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 public sale with up to 50% bonus miles. I believe this isn’t targeted based on the small sample of people I’ve checked with, but feel free to report about the offer you got. You’ll need to buy miles from now till 20 May 2019 3 p.m SGT.
Here’s the breakdown of how the bonus tiers:
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles= 20% bonus (2.46 US cents per mile)
- Buy 20,000-39,000 miles= 35% bonus (2.19 US cents per mile)
- Buy 40,000-60,000 miles= 50% bonus (1.97 US cents per mile)
The maximum miles you can buy in a single transaction is 90,000 (60,000 base + 30,000 bonus). Alaska now caps the miles you can purchase in a year to 150,000 including bonuses*, but since you can redeem Mileage Plan tickets for anyone there’s nothing stopping you from opening another account to buy more miles.
*MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan members have no such cap
Should I buy Mileage Plan miles at a 50% bonus?
As long as you’re not buying miles speculatively, buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 50% bonus is an excellent 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 like Cathay Pacific and Korean Air
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$500 if you buy miles at 1.97 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. In the example below you fly from SIN-NRT, find your own way between NRT and KIX and then fly KIX-BKK, all in Business Class for 25,000 miles.
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 start in BKK because Hainan’s only flight to Singapore is to Haikou, which has no onward connections to the States.
You could also 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’s 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 (I’ve just confirmed this a few days ago)
- 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 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 1 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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