It’s (incredibly) been almost a year since I last wrote about an Alaska Mileage Plan sale, but with borders now open, I figure it’s time to revisit a trick that was very popular pre-COVID: buying Alaska miles.
From now till 26 June 2022, 3.59 p.m SGT, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering a 50% bonus on miles purchases. At least that’s the bonus I received; different accounts may be targeted for different bonuses, so you need to login to check what yours is.
|Check your Mileage Plan offer|
The bonus structure varies from person to person. My 50% bonus was tiered like this:
- Buy 3,000-9,000 miles: 30% bonus (2.27 US cents/mile)
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles: 40% bonus (2.11 US cents/mile)
- Buy 20,000-100,000 miles: 50% bonus (1.97 US cents/mile)
Mileage Plan members can buy a maximum of 100,000 miles (pre-bonus) per transaction, and a maximum of 150,000 miles (also pre-bonus) per year. MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K members have no such cap.
However, since Mileage Plan tickets can be redeemed for anyone, there’s nothing stopping a family member from opening another account to buy miles and redeem them on your behalf.
Is it worth buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
Alaska Airlines joined oneworld on 1 March 2021, but has been slow to roll out award redemptions on partner airlines.
While the legacy sweet spots for Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines have been preserved so far, we’ve also seen very poor rates published for new partners like Qatar Airways, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian and Malaysia Airlines. SriLankan Airlines offers somewhat better value (40,000 miles in Business Class from Singapore to Colombo with no fuel surcharges), but it’s the exception rather than the rule.
Here’s some ideas for redeeming Alaska miles.
With Japan hopefully reopening to free and easy travel in the next few months, there’ll finally be an opportunity to redeem Alaska miles for Japan Airlines tickets once again.
Other sweet spots include 65,000/75,000 miles for a one-way Business/First Class award between Singapore and the USA.
Alaska Mileage Plan charges just 50,000/70,000 miles for a one-way Business/First Class award between Singapore and the USA on Cathay Pacific.
Alternatively, you can fly between Singapore and Tokyo for 22,500 miles on Cathay Pacific. Unlike the Japan Airlines option above, however, you’ll have to do a stopover in Hong Kong.
The bigger issue is that Cathay Pacific has very limited connectivity to Singapore at the moment, with only 3X flights scheduled for the whole of June. This improves to 3X weekly from July onwards, but still a far cry from the nine daily flights they operated to Singapore prior to COVID.
Note that Cathay Pacific awards cannot be booked on the Mileage Plan site. You’ll have to call up customer service to get it processed.
Alaska Mileage Plan has a wide variety of redemption partners, some of which may be useful for flying point to point outside of Singapore:
Other sweet spots you can consider include:
- 50,000 miles for a one-way Business Class award between Bangkok and the USA on Hainan Airlines
- 120,000 miles for a round-trip Business Class award between Singapore and Hawaii on Korean Air (one-way redemptions not allowed)
There are no fuel surcharges on Mileage Plan awards, except on British Airways, Hainan Airlines, and Icelandair.
One great thing about Alaska Mileage Plan is it no longer has any change or cancellation fees for award tickets, which gives you the option to lock in speculative awards, and change them as needed.
Should you need to cancel, you’ll get the full amount paid back, less a US$12.50 partner award booking fee (charged each way, i.e. US$25 for a round-trip booking).
When do Mileage Plan miles expire?
Mileage Plan adopts an activity-based expiry policy, where miles do not expire so long as you earn or redeem at least one mile in a 24 month period.
Buying miles counts as an earning activity that will extend the life of your entire balance.
What card should I use?
Purchases of Alaska Mileage Plan miles are processed by Points.com in USD (i.e. they won’t code as airline transactions). Here’s the best cards to maximize the miles earned on your purchase:
|4 mpd||Cap of S$1K per s. month|
|UOB Visa Signature|
|4 mpd||Min S$1K Max S$2K FCY spend per s. month|
|SCB Visa Infinite|
|3 mpd||Min spend S$2K per s. month|
|UOB PRVI Miles|
|2.4 mpd||No cap|
|S. Month= Statement Month | C. Month= Calendar Month|
I generally don’t advise you to use the DBS Woman’s World Card for Points.com purchases, as past data points have indicated there are issues with getting the bonus points credited.
Alaska’s latest Mileage Plan sale offers up to a 50% bonus, which could be useful for those planning upcoming premium cabin travel.
I’m hopeful that Japan Airlines award space will eventually improve once Japan reopens (and I mean a proper reopening, not this controlled tour group nonsense), but I wouldn’t advise you to buy miles speculatively in anticipation of that.