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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Alaska Airlines announced a new miles sale this week, just in time to top up your account for the holidays.
Now through December 20, 2013, you can get up to a 35% bonus on a tiered basis when you buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
- Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles: get a 20% Bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 34,000 miles: get a 30% Bonus
- Buy 35000 – 40,000 miles: get a 35% Bonus
To get in on the bonus register your information here and decide how much you want to purchase. Miles cost $27.50 per 1,000 miles, plus a 7.5% tax recovery fee, which breaks down to just under 3 cents each.
If you wanted to make the most of the promotion, you could buy 40,000 Mileage Plan miles for $1,182.50 to end up with a total of 54,000 miles and resulting in a cost of 2.19 cents per mile. While this isn’t quite as good as the similar deal that Alaska ran in September for up to a 40% bonus, but is still a savings of about 27%.
I always try to avoid buying miles, and instead earn them through travel, shopping portals, or with a co-branded credit card like the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. But if you do fall short of the miles that you need for an upcoming trip, especially over the holidays when the amount that you need to redeem can escalate, then it could be worth it to take advantage of bonus offers like this before they go away.
See below for a table of the Alaska mileage redemption options:
One of the reasons I would consider flying Alaska is because of its number of flights from the US Mainland to Hawaii’s various islands. Not only are there tons of flights, but there are a lot of departure points from the West Coast, making it easier to find award seats if your plans are a bit flexible.
Also, even though it is not part of an alliance, Alaska has some handy partner airlines that can take you way beyond Hawaii and all the way to Dubai, the UK or Australia.
- American Airlines
- Air France
- British Airways
- Delta Air Lines
- Era Alaska
- Fiji Airways
As usual, the big question: Is it worth it? The simple answer is do the math for yourself. If you’ve got some extra Alaska miles sitting around and were considering them for a particular redemption that’s almost within reach, calculate whether the cash outlay for the extra miles is worth the value of the award you’d be getting. Also, remember this promo is just one way to score some extra Alaska miles fast. The airline is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest, so you can transfer points from your SPG account, and when you transfer in increments of 20,000, you automatically score a 5,000-mile bonus though transfers can take up to a week.
To put it in context, let’s say you wanted these miles to put towards an award on Emirates. Based on the purchase price of them at 2.19 cents apiece, it would be comparable to paying the following for tickets on Emirates from the east coast to Dubai roundtrip:
Economy: 85,000 miles – equivalent to $1,861.50, not worth it.
Business: 145,000 miles – equivalent to $3,175.50, still not great.
First: 200,000 miles – equivalent to $4,380, a big discount on what a first class ticket costs, but still a lot of money.
The thing is, if you’re looking for bonus miles, there are still quite a few other ways you can work it. Alaska is actually running several concurrent promotions at the moment highlighting their West Coast routes. Here are the most recent ones:
Double Elite Qualifying Miles From Seattle: On October 23, 2013, Alaska launched a promo offering double elite-qualifying miles on flights between Seattle and the cities of Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Oakland (OAK), San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC) and Santa Rosa (STS). To earn the bonus, register your Mileage Plan number prior to your first qualifying flight, and travel between October 22, 2013 and May 31, 2014. Flights must be marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines and must be non-stops to/from those cities. Flight miles must be credited to your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account in order to earn the double EQM’s, so no crediting your flights to partners American or Delta. All travel must be completed by May 31, 2014.
Up to 10,000 Bonus Miles From Seattle and Portland: Earn up to 10,000 bonus miles from Alaska Airlines when you fly 3 roundtrips (six flights in total) on any of the routes below, or fly 2 round trips (four flights in total) and earn 5,000 miles. The routes are between Seattle and Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Philadelphia; as well as between Portland and Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. You must register your Mileage Plan number before your first flight and fly nonstop on an Alaska operated and marketed flight. The offer is open for travel between August 20, 2013, and November 12, 2013.
Free Roundtrip Ticket For California Flyers: Alaska Airlines launched a pretty lucrative promo earlier this month for flyers from one of its West Coast hubs in San Diego. When you register and fly four qualifying non-stops between San Diego and any of 13 cities from now through November 20, 2013, you will get a discount code valid for a free roundtrip from San Diego – you will just be responsible for the taxes, starting at $19 depending on the destination. The 13 promo destinations are: Boise, Boston, Fresno, Honolulu, Kahului (Maui), Lihue (Kauai), Los Cabos, Monterey, Orlando, Portland, Puerto Vallarta, Santa Rosa, Seattle. Your account must be registered in California, and you must register for this promo prior to your first flight. Then to qualify, your roundtrips must be paid and the mileage credited to your Alaska MileagePlan account. The airline will email you with a discount code on or around December 20, 2013. The flights between San Diego and qualifying destinations must be non-stop.
So while if you’re close to an award level and just need a few extra miles to top up your account, you could consider getting in on this purchase bonus, but unless you have a specific upcoming redemption in mind where you know you’ll be getting your value back, I might not be so eager to jump on this one.
Know before you go.
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