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Alaska miles on offer from 1.7 US cents each, but should you buy?

Alaska Mileage Plan is repeating its top 60% bonus miles bonus. Should you be buying in the current climate?

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

Alaska Air 737 (Alaska Air)

Most of our readers won’t be in the market for buying miles in these uncertain times during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s not stopped Alaska Airlines repeating its best ever mileage sale, offering up to 60% bonus for those purchasing or topping up their balance between now and 29th June 2020.

While a large amount of uncertainty remains over the travel recovery, including which airlines (and frequent flyer programmes) will survive this crisis and which won’t, this sale does offer you the opportunity to buy Alaska miles from 1.7 US cents each.

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The June 2020 offer

This is the third Alaska miles bonus offer since the coronavirus situation took hold, with a previous week-long bonus 40% sale and an up to 60% bonus sale already offered.

Remember even in the ‘good times’ – these miles are regularly on offer at 40-50% bonus levels.

Pro Tip: Never buy Alaska miles at full price, unless you need a small top-up quickly to achieve a specific redemption, or to urgently keep your existing balance alive if it is about to expire. These miles are almost always available on offer (there were seven purchase bonus offers in 2019 alone).

AStrans

Alaska Airlines typically tailors these promotions slightly depending on your customer profile, so you’ll need to log on to your Mileage Plan account to check how your individual bonus is structured – since not everyone always gets exactly the same deal.

60 Bonus 2

At the top end you’ll have a record 60% bonus (until recently, Alaska miles have only ever been sold at a maximum 50% bonus). There are also reports of 50% and 40% bonus levels being offered this time round.

Here’s a typical 60% deal:

  • 1,000 – 4,000 miles: No bonus (2.75 US ¢ / mile)
  • 5,000 – 39,000 miles: 40% bonus (1.96 US ¢ / mile)
  • 40,000 – 100,000 miles: 60% bonus (1.72 US ¢ / mile)

A 50% deal seems to be structured as follows:

  • 1,000 – 2,000 miles: No bonus (2.75 US ¢ / mile)
  • 3,000 – 29,000 miles: 40% bonus (1.96 US ¢ / mile)
  • 30,000 – 100,000 miles: 50% bonus (1.83 US ¢ / mile)
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Why buy Alaska miles?

In normal circumstances we’d recommend buying Alaska miles at 50% (or now 60%) bonus rates for excellent value First and Business Class award tickets with airlines like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

That’s because even if you don’t earn Alaska miles through other means (e.g. Kaligo hotel bookings, or crediting miles from paid Emirates / SIA bookings to the programme), the effective ‘fares’ you are paying for these redemptions are highly competitive even having only acquired your miles in one of these sales.

In many cases, taxes are low with no fuel surcharges levied and Alaska allows free stopovers for no additional miles on most itineraries.

Let’s look at some examples, with the effective cost shown based on buying all the miles you need for the booking.

JLtrans.png

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 50% 60%
Singapore to New York
First Class*
75,000
miles
$1,473 $1,375 $1,289
Singapore to New York
Business Class
65,000
miles
$1,276 $1,191 $1,117
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
25,000
miles
$491 $458 $430

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

Singapore to the USA in JAL First Class for 75,000 Alaska miles is one of the standout redemptions in the programme, and just in case you thought it wasn’t possible:

JAL F SINJFK

This itinerary would cost you just US$1,289 if you bought Alaska miles at a 60% bonus rate, though to be fair no one will be complaining much about spending US$1,375 or US$1,473 for the experience at the lower 50% and 40% bonuses respectively.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
JAL Boeing 777 Business Class from Singapore to Tokyo. (Photo: Melv_L – MACASR via Flickr)

While the first flight up to Tokyo is in JAL’s Business Class seat, you’ll be in First Class for the longer overnight flight to New York.

JL First Class (JAL)
JAL Boeing 777 First Class from Tokyo to New York. (Photo: JAL)

Better still, you can search and book JAL award tickets using Alaska miles wholly online, including availability view by month, no fuel surcharges are added so the taxes are low, and you can have a free stopover in Tokyo on this itinerary for no additional miles (just US$22 in additional taxes).

SQtrans small

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 50% 60%
Tokyo to Los Angeles
Business Class
80,000
miles
$1,571 $1,467 $1,375

There aren’t really any great value ways to use Alaska miles on Singapore Airlines, since the intra-Asia stopover ‘tricks’ were shut down in October 2019.

