Cathay Pacific Deals Oneworld Other FFPs

Alaska Mileage Plan up to 50% buy miles bonus

Quality Business and First Class redemptions can be secured with Alaska miles. Another bonus is both ridiculous and welcome in equal measure.

2K.jpg

In case you were worried that there wouldn’t be an Alaska Mileage Plan bonus offer this month, let’s clarify two things:

  1. It’s now the 8th of the month.
  2. Another Alaska Mileage Plan bonus offer has been announced.

The good news is you may have been targeted for the top 50% bonus rate, making each mile 1.97 US cents.

Another bonus?!

Believe it or not, even we get surprised by the airlines sometimes. If you’re a regular reader it probably won’t have escaped your attention that Alaska Mileage Plan recently had a 40% buy miles bonus, and yes you’re remembering correctly – it only finished last week.

Less than three weeks before that promotion, another two-week long bonus had just ended.

This latest promotion runs until 22nd December in Singapore, meaning by that date Alaska will have been offering miles at a discount for 69 out of the previous 94 days (73% of the time).

Alaska Air 737 (Alaska Air)
(Photo: Alaska Airlines)

We’re all for bonuses and discounts, but frankly this is getting silly. We are now seriously considering publishing an article only when Alaska isn’t offering a bonus rate on purchased miles! In fact we notice The Points Guy now has a permanent page for Alaska ‘buy miles’ promotions – not a bad idea it seems.

It’s still a good deal

We digress a little by dwelling on the nonsensical frequency of the offer, let’s get down to business (pun intended). Alaska miles still represent good value at these high bonus rates, and 50% is the highest bonus they offer.

Finnair A350 Business Class (Finnair).jpg
Finnair is now an Alaska partner. (Photo: Finnair)

First and Business Class redemptions with Alaska’s partner airlines are the key here. If like us you’re based in Asia – think options like Cathay Pacific or JAL Business / First Class to the USA, Qantas from Sydney to Dallas in First Class on the A380, heck even Qantas flat-bed A330 domestic Business Class can be a steal with these miles.

We’ve outlined the great uses of Alaska miles to and from this region before, but here’s a recap of the options applicable to the majority of our readers.

Airline Routes
AAtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA, Caribbean & Mexico
Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
BAtrans.png India/South Asia – Canada/USA & Mexico
CXtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA
Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
India/South Asia – Canada/USA
Intra-Asia
Hong Kong – Africa, Australia/NZ, Europe, India/South Asia & Middle East
EKtrans2.png Asia – Canada/USA
Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
India/South Asia – Canada/USA
FJtrans.png Australia/NZ – USA
AYtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA, Europe & Mexico
India/South Asia – Canada/USA, Europe & Mexico
HUtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA & Mexico
Intra-China
JLtrans2 Asia – Canada/USA
Intra-Asia
KAtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA
Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
India/South Asia – Canada/USA
Korea – SE Asia
QFtrans.png Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
Intra-Australia

All of these can be searched and booked online via the Alaska Airlines portal, with the exception of Cathay Pacific awards where you’ll have to call Alaska Airlines to book. Ideally with Cathay you can use a program like British Airways Avios or American Airlines AAdvantage sites to search availability first before calling.

We’ve read varying accounts of what Cathay Pacific availability Alaska phone agents can and cannot see.

We generally find the Cathay availability shown on the BA Avios site to be accurate.

Many of the reports we read about are negative, but in our latest check at the end of October while trying to secure a Cathay First Class HKG-LHR redemption for next year with one available award seat showing on the BA site, the Alaska phone rep could see two First Class award seats on this flight.

Moral of the story – there is no set rule. It could be the same as you see online, it could be less or it could be more, but one thing is certain – no matter what you find online elsewhere you won’t know for sure until you call.

CX B77W Parked (Cathay Pacific).jpg
Cathay Pacific is the only airline in the Alaska scheme flying to or from Asia where you’ll have to call to confirm award availability. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

The JAL stopover ‘trick’

One major benefit of Alaska miles is that you can add a free stopover to your journey. This allows a fairly unique trick here in Asia using Japan Airlines to create a pseudo-return itinerary in Business Class for just 25,000 Alaska miles. We’ve written about it before, but here’s a recap on how it works.

What’s the JAL ‘stopover trick’?

JLtrans.png

An exceptional rate of 25,000 Alaska miles for a ‘return’ flight from Singapore to Japan in Business Class.

JAL787SkySuite
(Photo: Japan Airlines)

This takes advantage of the ability under the Alaska scheme to book free stopovers on one-way redemption tickets. It means you can create a ‘pseudo return’ itinerary for a very low miles rate by booking a redemption to a close-by city, with a stopover in a distant one.

The JAL trick is effectively booking Japan Airlines from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, with a stopover in Tokyo. Sounds like it shouldn’t be possible – but it is, and it’s incredible value at 25,000 Alaska miles in business class (the equivalent of 12,500 miles for each 7 hour sector).

JAL Stopover Map.jpg
(Source: greatcirclemap.com)

Other routings are also possible, you could decide to start your journey in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok for example and return non-stop to Singapore. Jakarta is also an option.

