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Buy Alaska miles with a 50% bonus until 20 May

Unlock great value Business and First Class redemptions with airlines including Cathay Pacific, JAL and Qantas when you buy Alaska miles at their top bonus level by 20th May 2019

EXPIRED This article relates to an offer or promotion which has now expired.

Champagne 3 Windows

After a nail-biting 30 days without an Alaska Mileage Plan ‘buy miles’ bonus, the famine ended for us all on Wednesday as the airline rolled out the offer again, this time at its top rate with a 50% bonus for those stocking up on the largest amounts.

Last time Alaska offered a 50% bonus it was targeted to only some members, in November 2018.

The deal runs for a month this time, ending on 20th May 2019 in Singapore.

The current offer

AStrans

Log on to your Mileage Plan account to check how the bonus is structured as it sometimes differs from account to account, depending on your customer profile.

With the current offer though we have only seen one bonus structure offered, with purchases of 40,000 – 60,000 miles attracting the highest bonus rate of 50%.

May19 Offer.jpg

  • 1,000 – 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)
May19 Example.jpg
The lowest number of miles you can purchase to achieve the 50% bonus is 40,000

Offer ends 20th May

The offer closes at 11.59m PST on Sunday 19th May 2019, which is 2.59pm on Monday 20th May 2019 Singapore time.

The JAL stopover ‘trick’

Funny that Alaska should launch their top 50% buy miles bonus this week, since we’re actually on the JAL stopover ‘trick’ right now, as we write this article from the (rather dapper) executive club lounge at the beautiful Conrad Osaka having flown up on Wednesday night in JAL Business Class.

Conrad Club Lounge Entrance.jpg
Executive Lounge at the Conrad Osaka. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If the concept is new to you, or you need a refresher, essentially this is a ‘return’ JAL Business Class flight from Singapore to Japan for 25,000 Alaska miles plus around US$60 in taxes. Here’s 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.

For the particular trip we’re currently on we wanted to start in Osaka, so we commenced the journey in Bangkok as JAL doesn’t fly to Osaka directly from Singapore.

That meant taking a cheap Scoot flight SIN-BKK on Wednesday evening, then sampling the excellent and relatively new Qatar Airways Bangkok lounge for a few hours before taking the non-stop overnight BKK-KIX flight.

If you haven’t tried the new Qatar lounge in Bangkok, all we can say is “wow”. This is our new favourite lounge at the airport. Stay tuned for a review coming soon, in the meantime we have some photos on our Instagram.

For the return sector we’ll be heading back from Tokyo non-stop from Narita to Singapore. Total cost per person was 25,000 Alaska miles + US$60, in addition to the Scoot flight. We also had the cost of positioning between Osaka and Tokyo, but you wouldn’t need to do that if like most people you use the trick just for a Tokyo trip.

Top tip for domestic JAL flights in Japan, if you need them, is to use Avios from 4,500 points with zero taxes, see here for details.

Cathay Pacific First and Business Class

If the JAL stopover ‘trick’ doesn’t interest you, the next best way to use Alaska miles for Singapore-based flyers is in First or Business Class on 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

Even though the Alaska award chart shows that redeeming Europe flights on Cathay Pacific is only possible to or from Hong Kong, you can fly Singapore to Europe on Cathay using Alaska miles, but they will charge you for the Singapore – Hong Kong (Intra-Asia) and Hong Kong – Europe rates combined (22,500 + 42,500), making it a relatively poor deal at 65,000 miles in Business Class.

Both flights are combined into a single itinerary for you so it’s a simple option, but we think it’s better to position to Hong Kong with a low-cost airline then take the competitive Business Class rate with Alaska miles from there in our opinion.

Alternatively use Avios and position to Hong Kong on Cathay for 20,000 points in Business, they will also check you through for your onward Europe flight redeemed using Alaska miles despite separate itineraries, provided you have built in a 1hr+ connection time.

1A Boarding.jpg
If you’re still wondering whether Cathay Pacific First Class is a seat worth using Alaska miles for, take our advice – it is! Click here to read our full review of the product. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The only downside when using Alaska miles to book Cathay Pacific flights is that availability is not searchable online. You’ll have to search using another tool (we recommend using the British Airways Avios site), then call Alaska to book.

