Alaska Increases Cost To Purchase Miles

Filed Under: Alaska

Alaska Mileage Plan is one of my favorite programs to buy miles from. They often have promotions on purchased miles, and they have lucrative partner redemption rates, and even allow stopovers on most one-way awards. It’s one of my all around favorite frequent flyer programs.

Well, if you’re someone who ever buys Alaska miles, it’s worth noting that they’ve just (mildly) increased the cost to do so.

Alaska increases cost to buy miles by 2%

With the introduction of their latest promotion on purchased miles, Alaska seems to have slightly increased the cost to purchase miles.

Historically Alaska Mileage Plan has charged 2.75 cents per purchased mile, plus a 7.5% federal excise tax. Now Alaska appears to be charging 2.805 cents per purchased mile, plus a 7.5% federal excise tax. This means Alaska has increased the cost to purchase Mileage Plan miles by 2%.

To do a direct comparison, previously if you purchased 60,000 miles with a 40% bonus, you’d pay $1,773.75.

Now those same number of miles would cost $1,809.23.

Alaska should be making their promotions more lucrative

Ultimately a 2% price hike for buying miles doesn’t seem like it will change the value proposition for many on buying Alaska miles.

However, bigger picture it sure seems to me like it’s time for Alaska to make buying miles more lucrative, rather than less lucrative.

There are lots of things to love about Alaska Mileage Plan, though there’s no denying that over the years the program has become less lucrative on the redemption side. This is perhaps partly through no fault of Alaska, but rather due to their partnerships:

Alaska devalued Emirates first class redemptions a few years ago

I’m sure Alaska is still doing fine selling miles, though I doubt it’s the cash cow it once was. For example, in 2015 the airline generated an incremental $34 million from selling miles compared to the previous year. Yes, that was the increase in selling miles year-over-year.

The point is, I think it’s time for Alaska to improve the value proposition of selling miles. It seems that won’t come in the form of them reducing the cost to buy miles, but maybe rather than the usual 40-50% bonus, we can start to see some 55%+ bonuses, eventually?

Cathay Pacific business class is still a great use of Alaska miles

Bottom line

A 2% increase to the cost of buying Alaska miles isn’t really a huge deal, though I do think it gets at a bigger issue. In my opinion it’s time for Alaska to improve the value proposition of their mileage sales.

The number of good uses of Alaska miles has been reduced lately. It’s largely not Alaska’s fault, as they’ve lost some partnerships against their will, and some partners have also added restrictions on award redemptions.

Still, as members that leaves us with fewer good ways to redeem miles than in the past…

(Tip of the hat to Frequent Flyer Bonuses)

Comments
  1. If you’re willing to plan 330 days ahead I find Alaska miles to be the best in the game for Asia traveling

  2. The key to using miles efficiently is flexibility. There are many reasonable uses for Alaska miles if you are flexible.

  3. Just purchased 55k miles the other day for a one way ticket from LAX to BNE in J. Only came in around 1200 USD with the bonus they were offering at the time. Considering paid fares were 5000 USD+ RT, it was a great deal. Still my favorite FF program. Wish it were easier for me to earn.

  4. Some of us who are elite on Alaska are really frustrated at the recent lack of award availability. Our rdms are often costing us more than what Alaska is selling them for, and the dilution due to the sale of miles seems a bit unfair to those who spend a lot of money with Alaska for airfare.

    Additionally, Alaska seems to be pricing some partner awards at a level that makes them less attractive to miles purchasers. Emirates and Singapore pricing makes the decision to buy miles less desirable, but also makes it more expensive for loyal customers too.

  5. That or they jacked up prices because a bunch of travel hackers figured out you could book SQ J to Europe for 25k (or SQ F for 35k) from South Asia by connecting in the European airport and throwing away the return. They’ll help defray some program costs and cash they need to send SQ this way.

    Oh look, award programs understand arbitrage too, not just travel hackers. How about that.

  6. In addition to the devals listed in the article AS (and AA) currently have no access to BA J or F awards to/from most of the US. I think I may have seen something from BOS but not sure at this point. At least west coast BA J/F awards on AS or AA are DOA right now and maybe all of US. Other partners JL, CX, and BA still have access.

  7. I think you got jipped! I bought today and the cost was the same $1,773.75:

    Pending POINTS ALASKA MILES $1,773.75

  8. Are you sure about this?
    ON my purchase miles menu, the max amount allowed per transaction 60k miles comes out to be Total $1,773.75 USD after taxes and fees.

  9. i dont think so. it sucks for AS flyers who are earning less valuable miles if they try to sell per miles at a lower cost.

  10. Alaska is useless for North America to Europe are useless. Lots of “mixed class” tickets where the leg from the US to Europe is in economy and the leg from London to Paris is in European “business class.”

    And let’s not bring up surcharges. Time to end the charade and value Alaskan points at 1.2 cents, not 1.7.

  11. Agree with Lucky re the value proposition of Alaska MP. It’s not the cost of their partner ‘stock’ that’s at issue, it’s the quality, and maybe quantity. Gone are the days you could fairly easily pick up a F ticket on QF from Australia to LAX/DFW, or even a C for that matter. What’s happened there Alaska?
    Secondly, there’s the con of having a multiplicity of so-called mixed-cabin awards. The unwary will find themselves paying for a full F award (for example) on a mixed cabin award where the F component will maybe be 10% of the whole ticket, never the other way around.
    Lastly, that little item of chicanery allows them to pad out a single available seat with multiple variations giving a superficial (inaccurate) impression that there is a lot of stock on sale.
    Rather like a shopkeeper who stacks his/her street-front window with a display of empty boxes. Makes next to nothing look real good!

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