Through December 20, 2013, Alaska is offering up to a 35% bonus on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles. The bonuses are tiered, meaning the more miles you buy, the bigger the bonus you get, as follows:

  • 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

Alaska-Mileage-Plan-Miles

The standard rate to purchase Alaska Mileage Plan miles is 2.75 cents each, plus a 7.5% tax recovery fee. That means if you max out the promotion you can purchase 54,000 Mileage Plan miles for $1,182.50, which is a cost of ~2.19 cents per mile.

Alaska-Mileage-Plan-Miles1

For what it’s worth, Alaska ran a slightly better version of the promotion in September, offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of miles.

But this deal can still be totally worthwhile. What’s cool about Alaska is that they don’t limit the number of miles you can purchase per account per calendar year or per promotion, so you can more or less purchase as many miles as you’d like. They cap each transaction at 40,000 miles, but you can purchase up to that number as often as you’d like. The only restriction is with points.com, which doesn’t let you use the same credit card for more than four mileage purchases per 30 day period.

Typically when miles are for sale at a rate of over two cents each I’d give it a pass, but Alaska is an exception under certain circumstances, in my opinion.

Alaska actually made their miles even more valuable this year by adding Emirates as a redemption partner, and by not only allowing one-way redemptions at half the cost of a roundtrip, but also allowing a stopover on a one-way award, making them one of the only airlines with such a generous policy.

For example, you can redeem 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for one-way travel in Cathay Pacific first class from the US to Africa, India, the Middle East, and all of Asia. That means you could fly something like San Francisco > Hong Kong > Johannesburg in first class, with a stopover in Hong Kong for as long as you’d like. Being able to purchase enough miles to book that for ~$1,500 is a bargain, in my opinion.

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class
Cathay Pacific first class

Similarly, using their partner Emirates, you can redeem 100,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for one-way travel in Emirates first class from the US to Europe, Asia, or Africa. Again, you could have a stopover in Dubai for as long as you’d like. That means you can potentially book two Emirates A380 first class flights for that price, like Los Angeles to Dubai (the longest A380 flight in the world when it launches next month) and Dubai to Bangkok. Purchasing enough miles for something like that for just $2,200 is also a bargain.

Emirates-A380-First-Class
Emirates A380 first class

Lastly, it’s worth noting that since mileage purchases are processed through points.com, the purchase of miles wouldn’t count as airfare for the purposes of credit card spend.

Bottom line

While this promotion probably isn’t for everyone, if you’re someone that doesn’t have huge mileage balances and is looking for a great way to purchase discounted premium cabin tickets, this promotion is pretty tough to beat. That’s especially true thanks to the ability to purchase an unlimited number of miles through the promotion. Cathay Pacific and Emirates are among my favorite airlines in the world, and first class on them doesn’t get much cheaper than through this promotion.

  1. November 6th, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    happy said,

    How much does it cost for one-way business award from Hong Kong to Europe?

  2. November 6th, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    lucky said,

    @ happy — For travel on Cathay Pacific they charge 42,500 miles one-way.

  3. November 6th, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    happy said,

    @lucky, Sorry, I should be more specific. If I am travelling with Emirates from Hong Kong to Europe with a stop-over in Dubai. Will that still be 42,500?

  4. November 6th, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    lucky said,

    @ happy — Unfortunately it’s not possible to redeem Alaska miles for travel on Emirates between Europe and Asia.

  5. November 6th, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Steven S said,

    Up until the United massive devaluation, I’d jump on this. I moved Marriott points to Alaska and purchased at the 40%, trying to build my account for enough miles for NYC-HKG-SYD on Cathay. The UA move has shaken my confidence! My Mom is 100 and my mother-in-law is 98 and my wife is nervous about such a long trip while we’re still blessed with their presence. 54,000 more would pay for Business Class and still time to add (like with Starwood transfers) to get First (one of my most memorable trips ever was Cathay First last January). Have to give this one some more thought.

  6. November 6th, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    John said,

    Those are great redemption rates on Cathay and emirates….but is availability at those levels pretty rare?

  7. November 6th, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Matt said,

    Can you use this promo multiple times?

  8. November 6th, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Lantean said,

    @Steven S

    I could not agree more. After United miles became practically worthless overnight there is no way I am putting my hard earned cash into any of these programs unless I can redeem the same day… and even then I’d think twice about it.

  9. November 6th, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    lucky said,

    @ John — Yes, availability is generally quite good for both carriers.

  10. November 6th, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Matt — Yes, you can buy miles as many times as you’d like.

  11. November 6th, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Flyer said,

    Is that possible to stopover at Paris then to Tokyo/Hong Kong in either CX/ emirates Business? Thanks!

