Alaska Airlines is running a short-term sale on purchased miles when you buy between April 24 and May 3, 2017. However, it’s unlike most sales I’ve seen. It’s limited to the first 2,500 members and is for a fixed amount: Buy 10,000 miles and get another 4,000 miles free. The net cost is $295.63 for 14,000 miles, or about 2.11 cents each. Note that you can place up to 5 transactions for a total of 70,000 miles. (HT to Loyalty Lobby)
I consider this a good value. I’ve consistently been able to redeem Alaska miles at something close to this, especially on its Asian partners. (I’m less impressed with European partners, which have higher fees, and with Emirates, which significantly increased in cost last year.) However the particulars of this deal still leave me scratching my head.
Normally I would pause and only recommend this deal for people who don’t fly Alaska regularly. Those who do fly Alaska can buy miles for about 2 cents each at any time just by adding 5,000 or 10,000 to their new flight reservation on Alaska’s website. Thus, buying miles through promotions like this one makes more sense for people who don’t fly Alaska but still want to utilize their Mileage Plan loyalty program, or for people who need a lot of miles very quickly. Buying miles and booking an award is sometimes cheaper — and has more flexible change policies — than paying for a ticket.
However, this offer for a fixed amount of 14,000 miles is not much larger than what Alaska usually offers. It’s odd that it is limited to a small group. And — perhaps most strange — it’s not promoted on Alaska’s own website, and it won’t appear if you try to buy miles through traditional links. I found a link by running a Google search and clicking on an ad.
So what gives? Maybe Alaska is trying to dial back the number of miles it sells to avoid inflationary pressure on its award chart. Maybe it’s trying to keep miles in the hands of people who actually fly the airline by selling fewer through other means. I don’t know. Maybe this is just an experiment and means nothing. But it is an unusual exception to past practice that I thought worth mentioning.