Buying miles can totally be worth it. You could, for example, use them to get first class tickets: With Cathay Pacific, you could use the bought miles to fly oneway in first class from Europe to Hong Kong for €1,149.
Currently, Alaska Airlines is not part of any alliance, but it plans to join the Oneworld alliance in the summer of 2021. It is still unknown, what consequences that will have for the mileage redemption options.
This sale is valid until June 29th, 2020 at 08:59 o’clock. During this time period you can buy miles with a bonus of up to 60%:
Not all members will get the same offer – some get 50%, other sadly only get 40%.
- 3,000 – 29,000 miles: 40% bonus
- 30,000 – 100,000 miles: 50% bonus
- 10,000 – 39,000 miles: 40% bonus
- 40,000 – 100,000 miles: 60% bonus
You can buy up to 150,000 points per calendar year.
- 50% bonus: 100,000 miles + 50,000 bonus miles = 150,000 miles for US$2,750 (~€2,429) = 1.83 USD-cents / mile
- 60% bonus: 100,000 miles + 60,000 bonus miles = 160,000 miles for US$2,750 (~€2,429) = 1,72 USD-cents / mile
While it used to be the case that you could only use US or Canadian credit cards for this sale, this barrier seems to have been lifted. It is now also possible to pay with European credit cards.
What you Need to Know About Mileage Plan Redemptions
- Purchase Limit: You can purchase up to 150,000 miles per calendar year.
- No alliance, but many partners: Alaska Airlines is not a member of any alliance. Alaska does, however, have many partner airlines on various continents, e.g. Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Condor, JAL, Icelandair, Fiji Airways, Aer Lingus…
- Many partner airlines only bookable over the phone: Many partner airlines (Cathay Pacific, Emirates…) can only be booked by calling Mileage Plan over the phone at +1-800-252-7522 (Hint: use Skype). This also adds a $15 telephone reservation fee + a $12,50 partner award ticket fee.
- Fuel surcharge will (mostly) not be charged: If you’ve used your miles at a program such as Miles&More, you’ll know the problem: You’ll be charged a huge fuel surcharge, that often makes award tickets more expensive than the regular price (especially in economy class). Alaska Airlines generally does not charge a fuel surcharge, even if you fly with other airlines, which is a big relief. There are two exceptions: If you’re flying with British Airways ($150 – $1,000) or Icelandair ($150 – $300), they will charge this surcharge.
- Free stopover possible: Mileage plan is (still) one of the few frequent flyer programs that allows you to add free stopovers on your award flights. This means that you could, for instance, fly to an Asian destination with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong and add a stay of various days in Hong Kong.
- Not all routes are available: Sadly not all routes of the partner airlines are available for miles redemption. You can, for instance, fly Emirates from North America to Europe and back, but not from Europe to the Middle East or to Asia.
Mileage plan is transparent on this issue, showing all redeemable routes in this tool.
- $125 cancellation fee: You can cancel Mileage Plan award flights for a moderate fee of $125. You’ll get back your miles and all fees & taxes that weren’t charged directly by Mileage Plan.
Using Miles Sensibly
Cathay Pacific first class
First class flights are obviously particularly interesting for redeeming the bought miles. You could, for example, buy Cathay Pacific oneway first class flights in Asia for 27,500 miles. The only available route, however, is Hong Kong – Beijing.
You can also fly from Europe to Hong Kong, also with Cathay Pacific in first class, for 70,000 miles.
This flight would cost you, with the 60% bonus, roughly US$1,203 (~€1,063) + less than $100 for taxes and fees = roughly €1,149.
Apart from Asia, you can also book routes from Europe to North America, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Mexico.
A good trick to check availability before calling the hotline is to look for flights through a British Airways Executive Club account (for Oneworld airlines). If you see that the flight is available there, it should (sadly not necessarily) be also bookable with Mileage Plan miles. To be completely sure, you would have to check over the phone. It’s always better to call Mileage Plan before spending money on miles that you then don’t get to use.
Mileage Plan is a very attractive frequent flyer program! This is not only due to the possibility to earn miles without having to worry about the typical alliances, but also due to the options for miles redemptions. Especially through miles purchases, you can quite easily benefit from lucrative redemptions.
As always, we also have to warn you! Frequent flyer programs can change anytime and usually, those changes will only bring disadvantages! Up until 2016, Mileage Plan used to be an extremely good option to fly in Emirates’ first class cheaply. From one day to another the number of miles needed was increased by up to 100%. A one-way flight in Emirates’ first class between the USA and Europe now costs 180,000 miles instead of 100,000.
This is why it is always best to spend the bought miles as quickly as possible and not to buy them simply to have them lying around. If you currently don’t have any use for them, simply wait for the next sale.
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