Alaska Mileage Plan are currently running a promotion on purchased miles until the 29th of September. It’s targeted in that different members are being offered different bonuses. When I log into my account I’m seeing a 40% bonus offered but the email I received states that it could be up to 50%. With a 40% maximum bonus, it’s still tiered and I’d need to buy at least 40k miles to actually get the full 40%. The price per mile with a 40% bonus is about US$0.021 which can definitely be a great deal depending on how you use them.
It’s a massive shame but after they changed the redemption rates for Emirates award flights a few months ago I’m really not interested in sitting on a bunch of their miles, so will only buy some if I’m going to redeem them straight away.
Alaska Mileage Plan redemptions can still be pretty great value though, particularly when you take advantage of their generous stopover rules. You can add a stopover even on one-way award tickets and if you’re a little bit strategic with where you use them, it’s possible to get massive value out of it.
Here are three great ways to take advantage of stopovers on Alaska award tickets.
1. Honolulu to Los Angeles to Sydney
My absolute favourite way to take advantage of Alaska’s stopover rule, is to add a stopover in the continental USA on the way from Hawaii to Australia on a Qantas award. For 55k miles and less than $100 in taxes, you can fly in Alaska Airlines first class from Hawaii to Los Angeles or San Francisco and then from there back to Australia in Qantas business class. The problem with trying to get one of these awards is the availability. Alaska are pretty stingy with first class award availability to and from Hawaii and Qantas are just as bad with premium cabin seats between Australia and the USA. It’s often reasonably easy to get one seat but trying to find two or more seats on all the flights takes some serious perseverance and flexibility but it can be done.
To buy the 55k miles needed for this award with a 40% bonus costs US$1182.50
2. Los Angeles to Melbourne to Perth
Another great use of Alaska miles that uses a stopover is adding a one way business class domestic Australia flight at a later date after arriving back from the USA such as Melbourne to Perth. As these can often be incredibly expensive tickets to purchase, it’s amazing being able to add one for basically zero additional cost on top of the USA to Australia flight.
At a total cost of US$1230.50 including taxes, or roughly AU$1600, the total itinerary is cheaper than buying just the Melbourne to Perth flight in business class.
3. Honolulu to Los Angeles to London
It’s not often that purchasing points for an economy ticket is very good value. However, utilising American Airlines off-peak awards with Alaska miles as well as adding a stopover can represent great value, especially on a one way ticket from Hawaii to Europe with a stop in the continental USA.
I find it a bit funny that Honolulu to Los Angeles on its own costs more miles…
Since Alaska Mileage Plan pretty much doubled the rates for award tickets on Emirates with zero notice, it’s hard to trust them enough to buy up big and sit on their miles. They still have some very generous award rates and the ability to add stopovers even on one way tickets means it’s possible to get some great value out of their miles, so it can certainly be very worthwhile purchasing miles to book a specific itinerary as long as you have already confirmed availability on your dates. I just wouldn’t buy them for an unspecified future booking.