As we’ve mentioned before, there are varying accounts regarding 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.

Other good redemptions

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

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
Qantas 787 J (Qantas).jpg
Qantas flies its latest 1-2-1 Business Class seats on many long-haul and domestic flights. (Photo: Qantas)

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

Are Singapore Airlines awards coming?

Singapore Airlines is a recent Alaska Airlines partner, with redemptions on SIA flights using Alaska miles promised ‘soon’.

That hasn’t transpired yet, but InsideFlyer noticed earlier this month that certain award itineraries using Alaska miles were available including Singapore Airlines flights.

Inside Flyer SQ.jpg
Source: InsideFlyer

That seems to have been withdrawn as we could no longer replicate it, but it could be a sign that this functionality may be added soon.

Whether Singapore Airlines extends its long-haul Business and First Class cabin awards to Alaska members remains to be seen, currently these are only offered to KrisFlyer and Virgin Australia (Velocity) members.

Sign up to Alaska now for a bonus

Last year Alaska Airlines removed their limitation that only accounts 10 days or older were able to 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.

The exact bonus structure offered won’t be known until you register, but it’s worth a try so sign up now if you don’t yet have an account. Even if they don’t give you a very good bonus this time, you’ll be all set for the next one.

Miles purchased are limited to 150,000 per year

Assuming you don’t hold elite status in the Alaska Mileage Plan scheme (MVP, MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K), you are limited to 150,000 miles credited per calendar year from points.com (i.e. buying miles as in this promotion). That includes the applicable bonus, and any miles gifted to you through points.com.

If this restricts you and you book as a couple then one option is to have your partner open an Alaska account too, which would then allow you to buy up to 150,000 miles each per calendar year, if required.

Remember this only applies to miles credited by points.com, and you are still free to transfer miles into Alaska on top of that limit from hotel loyalty programs for example, and of course from eligible revenue flying.

Which card to use

Assuming like most of our readers you are based in Singapore, you’ll want to achieve the maximum number of credit card miles for the purchase itself when buying Alaska miles. If you do go ahead and buy, the transaction happens in US dollars (i.e. non-SGD) and is processed by 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
Card.png
DBS Women’s World Mastercard
(see our review)
4.0 4mpd on all online spend in a calendar month, capped at S$2,000.
Card.png
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.
Card.png
BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard
(see our review)
3.0 3mpd on all non-SGD spend, with no cap.
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.png
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-MC.png
UOB PRVI Miles (see our review)
2.4 All non-SGD spend.
Card.jpg
OCBC Voyage Visa
(see our review)
2.3 All non-SGD spend.
citi-premiermiles-new.jpg
Citi PremierMiles (see our review)
2.0 All non-SGD spend.
Final Card Image.jpg
Citi Prestige (see our review)
2.0 All non-SGD spend.

The Citi Rewards Visa or Mastercard should earn at the 10x bonus rewards rates (4 miles per dollar) on points.com (online) transactions, though as we haven’t tried this do be cautious and don’t scold us if the bonus is not credited! A monthly cap of S$1,000 applies for the bonus points.

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

Don’t buy speculatively

As we always say – Alaska miles aren’t for everybody. 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.

Summary

One thing’s certain – you should never buy Alaska miles at full price. You shouldn’t even buy them at anything less than 40% bonus, because frankly this is the usual offer. This top 50% bonus offer is historically the best around, previously appearing only once a year but lately appearing more often than that.

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

As for whether to buy at all, 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)

40 comments

      1. No problem, it definitely is possible. Remember to build in good contingency if you’re making a same day connection from Singapore.

    1. Yes it was. We’ve flown them before actually on BKK-NRT and we like them when flying as a couple. For solo travellers they are not so good obviously.

      Got the Sky Suite III 1-2-1 flat beds back to Singapore from Narita which will be better.

      We always find the service excellent on JAL which is a big plus even if you have the older seats.

      1. Thanks Andrew!

        Tried recently MH to KUL and MH were unwilling to interline as well. Guess just not my day since others were able to.

        Did anyone tried using this method to Sapporo chitose? I tried few permutations starting from kul and BKK but with no success.

