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. This bonus normally maxes out at 40%, although there are occasional 50% offers too.
Alaska has just launched a flash sale which runs from now till 1 July 3 p.m SGT. This time, they’re doing something a bit different. Instead of a bonus, they’re offering up to a 30% discount. Different people may get targeted for different offers so be sure to log into your account and check what you have.
Here’s the breakdown of how the discount tiers (different people will have different tiers):
- Buy 1,000-9,000 miles= No discount
- Buy 10,000+ miles= 30% discount
Now, this is the first time I remember Mileage Plan doing a discount rather than a bonus, so it’s important we see how this compares with historical sales.
|At 40% Bonus||At 30% Discount||At 50% Bonus|
|Cost Per Mile||2.11 US cents||2.07 US cents||1.97 US cents|
You can see that a 30% discount is falls somewhere between a 40% and 50% bonus.
The maximum miles you can buy in a single transaction is 60,000. 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 30% discount?
As long as you’re not buying miles speculatively, buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 30% bonus is an excellent price (albeit not the lowest possible).
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
- Avoid fuel surcharges on redemptions
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 on JAL, 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.
Japan Airlines B772 Business Class, the type you might get from SIN-HND
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.
Other useful Mileage Plan awards on JAL include Singapore to North America (75K miles in First Class, 65K in Business one-way).
You can also redeem great value Cathay Pacific awards at 50,000/70,000 Mileage Plan miles each way for Business/First class between Singapore and the USA. Alternatively, 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- or rather, you can but you’ll be charged both a Singapore to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Europe award which makes this poor value)
Note that you cannot book Cathay Pacific awards online through Alaska’s website 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 (noted in the comments that you may be able to find 2-stop options to the States from Singapore).
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)
Alaska’s full list of redemption partners includes:
With the exception of Cathay Pacific and LATAM, all of the above partners can be booked online (do note that the Alaska website is currently having issues booking awards on Icelandair and Korean Air).
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
- DBS Woman’s World Card- 4.0 mpd, capped at $2K per month, 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
When it comes to Points.com purchases, there are some who may run into issues using a Singapore-issued card. I can’t quite explain why this happens, because some people buy without any issues and others never seem to be able to get their transactions through. Your best bet is to use an Alaska Mileage Plan account that is at least 10 days old, and try multiple cards if your transaction doesn’t go through the first time.
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.
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