Perhaps the only decent value option is a Business Class ticket on one of the airline’s fifth freedom routes between Tokyo and Los Angeles, usually 92,000 KrisFlyer miles but available for 80,000 Alaska miles or the equivalent of US$1,375 with a 60% purchase bonus.

It’s not an incredible deal but personally we would probably rather buy the Alaska miles for this one and save the 92,000 KrisFlyer miles for a better value redemption, assuming we needed to fly this city pair in isolation.

CXtrans2.png

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 50% 60%
Singapore to Los Angeles
First Class*
70,000
miles
$1,375 $1,283 $1,203
Singapore to Los Angeles
Business Class
50,000
miles
$982 $917 $859
Sydney to New York
First Class*
80,000
miles
$1,571 $1,467 $1,375
Sydney to New York
Business Class
60,000
miles
$1,179 $1,100 $1,031
Hong Kong to London
Business Class
42,500
miles
$835 $779 $730
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
22,500
miles
$442 $413 $387

* Business Class to Hong Kong, then First Class to the USA

There are some great value ways to use Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific, including Singapore to the USA in Business Class for US$859 (if you buy at the 60% bonus rate).

Even Singapore to Tokyo or Seoul for example drops to US$387 in Business Class at a 60% bonus.

1A Boarding
Singapore to Los Angeles, including the Hong Kong to Los Angeles sector in Cathay Pacific’s excellent First Class, is only 70,000 Alaska miles. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Bear in mind though that Cathay Pacific awards using Alaska miles are not searchable or bookable online, so you’ll have to call to secure them. Using the British Airways Avios or American Airlines AAdvantage search engines to check award availability beforehand is usually accurate.

QFtrans.png

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 50% 60%
Sydney to Dallas
First Class
70,000
miles
$1,375 $1,283 $1,203
Sydney to Dallas
Business Class
55,000
miles
$1,080 $1,008 $945
Perth to Sydney
Business Class
20,000
miles
$393 $367 $344

If you’re based in Australia, using Alaska miles for coast-to-coast domestic flights in Business Class on Qantas, like Perth to Sydney or Perth to Melbourne at 20,000 miles each way, is great value. That’s equivalent to just US$344 when buying with a 60% bonus. Pick an Airbus A330 or Boeing 787 for the newest flat-bed seats.

It’s also worth checking out Australia to USA award pricing.

QF SYDDFW F

QF A380 J Bed (Qantas)
Qantas A380 Business Class. (Photo: Qantas)

Business Class on one of the world’s longest flights (the 16-hour mammoth from Sydney to Dallas) comes in at less than US$1,000 when buying miles at a 60% bonus.

KAtrans

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 50% 60%
Singapore to Chicago
Business Class
120,000
miles return
$2,357 $2,200 $2,063

Korean Air awards must be booked as a round-trip, however for 120,000 miles you can fly from Singapore to the USA and back in Business Class for US$2,063 at the 60% bonus rate.

Deadline: 29th June 2020

The offer closes at 11.59pm PST on Sunday 28th June 2020, which is 2.59pm on Monday 29th June 2020 Singapore time.

Alaska is strict about the offer deadline, so it will completely disappear at the end time – we’ve tested it to the minute in the past. We would therefore recommend making your purchase before approximately 2pm on 29th June in Singapore if you’re interested, just in case you have any issues or the payment doesn’t go through first time.

Click here to buy Alaska miles

Cancellation fees

Do note that Alaska Airlines charges a US$125 fee (around S$178 at the time of writing) for award ticket changes or cancellations, which is pretty steep. You’ll no doubt want to have relatively firm travel plans and dates before booking, in order to avoid this penalty.

Note: Alaska is currently offering change and cancellation fee waiver for award tickets booked between now and 30th June 2020, for travel booked through the end of May 2021, due to the coronavirus situation. Tickets must be changed or canceled prior to the departure of your original flight.

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All options

For those not familiar, here’s a recap of the airline and route options using Alaska Miles applicable to the majority of our readers in Asia-Pacific.

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
SQtrans small.png Asia – USA
Asia – South Pacific
Asia – India
Asia – Middle East
Asia – Europe
Asia – Africa
Intra-Asia

You can search and redeem online for all partners, except Cathay Pacific and LATAM, where it has to be done over the phone.

You can view the full Alaska miles award charts here.

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