Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan is putting a bunch of their award flights on sale for travel between August 30 and October 31. (You can book these awards starting today.) Some of the awards are as low as 5,000 miles one-way and represent a 60% discount off the normal 12,500-mile price for a domestic award.
Here are some examples from the press release:
5,000 miles (a 7,500 miles savings)
- Portland, Oregon – Oakland, California
- Salt Lake City – Los Angeles
- Seattle – San Francisco
10,000 miles (a 2,500 miles savings)
- Seattle – Salt Lake City
- Anchorage, Alaska – Los Angeles
- San Diego – Portland
7,500 miles (a 5,000 miles savings)
- Boise, Idaho – Oakland, California
- Spokane, Washington – San Francisco
- Bellingham, Washington – San Francisco
12,500 miles (a 5,000 miles savings)
- Los Angeles – Mazatlan, Mexico
- San Francisco – Los Cabos, Mexico
- Salt Lake City – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
I normally try saving my Alaska Airlines miles for some of their great international partners like Cathay Pacific while using use British Airways’ Avios points for awards on Alaska to maximize it’s low-cost, distance-based award chart.
Given the current sale, it might make more sense to book awards on Alaska through Mileage Plan. Seattle to San Francisco tends to be a cheap flight at about $200 round-trip. That’s cheap enough that using miles doesn’t always make sense. But being able to book this for 10,000 miles round-trip represents a value of roughly 2 cents per mile and is even cheaper than Avios (15,000 points round-trip). Awards to Mexico are on sale, too.
Buy Miles and Get up to 40% More
If you don’t have enough miles for one of these great awards, Alaska is putting the cost of purchased miles on sale, too! You can buy 10,000 miles at a time for about 2 cents each during the booking process on AlaskaAir.com, but now you can get up to 40% bonus miles for free when you purchase them at any time through the Buy & Share Miles offer on the Mileage Plan page.
More miles means a larger bonus and a lower overall cost. 35,000 miles would normally cost $1,034.69 including taxes and fees. At nearly 3 cents per mile I’d suggest buying miles while you book a ticket instead.
Thanks to this promotion, you’ll also get 14,000 bonus miles for a total of 49,000 miles. That brings the price down to 2.11 cents per mile. Given that not everyone is booking tickets on Alaska, this may be a viable alternative. (One of our own on Hack My Trip got slapped with a warning for booking flights — and later canceling them — just so he could buy miles.) My advice: Buy miles while booking a ticket you’ll actually use or take advantage of this sale.
Even if you can’t take advantage of one of the discounted award tickets, you could still use the miles for a first class award on Cathay Pacific, a business class award to Fiji, or other travel on one of Alaska’s many partners.
Stepping up the Competition with Delta?
I can’t help but interpret this sale as an effort by Alaska to step up their competition with Delta, which is expanding in the Seattle market and trying to establish a new West Coast hub. Some of the language they use in the press release is particularly appropriate:
“…no minimum spend requirement to achieve Mileage Plan elite status…”
(Delta introduced Medallion Qualifying Dollars this year.)
“…miles flown on all its international partners…count toward MVP elite status.”
(Delta doesn’t award Medallion Qualifying Miles for any travel on Korean Air, a SkyTeam partner.)
Lots of readers have asked me if we can expect to profit from this competition. Up until now I would have said, “no.” There hasn’t been much beyond a few targeted promotions. This is one of the first examples I’ve seen of Alaska offering a wide range of discounts to all its customers and suggests we may be in for more excitement this fall and winter as the “Battle for Seattle” continues.
Terms and Conditions for Award Sale: Award space is limited and may not be available on all flights. Travel must be completed by Oct. 31, 2014. Some markets may not operate daily service. Passengers are responsible for the following taxes and fees on award travel: September 11 Security Fee of $5.60 per enplanement, and International Taxes and Fees of up to $180 for Mexico itineraries. Award tickets booked through an Alaska Airlines Reservations call center will incur a $15 ticketing fee. All taxes are subject to change without notice due to government discretion. All taxes and fees shown are in USD based on one-way travel and may be doubled if traveling roundtrip. A ticket purchased at an Alaska Airlines airport location or through a call center will cost $15 more per person than the advertised fare. Differences in fare and taxes, fees and charges apply to any changes made after ticketing. A $125(USD) change fee per person applies to changes made within 60 days of ticketed travel. Other restrictions— such as day of week, blackout dates and advance purchase requirements — may apply. Some flights may be operated by Horizon Air, SkyWest or PenAir. Additional U.S. taxes may apply to itineraries involving more than one stopover or a stopover lasting more than 12 hours. Bag fees apply for checked baggage. See visit alaskaair.com or call Alaska Airlines reservations at 1-800-ALASKAAIR for complete fare rules, checked baggage policies and more information.
Terms and Conditions for bonus miles: Registration at visit alaskaair.com prior to the first qualifying flight is required in order to receive the bonus miles. Other rules and restrictions apply to this promotion. Visit alaskaair.com for details.