Today, Alaska Mileage Plan announced that they’re offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles on their website (it’s targeted), which is available for purchase until 7 February 2018. Previously, they offered a targeted bonus ranging from 35% to 50% depending on your account.
More recently in December 2017, they had another offer of up to 40% bonus on purchased miles. The 40% bonus offered this time round, is their standard promotion. As always, unless you have an immediate redemption in mind, hoarding these miles might not be a great idea.
To trigger the 40% bonus this time around, you would need to purchase above 20,000 miles. The maximum miles you can buy pre-bonus is 60,000 miles. Factoring in the 40% bonus, you would be receiving a grand total of 84,000 Miles. Factoring in the tax recovery fee, it amounts to a cost of around ~2.11 US Cents per mile.
Usages of Alaska Mileage Plan
One of the more common uses of Alaska Mileage Plan is in redeeming a “return” flight to Tokyo Narita . Aaron has examined this previously so I won’t really delve into the technicalities of it. If you do it correctly, you’d be seeing a price quote as shown below.
The cost of a positioning flight to KUL(assuming you start your journey in KL) with baggage factored in (unless you’re only flying to Japan with a cabin bag) would be approximately S$80 on Scoot.
Possibility to try out 2 JAL hard products
Japan Airlines flies their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to Kuala Lumpur, means you’ll be getting their Apex suites on this flight. Although laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration, it offers direct aisle access for every seat, and immense privacy in the window seats. (Edit : This variant of Sky Suite doesn’t operate on KUL-NRT)
On the flight back to Singapore on their Boeing 777-200 aircraft, you’d be getting their other seat offering : (Edit : JAL operates their 787-9 with this version of Sky Suites to KUL)
Is it always worth it?
After factoring in the cost of the positioning flight to KL and the cost of purchasing the miles as well as taxes, the price for the entire journey would price out at around S$900. An excellent deal if you were to consider the fact that JAL charges a whole lot more to fly to Japan in Business Class if you were to buy a revenue ticket.
However, personally,I do not think it is entirely worth it to be going via this route all the time.
Let me draw your attention to Malaysia Airlines. Our divorced neighbouring airline based in KL. Malaysia Airlines are consistently offering decent fares ex-SIN to Tokyo Narita(as well as everywhere else).
A quick check for the same period as what I have gotten from the flight quote with Alaska gives me a cost of S$1,365.30. During their sales, fares can be as low as S$1,000 RT on MH.
(Edit : At time of writing, it was possible to select both ways of KUL NRT on JL metal, however as of now, the option has since been removed and an error message appears)
Note that at this price quoted above, you would be flying on JAL’s Boeing 787-9 in their
Apex Suites Sky Suites II on both segments from KUL-NRT (it’s a codeshare). Not that bad of a deal. The short hop to KL would be on MH’s 737-800s.
If you want to experience MH’s A330 Business Class, you can also select MH88/MH70 from KUL to NRT or MH89/MH71 from NRT to KUL (although in March they seem to be flying their A380s to Japan instead of the A330s on some days) . Note that the price will be the same. The seats on MH’s A330s are configured in a staggered layout, in some rows it will be a 1-2-1, and in others, a 1-2-2.
Value of miles earned on revenue fare offsets cost
If you were to credit the flight to Asia Miles, you would earn a total of 8,888 miles (huat ah!) and if you have a Marco Polo Club account, you’d earn 120 Status Credits from these flights.
Or you could credit these to British Airways Executive Club and earn a cool 360 Tier Points and 8,848 Avios. The Tier Points earned from this flight are already halfway to meeting the Tier Point requirement of BA Silver (oneworld Sapphire) and more than sufficient for BA Bronze (oneworld Ruby). In addition, the Avios earned would be sufficient for a one-way Economy flight intra-Europe.
Note that to receive Bronze and Silver status on BA, you would need 2 and 4 flights accordingly and they must be on flights marketed and sold by British Airways before your tier is updated. The nearest location to clock BA flights is to Sydney on BA16 and BA15.
Why do I say that sometimes it might not be worth it going via the Alaska route? Well, from the revenue fare, you’d be earning elite miles and status credits as well as redeemable miles from your flight on top of the miles earned from the credit card. If you were to go via the Alaska route, you will only be getting back some value from the miles earned from the purchase of the miles and taxes. I have used the earning rate of 4mpd based on the DBS Woman’s World Mastercard for my calculations below.
I’ve made a table below detailing the value you’d be receiving from both methods :
|Alaska Mileage Plan||Malaysia Airlines||Remarks|
|Cost of Flight( S$)||890||1365.50|
|Estimated Miles Earned from Credit Card (assuming 4mpd)||3,560||5,460|
|Miles earned from Flight||0||8,888||8,888 Miles if credited to Asia Miles, if credited to Avios, 8,848 Avios|
|Elite Miles/Status credits||0||120 MPC Credits/360TPs|
|Total Returns (in S$ value)||71.20||286.96|
After factoring in the value you have obtained from the miles earned via the revenue route, the effective fare paid would amount to approximately $1,078, very close to the amount paid when going through the Alaska method.
Also, another point to consider if you are redeeming via Mileageplan is that you have to be super flexible with your flight dates as availability can be scarce during peak periods.
Although I definitely agree that redeeming via Alaska Mileage Plan to get yourself to Tokyo is an excellent idea, given that you can do other routes such as SIN-NRT-BKK, paying a revenue fare would sometimes make more sense if the price difference isn’t that great. Especially so if you’re still able to fly on JAL metal when booking through Malaysia Airlines and earn yourself some elite miles/status credits in the meantime.