One of my favourite redemptions would be the business class flight from any Australian city (Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane) to Hong Kong on the A330 or A350 with the fantastic reverse herringbone seats.
- Cost: 30,000 Alaska Miles + taxes
- Price in USD: $633
How to Book Cathay Pacific With Alaska Miles
Keep in mind that Cathay Pacific award space is not available online via Alaska Airlines; therefore you need to use other tools to do your research. We recommend British Airways, American Airlines or Asia Miles award finder tools. Here are the basic steps:
- Create a British Airways Executive Club account
- Search for award space on British Airways/American Airlines/Asia Miles etc.
- Note down your desired flight numbers, dates and time
- Call Alaska Airlines on +1-800-252-7522
- Inform the agent you would like to book an award ticket on Cathay Pacific using your miles
- Provide the flight info which you should have noted down earlier
- Provide your passport and credit card details to complete the booking.
Note that not all the award space you will find on the One World partner search tools will match with the inventory Alaska Airlines has been allocated, flexible travel dates is the #1 benefit a point hacker can have.
Qantas Business Class Domestic
Qantas business class from east/west coast on the A330. Check out my review here.
You will be paying a quarter of the cash price Qantas is looking for!
- Cost: 20,000 Alaska Miles + Taxes
- Price in USD: $422.32
Qantas First Class
Another great redemption (if you can get it!) is Qantas first class from Australia to the U.S. in first class! You can check out my review of Qantas A380 first class cabin here.
- Cost: 70,000 Alaska Miles + taxes
- Price in USD: $1478.12
Qantas Business Class International
Naturally, if you can’t snag a seat in first, business class on Qantas isn’t all too bad, and for around 15k less than first, you can enjoy it from Australia to anywhere in the U.S.
- Cost: 55,000 Alaska Miles + taxes
- Price in USD: $1160.5
Fiji Airways Business Class
Volcano spotting in Hawaii? Why not fly there in comfort with Fiji Airways for a fraction of the cash cost! You can depart from either Australia or New Zealand for the same price. Naturally, you’re probably thinking “why not Fiji?”. Good question, but it isn’t allowed as a redemption from Australia with Alaska Miles.
- Cost: 45,000 Alaska Miles + taxes
- Price in USD: $949.5
Korean Airlines Business Class
Korean Airways from Australia to the U.S via South Korea in business is also an option. however, this is always priced as a return flight.
- Cost: 125,000 Alaska Miles + taxes
- Price is USD: $2637.5
Cathay Pacific First & Business (Europe)
If you’ve already positioned to Hong Kong, why not fly on to Europe in first class with Cathay Pacific? Check out my review here. Alternatively, “slum” it in business for a significant saving.
- Cost First Class: 70,000 Alaska Miles + taxes
- Price in USD: $1478.12
- Cost Business: 42,500 Alaska Miles + taxes
- Price in USD: $897.43
Japan Airlines First Class
Already in the U.S.? Why not try Japan Airlines in first class to Asia.
- Cost First Class: 70,000 Alaska Miles + taxes
- Price in USD: $1478.12
Those are just a few of the many options available. To maximise the journey you can even utilise the free stopover on a one-way ticket. If your end destination is in the same region, the mileage requirement will also be the same. For example, you could fly from the US to Hong Kong, stop over and continue onto Singapore for the same price (50,000 Miles). To figure out the best routes, you will have to look at the possible destinations each Alaska partner airline flies to.
Redeeming Alaska Miles for travel with Emirates
Unfortunately, Alaska Mileage Plan does not allow redemption on Emirates from Australia, but you can use your miles to redeem Emirates business and first from the U.S. to Dubai and onto other destinations in the Middle East. The cost price of these redemptions, however, received a considerable devaluation a few years ago so using Qantas points to fly Emirates is generally a better idea. To explore the prices and options, check out the award chart here.
Before you jump in, keep in mind that since Alaska Airlines isn’t part of an alliance; they set the rules on the routes you can redeem your miles on. This means that even though they partner with Qantas, it doesn’t mean you can simply book ANY route on the Qantas network. The same goes for other airlines. To see which routing options are available (other than my favourite routes listed above). You can visit the Alaska Airlines interactive award chart to see the options.
How about those pesky taxes?
Good news, unlike Qantas, Alaska Mileage Plan is very reasonable when it comes to charging taxes. Generally, there isn’t much you can do about government taxes and when it comes to carrier imposed taxes known as “fuel surcharges”, there’s no markup by Alaska Airlines so they won’t collect any extras for the majority of redemptions. The exception to this rule is British Airways and Iceland Air.
To get an accurate idea of how much taxes you will need to pay in addition to the points required, your best bet is the ITA Matrix https://matrix.itasoftware.com and search for the flight you want to redeem. Once you find it, click on the total price to get a breakdown of all the taxes added on.
Alaska is very reasonable when it comes to charging fees but here are a few you may want to keep in consideration when booking!
- $15 Phone booking fee. This is charged for awards that can’t be booked online such as Cathay Pacific or more complex routes. It’s worth it to try to get the agent to waive this fee because the award wasn’t bookable online… but it’s not a guarantee.
- $12.5 Partner Award ticket fee, mostly this is an unavoidable cost when booking flights which aren’t operated by Alaska Airlines themselves.
- $125 Change or Cancellation Fee. When it comes to Alaska Mileage Plan, changing or cancelling a ticket is essentially the same thing and will attract a $125 fee per ticket. Your taxes and miles will be refunded, so it’s not all bad news when worse comes to worse. However, if you’re cancelling 60 days before departure, Alaska Airlines will waive this fee. Same goes if you’re MVP Gold or 75k Elite with Alaska Mileage Plan.
Researching and booking
Finding award space and booking it is usually the trickiest part of this operation. I don’t find Alaska’s award finder all that reliable, so it’s best to double check with other carriers as well.
My favourites are British Airways, JAL Mileage Bank or Asia Miles.
Alaska Mileage Plan In Conclusion
It’s best to buy miles if and when you have a redemption in mind. Alaska Miles credit to your account instantly, so there’s no waiting around hoping the flights you found don’t disappear.
Overall Alaska Mileage Plan offers some fantastic prices if you want to enjoy first or business class at a fraction of the cash price so make sure you register for a free account here and see if you’re eligible for a 40% bonus!