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Alaska Mileage Plan offers highest ever 60% bonus on miles purchases

Targeted bonus available to some members only.

In the midst of a world pandemic, airlines are desperately trying to conserve cash burn as they receive practically near-zero revenue given the halting of international travel.

Alaska Air has turned to its usual tactic to raise some money, by ‘selling’ future travel in the form of miles. This time, Alaska Air is offering up to 60% bonus miles, a never-seen-before offer.

Note that Alaska Air is currently selling these miles tax-free, so this brings the per-mile cost down to 1.72 US cents.

The offer

Alaska Air has targeted some members with the whopping 60% bonus. This is not a straight-off bonus, but tiered according to how much you buy:

  • Buy 10,000-19,000 miles: 20% bonus (i.e. 2.29 US cents/mile)
  • Buy 20,000-39,000 miles: 40% bonus (i.e. 1.96 US cents/mile)
  • Buy 40,000 miles and above: 60% bonus (i.e. 1.72 US cents/mile)

This is a targeted offer, so that means that your offer may differ from other people. As far as articles have suggested, there are two offers: one for 60% bonus, the other for 40% bonus.

The 40% bonus is a lot more sedated (and definitely not worth considering):

  • Buy 3,000-14,000 miles: 20% bonus (2.29 US cents/mile)
  • Buy 15,000 miles and above: 40% bonus (1.96 US cents/mile)

To find out what’s your offer, you will need to log into your account here.

Should you really be buying miles now?

This is no doubt an incredible offer, given that Alaska Air has historically offered only up to 50% bonus miles. At 1.72 US cents per mile, the famed Singapore-Tokyo redemption on JAL business class will only set you by USD429.70 (S$613), or somewhere close to USD860 (S$1,226) for a roundtrip ticket, an incredible value for a business class mid-haul ride.

The key risk here is obvious: we don’t know when the global travel economy is going to recover, and that has a hinge on flight capacity. Historically, airlines will prioritise revenue tickets over award tickets, so if there’s a situation where demand outpace the available air capacity, you could be left in a situation of too many miles, too few redemption options.

While Alaska Mileage Plan last for two years before expiring, bear in mind that Alaska is due to join oneworld in summer next year, so award prices may change by then.

Final thoughts

The worst of situations often brings out the best promotions, and this is probably one of those classic examples.

As the other mileage experts always say: don’t buy these miles speculatively. Only do it if you have a plan to use them in the near future.

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