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.
Mileage Plan runs regular sales throughout the year which give you a bonus when you buy miles- perfect if you’ve got travel plans and want to buy premium cabin tickets for less. The bonus normally maxes out at 40%, although people are very occasionally targeted for 50%.
Alaska has just launched a flash sale and from now till 20 Mar 2019 2:59pm SGT, you can buy Mileage Plan miles at up to a 40% bonus.
Here’s the breakdown of how the bonus tiers:
- Buy 1,000- 9,000 miles, no bonus
- Buy 10,000 miles or more- get a 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). From this year, Alaska has imposed a purchase cap on the number of miles you can purchase. If you are a non-elite Alaska Mileage Plan member, the maximum number of miles you can purchase a year is 150,000 including bonus miles.
Should I buy Mileage Plan miles at a 40% bonus?
As long as you’re not buying miles speculatively, buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 40% bonus is a good price.
Mileage Plan is one of my favourite FFPs because you can…
- Get a free stopover, even on one-way awards (which allows you to fly “almost” round-trip Business Class to Japan for just under US$600)
- Get access to unique partners that you wouldn’t normally be able to access in Singapore, like Hainan Airlines, Icelandair and Fiji Airways
- Get great value first and business class award redemptions out of Singapore with certain airlines
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 under US$530 if you buy miles at 2.11 US cents each. Even after you factor in the ~US$60 of taxes and the one-way ticket to or from KUL, you’re still looking at an extremely cheap “round trip” business class journey.
You’re not limited to just flying to Tokyo- as we explain during Alternative Frequent Flyer programs, you can even do a destination/origin open jaw as shown below for 25,000 miles in business class.
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 Hong Kong to Europe at 42,500/70,000 miles each way for business/first class (you can’t start from Singapore if you’re flying to Europe)
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).
What card should I use?
Alaska Mileage Plan purchases are processed by Points.com in USD, so here are the cards I’d use
- UOB Visa Signature- 4.0 mpd, min S$1K max S$2K of foreign currency spending in a statement period
- Citibank Rewards Visa or Citibank Rewards Mastercard– 4.0 mpd, max S$1K a month
- DBS Woman’s World Card- 4.0 mpd, but requires that you write in to DBS to get the bonus 7X credited (3X, or 1.2 mpd will be awarded as base points)
- BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard- 3.0 mpd, no cap
- Standard Chartered Visa Infinite– 3.0 mpd, minimum S$2K spending in a statement period
Other important things to note
Alaska charges a US$125 fee for changes or cancellations, regardless of how far away you are from departure. Alaska Mileage Plan miles do not expire so long as you credit or redeem at least one mile every 24 months.
Some people have reported issues with purchasing miles if their Mileage Plan account is new. It used to be that your account had to be at least 10 days old to buy miles, but I get irregular reports as to whether this rule is actually enforced. An email to customer service may sort out the problem, but if the transaction fails you won’t get charged anyway.
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