  12. November 6th, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Flyer said,

    After United massive devaluation, I am start looking another program.
    I am not familiar with Alaska mileage plan. Can I book CX online via Alaska website? Or I have to call to make a booking? thanks!

  13. November 6th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Flyer — No, it’s not possible to do that unfortunately. The one downside to Alaska’s program is that they don’t let you mix partner airlines on a single award. You can fly Alaska Airlines to the gateway city, but other than that you have to fly a single partner airline the whole way.

    For booking Cathay Pacific you have to call — it’s one of the few partners that isn’t bookable online.

  14. November 6th, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    NG said,

    @lukcy – do you know whether i can book the tickets which originates from HK? It seems that i can’t do it online.

  15. November 6th, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    lucky said,

    @ NG — You sure can. If you’re looking at Cathay Pacific tickets, the issue is that they’re not bookable through Alaska’s website — you have to call.

  16. November 7th, 2013 at 12:07 am

    NG said,

    @lucky – Thanks for your reply! However, if I wanna book EK from HKG to DXB, that’s not doable right? Not a valid routing? or I have to call? Appreciate if you can help as I am new to Alaska.

  17. November 7th, 2013 at 12:11 am

    lucky said,

    @ NG — Correct, you can only fly between regions in which they publish an award chart. Here are the award charts they publish out of Asia:
    http://www.alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/earn-use-miles/award-chart-asia.aspx

  18. November 7th, 2013 at 12:46 am

    George said,

    Approx. $2200 for LAX-DXB, DXB-Europe in Emirates First is about as good as you’re gonna get. But how often do sales like this happen? I’m interested, but would prefer to not pull the trigger for another couple months.

  19. November 7th, 2013 at 12:49 am

    lucky said,

    @ George — Historically they seem to run a similar promotion 2-3 times per year.

  20. November 7th, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Kristjan Kask said,

    Hi Lucky
    Can i use Cathay between Europe – Dps?

  21. November 7th, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Marshall said,

    Lucky:

    You can get a lower per mile rate by buying miles when booking a ticket on AA. Buy the miles for 1.9 cents per mile, then cancel the ticket within 24 hours.

  22. November 7th, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Marshall said,

    Learned this at recent Chicago seminar. Worth going to!

  23. November 7th, 2013 at 2:46 am

    bkings said,

    @ lucky

    Only allow one carrier for the whole trip? I remember it gives me AF+KLM combination when I searched flight from Europe to Toronto.

  24. November 7th, 2013 at 2:49 am

    bkings said,

    Hi, all,

    I am also new to this program. I saw all the reward charts are based on the North Amercia and other regions. Does it mean I cannot redeem a trip like HKG-LHR?

  25. November 7th, 2013 at 6:05 am

    A. S. said,

    Alaska’s Mileage Plan has always been a tease for me, personally. They have some great deals, but because I live in Brazil they’re pretty useless to me. All awards are between North America and the area in question. So from South America I can only go to North America. Pretty lame, if you ask me, but sadly nobody’s asking! ;)

  26. November 7th, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Terry said,

    Hi Lucky,

    I wonder how a generous blogger like you make money – offering advice so freely! :-)

    Anyway, I have a question, and I guess the answer is very likely a “no”. Can I use the award miles to travel from outside the U.S. (like Asia) to Europe or the U.S.

  27. November 7th, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Mike S. said,

    “That means you can potentially book two Emirates A380 first class flights for that price, like Los Angeles to Dubai (the longest A380 flight in the world when it launches next month) and Dubai to Bangkok. Purchasing enough miles for something like that for just $2,200 is also a bargain.”

    ———–

    sort of like the old ex-CMB fare but in reverse …

  28. November 7th, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Mike S. said,

    Marshall: is this like the USDM or UA miles multiplier option when you buy a flexible fare where you buy extra miles a separate transaction – I didnt know AA offered that?

  29. November 7th, 2013 at 9:22 am

    lucky said,

    @ Kristjan Kask – I think you’d have to set it up as two awards: one between Europe and Hong Kong, and the other between Hong Kong and Bali, but it should be possible. Cathay is one of the few carriers where Alaska allows intra-region travel, and you can see that chart here: http://www.alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/earn-use-miles/award-chart-asia.aspx#cathay

  30. November 7th, 2013 at 9:23 am

    lucky said,

    @ bkings – That’s correct, as Air France/KLM are considered one airline.

  31. November 7th, 2013 at 9:25 am

    lucky said,

    @ bkings – You can redeem Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong and London. That chart is here: http://www.alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/earn-use-miles/award-chart-europe.aspx

  32. November 7th, 2013 at 9:27 am

    lucky said,

    @ Terry – You can travel to or from the US, so you could travel from Asia to the US. The only option between Asia and Europe would be on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong.

