As I originally posted about a couple of weeks ago, Alaska is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles through April 3, 2015.
The bonuses are tiered, meaning the more miles you buy, the bigger the bonus you get, as follows:
- Buy 5,000 – 9,000 miles: get a 10% Bonus
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles: get a 20% Bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles: get a 30% Bonus
- Buy 40,000 miles: get a 40% bonus
This promotion only comes around twice a year
If history is any indicator, Alaska offers a bonus on purchased miles four times per year. Two times per year they offer up to a 35% bonus on purchased miles, while two times per year they offer a 40% bonus on purchased miles. At least that’s what the trend has been as of late.
So while patterns do always change, I wouldn’t expect for it to be roughly six months before this promotion is offered again.
There’s no limit to how many miles you can buy
In my opinion, this is one of the things that makes Alaska’s promotions on purchased miles especially compelling. There’s no limit to how many points you can purchase, meaning you could literally buy a million miles if you wanted.
There are only two limitations:
- You can purchase a maximum of 40,000 miles per transaction, though you can make as many transactions as you’d like
- You can use the same credit card for at most four points.com transactions per 30 day period (they process Alaska mileage purchases)
A vast majority of airline loyalty programs limit how many points you can purchase per calendar year, so Alaska really is quite unique in not having such a limit.
Alaska miles have gotten tougher to redeem
There are lots of great uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles, and they remain one of my favorite mileage currencies out there, given that they have partnerships with several different airlines spanning the alliances.
Despite that, there’s no denying that a few of my favorite uses of Mileage Plan miles have become more difficult:
- Cathay Pacific now typically only releases one first class award seat in advance, so if you’re looking for more than one seat in advance, that’s tougher than ever before
- Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t have access to Emirates first class award space after March 28, 2015, and in some cases doesn’t have access to Emirates business class award space either; I hope that this is just temporary
Cathay Pacific business class is a great option to Asia and beyond
There are lots of new people in this hobby, and in many cases their goal is to find ways to get premium cabin travel for less. That’s my general travel philosophy, for what it’s worth. I don’t want to travel for “free,” but rather want to get as good of a value as possible on luxury travel.
If you’re looking to redeem miles for travel to Asia in business class, one of the very best options is Cathay Pacific:
- Cathay Pacific has a great business class product with reverse herringbone seats
- Cathay Pacific releases a ton of business class award availability in advance — often five seats per flight when the booking window opens
For example, looking in advance between New York and Hong Kong, you’ll see that on many dates every flight has five business class award seats:
The same is true in the other direction, from Hong Kong to New York:
Here’s why buying Alaska miles makes so much sense
The good news is that Alaska Mileage Plan partners with Cathay Pacific, and they have among the most lucrative redemption rates. Keep in mind that Alaska Mileage Plan allows stopovers on one-way award tickets. Nowadays most airlines don’t even allow stopovers on roundtrip award tickets, let alone on one-ways.
Alaska Mileage Plan also has among the most lucrative redemption rates of any program.
One-way business class between North America and Asia will cost you 50,000 miles (~$1,050).
One-way business class between North America and Australia/New Zealand will cost you 60,000 miles (~$1,260).
One-way business class between North American and Africa, India, or the Middle East, will cost you 62,500 miles (~$1,310).
Keep in mind that in all of the above cases you’re allowed a complimentary stopover in Hong Kong enroute to your final destination. So this is a great way to visit two continents on a single award.
If you have millions of miles spread across a variety of programs, is this how you should be funding Cathay Pacific business class travel? No.
But if you don’t have huge mileage balances or are looking to travel with a group of people, I don’t think there are many better values out there than booking Cathay Pacific business class through Alaska Mileage Plan. The fact that Alaska lets you buy as many miles as you’d like and also allows stopovers on one-way awards is really the icing on the cake.
In this case we’re talking about $2,000-2,600 for roundtrip business class to the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Australia, etc. That’s tough to beat!
So I do still think it can make a lot of sense to buy Alaska miles, even if it’s not for travel in Emirates first class.