If you’re still a stranger to the concept of how useful the (slightly obscure) Alaska Airlines miles are for Singapore points collectors, you’ve not been paying enough attention to our site lately!
Frankly this is one of the best ‘independent’ miles balances to hold at the moment, provided that is you’re likely to do one of the following soon:
- Redeem a ‘return’ Singapore to Japan flight in business class for an exceptional rate.
- Fly a long-haul premium cabin on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines starting in Singapore (or another Asian city).
- Fly Qantas business or first class from Australia to the USA.
- Fly Emirates business class from Asia to the USA.
Why you may ask? Well you’ll be pleased to know we’re not about to repeat a bunch of recent analysis – you can find out exactly why in our article here where we looked in detail at how you can get value from the program, especially with the JAL intra-Asia stopover ‘trick’.
Suffice to say our latest Alaska redemption was a Bangkok to Tokyo flight in business with a 3-day stopover followed by a Tokyo to Singapore flight also in business class, for a total of 25,000 miles plus US$59.20.
Sure, we have to get to Bangkok in the first place, but that’s a nice excuse to check out the new Qatar lounge there before the JAL flight. Also we prefer to ‘position’ ourselves at the beginning of a trip, and then return direct to Singapore at the end. Just remember if you are going to do this to build in adequate contingency to get to the start point in good time.
It’s not just those airlines of course – Alaska partners with 18 airlines around the world on which you can earn, but more importantly redeem your miles.
First thing to note is that some lucky people are targeted for a 50% miles bonus while everyone appears to be eligible for the 40% bonus. Log in to your Mileage Plan account to find out which applies to you. I got offered the 40% bonus, which is structured as follows:
- For 1 – 9,000 miles: 2.75 US cents/mile (no bonus)
- For 10,000 – 19,000 miles: 2.46 US cents/mile (20% bonus)
- For 20,000 – 29,000 miles: 2.27 US cents/mile (30% bonus)
- For 30,000 miles+: 2.11 US cents/mile (40% bonus)
That means if you go for the 30,000 miles+ offer you’re paying around 2.82 cents per mile (SGD), the equivalent of about S$705 for the above JAL Tokyo redemption, which would also set you back about S$80 in taxes.
As you may recall from our article last week, Alaska will be applying their change and cancellation fee of US$125 for all award bookings made on or after 5th June 2018.
Previously changes were free up to 60 days prior to travel, meaning you could lock in future redemptions without needing to be 100% certain that the date would work for you, provided you remembered to ‘tidy up’ the booking at least 2 months before.
This change in itself doesn’t change the good value available in the scheme, like 50,000 mile business class redemptions on Cathay Pacific from Singapore to Los Angeles, but it does make the program a bit less flexible so bear that in mind before buying.
- Offer runs until 3rd July 2018.
- You can buy up to 60,000 miles per transaction (before the bonus is applied, so that would be 84,000 in total with the 40% on top).
- The number of transactions you can make is unlimited, so you can effectively buy as many miles as you want (or need).
- You’ll need to have held a Mileage Plan account for 10 days to be able to buy Alaska miles. There’s no harm in opening a free account now as you can always decide later whether you wish to take advantage of the current miles purchase offer.
A Cheaper Method
We mentioned this in our last overview but if you’re an SPG or Marriott Rewards member, SPG Starpoints convert 1:1 into Alaska miles (Marriott members will have to transfer their points into SPG first to take advantage). SPG also provide a 5,000 mile bonus for every block of 20,000 points converted to frequent flyer miles, so 20,000 Starpoints will get you 25,000 Alaska miles (exactly the amount needed to redeem the JAL Tokyo routing we mentioned above).
You can currently buy SPG points at a 35% discount, which means US$455 will get you 20,000, meaning you can then convert into 25,000 Alaska miles. That brings the cost of the JAL BKK-HND / HND-SIN business routing down to only S$610 plus taxes.
The SPG offer expires on 31st May so there’s less than a week to act if you want to go down that route to acquire Alaska Miles. Be aware however there’s a 30,000 annual limit for buying Starpoints so if you’ve already hit that during this calendar year you won’t be able to buy again.
Not for everyone, Alaska miles are great but you should have a solid plan to use them before buying speculatively in our opinion. If you do have a good use for them though, and there are many, this is a good deal provided you’ve already maxed out on buying SPG points this year.
Remember the 10-day account age rule (though that doesn’t apply if you transfer miles into Alaska from SPG) and of course if you’re interested remember the deadline – 3rd July 2018.
(Cover Photo: Alaska Airlines)