  33. November 7th, 2013 at 9:32 am

    lucky said,

    @ Marshall – Thanks for attending my seminar in Chicago! Yes, that is a potential option for purchasing miles on Alaska, though that can be pretty time consuming, and is not without risk. This is a published promotion, so a bit more approachable for most.

  34. November 7th, 2013 at 9:36 am

    lucky said,

    @ Mike S. – I think they meant AS, but yes, that’s exactly how it works. Look for “Fly and Buy Miles­” on the Alaska site.

  35. November 7th, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Flyer said,

    Thanks for your reply, Lucky!

    I looking for the CX flight from SFO-HKG. And would like to maximum the ticket to add a stopover city. What’s the best way to maximum it? And is that possible to do SFO-NRT (stopover few days)-HKG one way ticket?
    For the return flight HKG-SFO, I am going to burn my UA miles before 2/1/2014. Thanks for your help.

  36. November 7th, 2013 at 10:42 am

    lucky said,

    @ Flyer — Since you can’t mix airlines on an award, if you want to fly Cathay Pacific out of San Francisco you can only fly them to Hong Kong, and from there you can connect to just about anywhere after a stopover at no extra cost.

  37. November 7th, 2013 at 11:30 am

    35% Bonus on Purchased Alaska Airlines Miles - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] (HT: Lucky) […]

  38. November 7th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Yekermo said,

    What tool do you use to check award availability for Cathay through Alaska? Is it similar to AAdvantage award availability?

  39. November 7th, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Shannon said,

    Can I book something like this on EK by Alaska miles: JFK-MXP(stopover)-DXB(layover)-NRT
    It should be 100K right? but why I can’t book it on Alaska? Can you help?

  40. November 7th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Shannon — Unfortunately unless you book the “direct” flight from New York to Dubai (and just connect in Milan rather than stopping there) it doesn’t price. Sorry!

  41. November 8th, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Terry said,

    Hi Lucky,

    Just to confirm, if I were to use Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific to fly from Asia to the U.S., I’ll need to call CP’s Hong Kong office to book and fly from HK, right? SInce I am in S’pore now, is there anyway to get round this besides buying an air ticket from SIN to HK?

    Another option I am thinking of is buying United Miles, if I were to fly ANA with United Miles, does that mean I’ll need to fly from Japan? If that is the case, how hard would it be to get an award space on SIA’s First Suites? And if it is possible to fly SIA’s First Suites how many United Miles will I need to fly from SIN to LAX?

    If SIA’s First Suites are out, what about Thai Air’s F? How hard/easy is it to find 2 seats and how many United Miles do I need per seat – from SIN to LAX, one-way? If this is a much better bet, does that mean I’ll need to call Tahi Air’s office in Bangkok to book?

  42. November 8th, 2013 at 7:45 am

    lucky said,

    @ Terry — No, your ticket could originate in Singapore, and you’d call Alaska Mileage Plan to book the ticket, and not Cathay Pacific.

    United doesn’t have access to Singapore first class award space, though they do have access to Thai first class award space.

  43. November 8th, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Terry said,

    Thanks a bunch, Lucky!

  44. November 11th, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Jfa said,

    If I did a one way Chicago-Hong Kong -South Africa on cathay, via this promotion

    Any interesting way to get back from Africa to Chicago rather than backtrack?

    I have a ton of points all over so would be open to almost anything.

    This could be in business-even coach

    Thanks in advance-you are the best

  45. November 11th, 2013 at 5:58 am

    lucky said,

    @ jfa — Well you could fly Emirates to a US gateway using Alaska miles. Otherwise South Africa is typically a tough market using miles.

    If you’re planning in advance it’s tough to beat the convenience of the South African Airways flights to Washington or New York, and at 60,000 United miles in business class it’s a tough value to beat.

  46. November 15th, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Keith Smith said,

    Thanks for all the great info.
    CX – HKG – SYD in J or PECO…what is the best tool to find availability. I know Points Pro seem good have emailed then before buy yet to use. Want a rt HKG any class 5Dec back around 18th Thx !!!

  47. November 15th, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Keith Smith — Best tool for searching Cathay Pacific award space is either the British Airways or Qantas websites.

  48. November 15th, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    David said,

    Hi lucky – are we allowed to redeem mixed cabin classes (i.e. first and business) on one single award ticket?

  49. November 16th, 2013 at 10:11 am

    lucky said,

    @ David — Yes, you sure can, you just pay the number of miles required for the highest cabin you’re flying.

