Until 5 October, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is offering an up to 50% bonus when purchasing miles, which is the most generous it (occasionally) offers but it is a targeted promotion, so log in your account to see if you’re eligible.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the few ways of purchasing miles cheaply to then redeem on partner airlines like Qantas and Cathay Pacific, and can be useful for cheaper Business Class travel on Qantas to the US and domestically.
One unique feature of Mileage Plan points purchases compared to some other frequent flyer programs is that you can buy an unlimited amount of points, as long as you complete a maximum of four transactions per card.
That means it is possible to fly Cathay Pacific or Qantas to Asia, the US or beyond in Business or First Class for a lot cheaper than regular cash fares.
Note: for the past couple of months, Mileage Plan members have had trouble booking Emirates Business and First Class awards showing on the Alaska website, and they are not able to book these awards over the phone either, so our advice is to not rely on buying miles to redeem for Emirates awards for the time being.
Remember Alaska accounts need to be around 10 days old to be able to buy miles, so sign up for one in advance if you like the look of this deal.
With the current promo, you can purchase a total of 90,000 Mileage Plan miles (including the bonus) for $1773.75 USD, equating to 1.97 USD cents per mile.
In the last promotion in May-July, Point Hacks NZ Editor Daniel received the highest offer, and scooped it again this time around too:
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles = 35% bonus
- Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles = 50% bonus
The purchase of miles is stackable, so you can buy as many chunks of miles (plus the bonus) as you need.
Note though there is a limit of four transactions in 30 days on the same credit card which is applied from points.com who processes the transaction, so use a different card number for more transactions, but with your same Mileage Plan account, and you should be fine.
Also note that buying Alaska miles does not code as travel spend on a credit card.
Example uses of Mileage Plan Miles for New Zealand Travellers
These are some prime redemption opportunities for cheap business class travel from New Zealand with Mileage Plan miles awards:
|Example itinerary||Cost of miles in USD when maximising current promotion|
|Cathay Pacific: 30,000 miles one way from New Zealand to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific Business Class||$591|
|Fiji Airways: 45,000 miles one way from New Zealand to Hawaii in Fiji Airways Business Class||$886.5|
|Fiji Airways: 55,000 miles one way from New Zealand to the USA in Fiji Airways Business Class||$1083.5|
|Qantas: 55,000 miles one way from New Zealand to the USA in Qantas Business Class||$1083.5|
|Cathay Pacific: 60,000 miles one way from New Zealand to the USA in Cathay Pacific Business Class||$1182|
|Korean Air: 125,000 miles RETURN (no one-ways) from New Zealand to the USA in Korean Air Business Class||$2462.5|
- These costs don’t include airline taxes for this route applied by Alaska
- The costs above are in USD and based on the current promotion with a best case cost at the highest tier.
- The costs assumes you maximise the promotion and buy chunks of the maximum amount of miles, redeeming strategically to get the most value.
For more prices, check out the Mileage Plan award chart menu here.
As many have found on previous posts (just read the comments), it’s an easy winner to take advantage of for long haul Business and First Class travel on Alaska Airlines partners such as Cathay Pacific, to Europe and the USA. You can also get great value out of longer intra-Australia redemptions in Business Class too on Qantas.
While the NZD:USD exchange rate slide does seem to have plateaued for the moment, its current level does make overseas miles purchases more expensive than previously – which in turn makes the advice for ‘don’t buy miles unless you have a plan to redeem’ even more pertinent.
Guide to making the most of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan ‘buy miles’ promotions for cheap Business Class and First Class travel on Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and others
This guide is republished each time the offer comes back again with the latest detail, and the comments on this post carry on over so you can get a sense of the most frequently considered questions about the deal.
Keeping an eye on the rhythm of mileage purchase offers can help you be more informed about when to buy. Alaska Airlines maximum bonus is often 40%, however we’ve seen 50% a couple of times now.
- August-October 2017: up to 50% bonus (targeted)
- May-July 2017: up to 50% bonus (targeted)
- February/March 2017: up to 40% bonus
- January 2017: up to 40% bonus (potentially targeted)
- November 2016: up to 40% bonus
- August 2016: up to 50% bonus (targeted)
- May 2016: up to 50% bonus
- February/March 2016: up to 40% bonus
- November/December 2015: up to 50% bonus, targeted
- August/September 2015: 40% bonus
- July/August 2015: 35% bonus
- March 2015: 40% bonus
- November/December 2014: 35% bonus
- September/October 2014: 40% bonus
- May 2014: 35% bonus
- March 2014: 40% bonus
- December 2013: 35% bonus
- September 2013: 40% bonus
About Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program is one of the most flexible of the US frequent flyer programs out there, given their partnership with both American Airlines and Delta for mileage earn, of course along with, Alaska Airlines themselves who service the West Coast, Hawaii and over to New York as well.
If you find yourself flying on a range of carriers in the US, banking your miles to Mileage Plan is a fairly savvy strategy.
Outside of the airlines mentioned above, the real opportunity for us in New Zealand & Australia is to redeem Mileage Plan miles for travel on Qantas, Cathay Pacific or Fiji Airways. In full, Mileage Plan partners are:
- American Airlines
- Air France
- British Airways
- Era Alaska
- Fiji Airways
- Korea Air
Points redemption opportunities from New Zealand & Australia
The best starting point is the award chart for the South Pacific region on the Alaska website which details the costs for miles use on Qantas, Fiji Airways (previously Air Pacific) and Cathay Pacific. From this page, you can use the navigation on the left hand side to look at costs for other regions too.