        Thanks

      2. From what I understand you can never make the stopover trick work to include a domestic leg. Instead, you can book JAL Japan Explorer Pass for 10.8K yen one way (exlcud. taxes) in between your stopover.

    1. MH won’t interline if you’re flying SIN-KUL-NRT-SIN, but JAL will if you’re flying SIN-NRT-KUL-SIN with the last leg in MH. Done in multiple times.

      1. For your example of 40000+20000 I am getting 1122 instead of 1100. Not sure if that is because I am a new member. With taxes the difference is even bigger.

    1. BKK is:

      Shell Flat NEO (KIX, NGO, NRT)
      Sky Suite III (HND)

      KUL is:

      Sky Suite III (HND)

      You won’t find the Sky Suite 787 flying to this part of the world I believe, you’d have to take longer JAL 787 flights e.g. NRT-SYD

  1. Thanks Andrew, great advice!
    I can see that up to 60,000 points available for me with 30,000 extra bonus points added for $1774 with tax.
    Andrew Is there anything similar for North America residents? Like you have from Singapore to Japan? Can we fly to Asia?
    Any advice would be appreciated!
    Thanks

  2. Hi! Andrew
    I followed your advice for Flight to Tokyo.
    Outbound from KL & Inbound to Singapore.
    But it show 50000miles needed at checkout.
    Pls advice. Tks

    1. Make sure you are using the ‘Multi-City’ option and put both sectors in the ‘Departing flight’ routing (e.g. KUL-NRT, then HND-SIN on the next line, under ‘Connecting flight’).

      Do not put anything in the ‘Returning flight’ section.

      Let me know if you get it to work!

  3. Great! Andrew.
    It works. Thank you so much.
    Btw, I just buy the 50% bonus miles promo but my account still shows ZERO miles.
    Is there a downtime b4 it shows up in my account?
    Tks

      1. Hi! Andrew,
        Finally got my 60 000miles. The delay is due to the fact that I am a new account holder. They credited the miles on the 5th business day.
        Booked 2 business class tickets KUL-NRT-HDN-SIN with 50 000miles + Tax.
        Great! Buy.
        Tks a lot

      2. Great to hear you got the redemption. How long did it take from calling to get the miles as a new account holder?

        Would be great to know, to guide our readers in future. Thanks!

      3. Hi! Andrew
        I called about my miles on the 2nd business day. And miles in account on the 5th day.

  4. Hey Andrew, is it possible to get an answer to my question?

    Thanks Andrew, great advice!
    I can see that up to 60,000 points available for me with 30,000 extra bonus points added for $1774 with tax.
    Andrew Is there anything similar for North America residents? Like you have from Singapore to Japan? Can we fly to Asia?
    Any advice would be appreciated!
    Thanks

    1. Hi! Tiong,
      I did encounter error on my 1st purchase. Since the fund was only lock but not taken from my Visa, I made another purchase. 2nd purchased went well n I m all set to fly coming Sept.
      I believe the error was because I bought the miles immediately after setting up the account.

  5. Hi andrew good day. I have tried to explore the trick from Kul-Nrt and Hnd- Sin. But then i tried with few dates, the option always showed me Kul-Nrt is coach while Hnd to sin is business. Is this the standard or i need to pick other months that do offer both to and fro which is in business? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kenneth. Yes the ‘mixed cabin’ results when searching Alaska can be a pain.

      It’s trying to be helpful but we really just want to fly Business all the way!

      Unfortunately it comes down to availability (on KUL-NRT in your case) so the best way to find available dates / months if you are struggling to find Business is to search that sector in isolation for Business Class as a one-way award so you can determine which dates are available before doing the multi-city stopover trick method.

      Alternatively you can consider departing from Jakarta or Bangkok, or going straight to Tokyo from Singapore and returning via KL if that fixes the Business availability issue. Good luck!

      1. Dear Andrew,

        Appreciate the prompt reply given, yes i tried various month but still shows the same result.

        Thanks for the tip given on Jarkarta-Tokyo and Tokyo – Sin, this method worked as there are plenty of slots avaliable with both routes being business class.

        Thanks for the help given really! 🙂

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