Generally speaking, JAL Business Class award availability through Alaska MP is also quite good.

The variety of aircraft types used on JAL flights in Asia means you’ll likely be able to try out their newest ‘Sky Suite III’ and ‘Sky Suite 787’ flat-bed products, not to mention renowned on-board service and cuisine.

There’s also a selection of oneworld lounges to visit depending on your routing and the time of day, so this is your chance to try out facilities like the Qantas Singapore Lounge, JAL’s Tokyo lounges or the Qatar / Cathay offerings in Bangkok. Something new if you’re used to flying the Singapore Airlines / Star Alliance network.

JALbooking2.jpg

In order to search and book such an itinerary on the Alaska Airlines website, select ‘all search options’ under the booking area, then select ‘multi-city’ and of course ensure the ‘use miles’ option is selected.

After that simply enter each leg separately (e.g. Singapore to Tokyo for the first flight, Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur on the second flight), select the dates you want (your stopover in Tokyo can be as long as you like), then search to check award availability.

Other good redemptions

Even if the JAL trick isn’t of interest to you – there are plenty other good uses of Alaska miles. Here are a few more ideas with comparison against the miles needed for the same routings with other frequent flyer programs:

Japan Airlines

AVIOStrans JALMBtrans AStrans
Singapore to New York
First Class*
200,000 85,000 75,000
Singapore to New York
Business Class
165,000 70,000 65,000

* Business Class Singapore to Tokyo, First Class Tokyo to New York

Cathay Pacific

AVIOStrans Asia AStrans
Singapore to Los Angeles
First Class
160,000 130,000 70,000
Singapore to Los Angeles
Business Class
135,000 85,000 50,000
Sydney to New York
First Class*
200,000 130,000 80,000
Sydney to New York
Business Class
165,000 85,000 60,000
Hong Kong to London
Business Class
90,000 65,000 42,500
Vancouver to New York
First Class
50,000 40,000 35,000

* Business Class Sydney to Hong Kong, First Class Hong Kong to New York

Korean Air

GAtrans KEskypasstrans AStrans
Singapore to Chicago
Business Class
200,000
(return)
150,000
(return)
120,000
(return)

Qantas

AVIOStrans QFF AStrans
Sydney to Dallas
First Class
200,000 168,000 70,000
Sydney to Dallas
Business Class
165,000 112,000 55,000
Perth to Sydney
Business Class
37,500 36,000 20,000
QF 789 J (Point Hacks)
Qantas flies its latest 1-2-1 Business Class seats on many long-haul and domestic flights. (Photo: Point Hacks)

Emirates

EKtrans2 EKtrans.png QFF AStrans
Singapore to New York
First Class
178,750 168,000 180,000
Singapore to New York
Business Class
131,250 112,000 105,000

Finnair

AVIOStrans Asia AStrans
Singapore to London
Business Class
105,000 70,000 60,000

The full partner award charts are also available to search on the Alaska Mileage Plan site.

Click here to buy Alaska miles

Don’t buy speculatively

Alaska miles aren’t for everybody – in our opinion you should not buy Alaska miles speculatively. Have a solid redemption plan in mind in the near future, or know exactly what you want to redeem now (having checked it’s available), as changes in both partner redemption relationships and valuations can occur.

The current offer

AStrans

There’s more than one offer doing the rounds this time, so you’ll need to log on to check what bonus you have been given. For me – it’s a 50% bonus at the top end, structured as follows:

  • 0 – 9,000 miles – no bonus (2.96 US ¢ / mile)
  • 10,000 – 19,000 miles – 20% bonus (2.46 US ¢ / mile)
  • 20,000 – 39,000 miles – 35% bonus (2.19 US ¢ / mile)
  • 40,000 – 60,000 miles – 50% bonus (1.97 US ¢ / mile)

For Eddie it’s 40% maximum bonus in this offer, with the following breakdown:

  • 0 – 9,000 miles – no bonus (2.96 US ¢ / mile)
  • 10,000 – 19,000 miles – 20% bonus (2.46 US ¢ / mile)
  • 20,000 – 29,000 miles – 35% bonus (2.27 US ¢ / mile)
  • 30,000 – 60,000 miles – 40% bonus (2.11 US ¢ / mile)

Note that those targeted for a 40% bonus appear to have a lower minimum threshold to achieve it (30,000 miles instead of 40,000).

Deadline: 22nd December

The offer closes at 11.59m PST on Friday 21st December 2018, which is 3.59pm on Saturday 22nd December 2018 Singapore time.

Anyone can now buy with a bonus

Alaska Airlines has removed their limitation that only accounts 10 days or older can buy miles. That means you can sign up for an Alaska Mileage Plan account at any time and see what miles purchase bonus you are entitled to right away. It may not be 50% of course, but it’s worth a try so sign up now if you don’t yet have an account.

It’s unlimited (nearly)

When you log on to the Alaska site and happily see your bonus miles purchase offer you’ll scroll down to buy the number you need.

You might automatically assume the highest level shown in the drop-down menu is the limit – it’s not.