  50. November 18th, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Terry said,

    @ Lucky — What is the best way to use Alaska miles to travel from either the US to Europe (any major city) or Asia to Europe?

  51. November 18th, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Terry said,

    P.S. For First or Business cabin.

  52. November 18th, 2013 at 10:04 am

    lucky said,

    @ Terry – The only real option between Asia and Europe is Cathay Pacific, as Alaska doesn’t publish a chart between all zones. Between the US and Europe you have tons of options, though my favorite is Emirates with a stopover in Dubai.

  53. November 18th, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Terry said,

    Thanks, Lucky. So I’ll have to call Alaska to book awards on Asia and Europe or US and Europe routes, huh? Are first and/or business cabins relatively easy to get?

  54. November 18th, 2013 at 10:56 am

    David said,

    Hi lucky,

    Tried to book KIX – HKG (stop-over) -SIN on Cathay via alaskan airlines miles redemption but was told that I would have to book it as two separate one way award tickets as they’re going in the wrong direction? Do you happen to know if this is a rule?

  55. November 18th, 2013 at 11:17 am

    lucky said,

    @ Terry — Fairly easy, yes. You can always search space online and once you’ve found it you can call to book, which eliminates a bit of the guessing game.

  56. November 18th, 2013 at 11:18 am

    lucky said,

    @ David — The routing itself should be legal, I think the issue is that since you’re only flying within a single region you can’t have a stopover.

  57. November 18th, 2013 at 11:22 am

    David said,

    I thought you were allowed stop overs for one way awards?

  58. November 18th, 2013 at 11:36 am

    lucky said,

    @ David — You are on one way awards between regions, but not for awards within regions.

  59. November 18th, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Terry said,

    @ Lucky — Which site should I go to search space and if I am not a member of say, British Air or one of Alaska’s partners, will I still able to search there?

    If my dad is not an Alaska’s frequent flyer member, will I still be able to buy miles for him?

    Thanks, Lucky!

  60. November 18th, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Terry — You can sign up for a British Airways account and then search space here.

    You can sign your dad up for an Alaska account and then can buy miles for him. Otherwise you can buy miles in a different account and redeem the for him. Either should be fine.

  61. December 9th, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    justSaying said,

    Cathay class of service from Hong Kong to Jo’berg shows Business class as the highest class of service……..so the last 13 hours of your 28 hour trip would be in business NOT FIRST…………

  62. December 9th, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    lucky said,

    @ justSaying — Four cabin service is seasonal. Roughly half the year they operate an aircraft with a first class product, while the other half of the year they operate an aircraft without a first class product.

  63. December 13th, 2013 at 12:08 am

    jet said,

    Ive been an Alaska airlines mileage program member for a long time. I like the new flexible one-way redemptions. What surprises me is that when you book an international flight on business class now, there is no guarantee that you will be in business class on all legs of the trip. So if you booked a one-way lets say PDX–LAX–IST, PDX to LAX could in first class. And LAX to IST could be in coach class. Are all airlines doing the same thing?

  64. December 31st, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Fan said,

    Lucky, Can I redeem 100k Alaska points on Emirates from BOS-DXB-HKG once they start non stop service from BOS-DXB? What is the best place to search for EK award availabilities?

    TIA!

  65. December 31st, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    lucky said,

    @ jet — They should always disclose when that’s the case, so really they’re just giving you the option to book things more flexibly.

  66. December 31st, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Fan — Yep, you sure can once the route starts. You can search Emirates award availability most easily on ExpertFlyer and on Alaska’s website, even, though I’d recommend searching segment by segment.

  67. January 23rd, 2014 at 12:24 am

    E said,

    Does the stop have to be in hkg on a lax-hkg-sin award? Or can I stop in sin and end back in hkg? Lax-hkg-sin(stop)-hkg

  68. January 23rd, 2014 at 8:02 am

    lucky said,

    @ E — Well I can’t think of any other routing that would be legal, so generally it does have to be in Hong Kong. It’s not legal to transit Hong Kong twice on a one-way.

  69. February 6th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Andre said,

    I just created Alaska Mileage Plan account. Are there a certain amount of days I have to wait to take advantage of the current 40% promo? I know US Air has the 12 day rule. I received the follow error message: The Mileage Plan account you specified is not eligible to purchase miles.

  70. March 5th, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Rob said,

    I am getting the same error. As Andre, its been 3 days and still unable to purchase miles.

  71. March 5th, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Andre said,

    Hey Rob,

    I spoke to AS rep last week and she stated that a new account has to be open for 10 days. Now, I’m able to purchase miles.

    Also, you can call and they can do it over the phone if you can not wait 10 days. I hope this helps.

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