Mileage Plan is the frequent flyer program of Alaska Airlines, and a very powerful tool to get discounted business/first class flights if you know how to use it properly.
From now till 9 April 2018, Mileage Plan is running a sale which allows you to pick up miles at up to a 40% discount to the usual price.
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles: 20% bonus (2.46 US cents each including tax)
- Buy 20,000-29,000 miles: 30% bonus (2.27 US cents each including tax)
- Buy 30,000 miles or more: 40% bonus (2.11 US cents each including tax)
The maximum miles you can buy in a single transaction is 84,000 (60,000 base + 24,000 bonus). However, there is no limit on the number of miles you can buy in a year, so you’re free to make multiple transactions.
Should I buy Mileage Plan miles at a 40% discount?
40% is the highest publicly available offer that Mileage Plan miles go on sale. Occasionally, some people are targeted for 50% discounts but that has yet to happen to me. As with all mile sales, my advice is not to buy speculatively, but to first identify that the award space that you want is available, then buy and book.
Just yesterday I wrote that you could buy SPG Points and convert them to Mileage Plan miles, and assuming you did them in blocks of 20,000 you’d be buying Mileage Plan miles at the equivalent of 1.82 US cents per mile (because every 20,000 SPG points= 25,000 Mileage Plan miles).
However, you’re limited to buying 30,000 SPG Points in a year, so when you’ve exhausted that avenue, buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles outright is your next best option (you could also credit your SQ flights to Mileage Plan, but won’t work if you’re trying to requalify for elite status with Krisflyer)
What do I do with them?
Mileage Plan’s key strength is the sheer variety of options you have for premium cabin redemptions.
Remember that for a mere 25,000 Mileage Plan Miles you can do a “round trip” journey from Singapore to Tokyo in business class, which works out to US$528 if you buy miles at 2.11 US cents each. There’ll be a further ~US$60 of taxes on top of that, but you’re still looking at a sub US$600 “round trip” business class journey, which is excellent value in my books.
You can also redeem great value Cathay Pacific awards at 50,000/70,000 Mileage Plan miles each way for business/first class from Singapore to the USA. Or you could do Singapore to Europe at 42,500/70,000 miles each way for business/first class (edit: some people have pointed out the Mileage Plan says this applies from Hong Kong, so you might want to check first if this can be booked).
Note that you cannot book Cathay Pacific awards online and will need to call up Mileage Plan customer service to get this done. You should be able to use the British Airways award search engine to check what space is available on CX business and first before calling up Mileage Plan- have a read of that tutorial here.
You could redeem Hainan Airlines business class awards to the USA at 50,000 Mileage Plan miles in business class (but you’d need to position yourself to Bangkok first because they don’t serve Singapore).
You could redeem Korean Airlines business class awards from Singapore to the USA at 120,000 miles round trip (one-ways are not allowed)
Other important things to note
Mileage Plan awards can be changed/cancelled for free regardless of which carrier you book up till 60 days before departure. Beyond that, there’s a US$125 fee for changes/cancellations.
Some people have reported issues with purchasing miles if their Mileage Plan account is new. These usually get sorted out with an email to customer service, but occasionally the transaction fails and your credit card is not charged. I really don’t know what causes this, but for what it’s worth I haven’t had any issues.
Alaska Mileage Plan purchases are processed by Points.com, so you should use the UOB Visa Signature assuming you spend at least $1,000 of foreign currency transactions in the current statement period, or the Citibank Rewards card (either Visa or Mastercard will work).
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