You can buy an effectively unlimited volume of miles by repeating the purchases. You can only make a maximum of four miles purchases per card however, so you are technically limited by the number of credit cards you have.

1A Boarding
First Class on Cathay Pacific from Singapore to the USA for 70,000 miles is an excellent use of the Alaska scheme. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Which card to use

Those based in Singapore will likely want to achieve the maximum number of credit card miles when buying Alaska miles. If you do go ahead and buy, the transaction happens in US dollars through points.com.

Pointsdotcom

You can earn the most extra miles for the purchase transaction by using one of the following Singapore issued credit cards if you can:

Card Miles per S$1 Notes
BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard
(see our review)
5.0 5mpd on all overseas spend until 31st December 2018, with no cap.
DBS Women’s World Mastercard 4.0 4mpd on all online spend in a calendar month, capped at S$2,000.
UOB Visa Signature 4.0 4mpd on all overseas spend of at least S$1,000 in a statement period, capped at S$2,000.
Standard Chartered Visa Infinite
(see our review)
3.0 For non-SGD spend, provided total card spend (any currency) is S$2,000 or greater in the same statement cycle.
UOB PRVI Miles (see our review) 2.4 All non-SGD spend.
Citi PremierMiles (see our review) 2.4 All non-SGD spend (promo rate to 31st December 2018).
Citi Prestige (see our review) 2.4 All non-SGD spend (promo rate to 31st December 2018).
OCBC Voyage Visa
(see our review)
2.3 All non-SGD spend.

We also understand the Citi Rewards Visa or Mastercard earns at the 10x bonus rewards rates (4 miles per dollar) on points.com transactions, though as we haven’t tried this do be cautious and don’t scold us if the bonus is not credited!

Card Miles per S$1 Notes
Citi Rewards Visa / MasterCard
(see our review)
4.0 points.com transactions qualify for 10x Rewards Points (4mpd). Remember a monthly cap now applies.

When will Singapore Airlines flights be added?

There’s still no sign of the ability to use Alaska Miles on Singapore Airlines flights, the most recent addition was Finnair in August this year. We did think that once the schedule and award availability for the new non-stop Singapore – Seattle flight was loaded yesterday we might also see this functionality added, but that didn’t happen.

Seattle is Alaska Airlines’ hub and the new SIA route will depend heavily on connectivity between the two carriers. Hopefully an agreement is reached soon and we look forward to SIA award availability through Alaska Mileage Plan. We’ll let you know when it happens.

Summary

We love Alaska miles, we really do, but this 45-day long offer so soon after two back-to-back bonus rates were offered is honestly slightly laughable. If your miles are being sold at an effective discount about 75% of the time, the quoted price itself is false.

One thing’s for sure – you should never buy Alaska miles at full price. Heck you shouldn’t even buy them at anything less than 40% bonus. Why? Because an offer at least that good is inevitably just around the corner.

We used to laud the 50% bonus offers as something to jump on, given that it typically popped up once a year, but now we would honestly recommend only holding out for that bonus level given that we’ve seen it twice in the past few months.

As for whether to buy, our advice never changes. Have a plan to use these miles first. Alaska miles are useful and valuable (we wouldn’t write about them if they weren’t), and you can achieve excellent value from them in a variety of cases. That doesn’t mean they are immune from partner agreement changes and devaluations, so as always when buying miles – tread carefully.

Click here to buy Alaska miles

(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)

6 comments

  1. About Finnair awards, it is very difficult to find business awards from Singapore, only a few over 300 days and that only reaches Helsinki. If you want to go further to other European cities, it depends on availability from Helsinki to it. Even if you can find one, the cost is 120k miles + $100 at least for a return trip. Better availability from Bangkok, but with additional cost from Singapore to Bangkok. On the other hand, Finnair is offering business class trip to Europe from Singapore with a stopover in Helsinki from $3000 for next summer(only 4 days left). Alaska miles costs more than 2 cents per mile even with 50% bonus, the cash fare is very close to award price with significantly better availability, not mentioning the benefit you can get from miles and oneworld status points, which award ticket does not give.

  2. Thank you Andrew for sharing.

    Anyone tried (using the JAL trick and going via KUL-NRT-SIN) visiting Plaza Premium First and then Golden Lounge (Malaysia Airline) using JAL J ticket in Kuala Lumpur airport? Would you be able to visit 2 lounge with the J ticket or do you think Golden Lounge would not accept you since Plaza Premium First would stamp a chop on your JAL J ticket (heard they stamp on your ticket).

    side info: Plaza Premium First can be entered with Priority Pass and a fee, but I understand JAL J ticket grant you access for free.

    I was hopping to be able to try the food in Plaza Premium First and then hop over to Golden Lounge.

    Thank you all.

    1. Didn’t enter MH Lounge but used CX’s lounge instead during my last JAL trip. Would suggest you visit MH’s Lounge first, and then the Plaza Premium First lounge as the latter will stamp something on your boarding pass to indicate which lounge was used. Didn’t encounter that at CX Lounge.

Leave a Reply