Alaska Airlines is a bit spotty at allowing / documenting award redemptions and costs for travel outside of North America. In some cases it’s allowed, in others it’s not. If the award chart doesn’t show your route it’s probably not going to be allowed.
And if the booking engine does not yield a result for a search, you’ll need to call Alaska via Skype or similar to confirm availability, and try and research or book over the phone.
Can you add stopovers to an award?
One stopover in an intermediate city is allowed for one way awards, so book your return as two one-ways and you can get stopovers in both directions.
A stopover is where you can break one ticket into two or more flights across different days by stopping in a city that you would fly to anyway along the way. This is only valid where Alaska shows the cost between two regions on an award chart, which then creates a stopover opportunity possible on that routing.
For example, a stopover would be possible on Cathay Pacific from New Zealand to the US via Hong Kong – you’d be able to break the trip free of charge in Hong Kong, when booking a one way award to the US from New Zealand. The same would also apply to flights with Emirates, Fiji Airways, Korea Air, and Qantas.
Opportunities for travel on Qantas
The Qantas award chart to the US for Alaska MileagePlan looks like this:
MileagePlan also has an all intra-Australia travel award chart that I haven’t featured here due to its irrelevance for Kiwis. General miles required though all one price – 12.5k miles one way in Economy, 20k miles one way in Business, and return at twice the cost. Unfortunately it’s not possible to redeem MileagePlus miles for a New Zealand to Australia award on Qantas.
Opportunities for travel on Cathay Pacific
The Cathay Pacific award chart to the US looks like this:
A one way Premium Economy ticket routing through Hong Kong to the US comes in at 47.5k miles.
Alaska do publish mileage costs for travel on Cathay Pacific outside of the US, and you can net a one way Business Class ticket between New Zealand and Hong Kong for a ridiculously cheap 30,000 miles.
You could also redeem Mileage Plan miles for travel in Cathay’s new Business Class
Opportunities for travel on Emirates
The Alaska Airlines Emirates award chart allows for New Zealand – US redemptions, routed through Dubai.
Here’s the New Zealand to US Emirates Mileage Plan award chart:
Opportunities for travel on Fiji Airways
You can fly Fiji Airways Business Class from Auckland to the US with a stopover in Fiji for only 55k miles – while this is the same as Qantas, at least you’ll be flying in the right direction, and Fiji is arguably a nicer place to stay for a few nights than Sydney or Melbourne!
Looking to do an island hop? You can have a stopover in Fiji and then head onwards to Hawaii for 45k miles.
Opportunities for travel on American Airlines
American Airlines fly daily direct flights between Auckland and Los Angeles. Their award chart is below:
Not particularly good value when you consider that Business Class on Cathay Pacific will give you a stopover in Hong Kong, and then fly you direct to numerous US cities from there, including Chicago and New York – for 20k miles less. American Airlines might have some value for those flying to a more obscure US location that the other airlines don’t fly to.
Opportunities for travel on Korean Air
Fancy a stopover in Seoul? Providing you’re happy to redeem miles for a return trip, you can fly from Auckland via South Korea to the US for only 5,000 miles more than a return trip via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.
Taxes and fees
An example of the fees charged for booking a Qantas business award from Auckland to Los Angeles via Melbourne return:
$166.56 USD isn’t too problematic. A US$25 fee is included and payable per person for each award ticket to Alaska as well; I believe this is $12.50 for one way and $25 for return – this isn’t going to break the bank.
Generally surcharges on Alaska redemptions are very reasonable compared to Asia Miles, Qantas and other programs we are used to here.
Research and Booking techniques
You can search Alaska Airlines partner availability on their own website, however some partners require a call to Alaska directly to research and book. Once again, awardnexus.com is my preferred place to research. Having said that, you can usually research award availability with the partner directly, e.g. via Qantas Frequent Flyer, and then use that info to then book with Alaska as it’s generally the same award seat inventory used between the airlines.
Cathay Pacific availability is notoriously flaky to confirm through many online sources – such as searching through qantas.com or britishairways.com. Even Cathay’s own website shows incorrect availability for external partners, as they make more seats available to their own Asia Miles members. Cathay Pacific flights are also only available to be booked via the Alaska Airlines phone reservations team.
The best way to get a view on accurate space online is using the JAL website, by signing up for a membership of JAL Mileage Bank or through awardnexus. Alternatively calling Mileage Plan directly should do the trick.
You can’t put tickets on hold with Alaska and then purchase the miles and get them ticketed – unlike for American Airlines. However miles usually credit very quickly so assuming you have researched availability in advance, have checked with Alaska over the phone, you should be able to go ahead and buy miles and then call up again shortly after to book the ticket (assuming of course no one else grabs it in the meantime).
I rarely buy miles to hold and use at a later date without planned travel. However, for tickets I know I want to buy, with specific dates and routes in mind, I would definitely research cost and availability through Mileage Plan as this is a great lower cost option for securing Business and First Class redemptions on a range of familiar carriers.