Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is probably my favorite frequent flyer programme. Even though I rarely fly on Alaska Airlines itself, I welcome a non-alliance airline that offers partnerships with American Airlines, British Airways, Air France / KLM, Emirates, Korean Air, Icelandair, Cathay Pacific, Japan Air Lines, amongst others. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan often allows you to buy miles at a discount, to then use on a premium cabin reward. Apart from British Airways, you should rarely be forced to pay hefty surcharges either.
One particular sweet spot for Europeans is Cathay Pacific rewards between Europe and Hong Kong – 85,000 miles in Business Class and 140,000 miles in First Class (return).
Until 6 April, 2017, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles, provided you buy at least 40,000 miles. The bonus is tiered:
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles = 30% bonus
- Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles = 40% bonus
Alaska normally sells miles at 2.75 cents each, so purchasing 56,000 miles (40,000 + 40% bonus) will cost you $1182.50. This works out to about 2.1 cents each (1.7p) at the 40% bonus level.
You can buy as many miles as you like, but only in chunks of 60,000 miles. But if you were to buy that many, you would spend approximately £1400 to get 84,000 Alaska miles. Add a small amount for tax (assuming you position yourself outside of the UK to a different Cathay Pacific destination), and you could be flying to Hong Kong and back in Business Class with Cathay Pacific for roughly £1500.
Given the relative weakness of sterling, you shouldn’t be speculatively buying Alaska miles during this promotion. But if you have a plan for an immediate reward booking, and the math works out attractively, by all means jump on this offer to buy miles with a 40% bonus…