7

Until June 13, 2016, you can buy Alaska Airlines miles for as little as 1.97 cents each. You have to log in to your account at this link to see your offer. People are being offered bonuses of 35% to 50% on purchased miles.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 1.18.11 AM

The sale is structured as a bonus on the normal number of miles you’d receive. The bonus is tiered, so the biggest 35%-50% bonus comes from purchasing 50,000 to 60,000 miles at the normal price of about 2.96 cents each after tax.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 1.18.03 AM

If you get a 50% bonus, it costs $1,478.13 to buy 75,000 miles (50k + 25k bonus) during this sale.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 1.18.57 AM

  • If your bonus for buying 50,000+ miles is 35%, you can buy miles for 2.19 cents each.
  • If your bonus for buying 50,000+ miles is 40%, you can buy miles for 2.11 cents each.
  • If your bonus for buying 50,000+ miles is 50%, you can buy miles for 1.97 cents each.

While each purchase is limited to 60,000 miles plus bonus, you can make unlimited purchases during the sale, so you can buy unlimited miles.

I don’t think Alaska miles are worth 1.97 cents each, but they are worth close to that, and if you have a specific redemption in mind, it is not hard to get more than 1.97 cents of value per mile.

Airlines on which You Can Redeem Alaska Miles

Here are the Alaska partners on which you can redeem. (Note: AeroMexico awards have been unavailable since October 2015.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.35.49 PM

Five Favorite Redemptions

Here are my five favorite redemptions with Alaska miles:

 1. Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class costs 70,000 Alaska miles one way from the United States to Asia or Africa with a free stopover in Hong Kong, or 80,000 miles one way to Australia or New Zealand, again with a free stopover possible in Hong Kong.

IMG_0051

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy to Asia is only 35,000 Alaska miles one way and Business Class is only 50,000.

If you buy Alaska miles for 1.97 cents each, any of these awards would be a significant discount off the retail price.

Here is my review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

2. American Airlines Flights at Pre-Devaluation Prices

Alaska still charges the same number of miles for American Airlines flights that American Airlines charged until its massive March 22, 2016 devaluation. Some steals (prices listed one way):

  • 20,000 Alaska miles for seven months out of the year in economy to Europe
  • 20,000 Alaska miles for five months out of the year in economy to Southern South America
  • 25,000 Alaska miles for six months out of the year in economy to Japan
  • 30,000 Alaska miles to Peru or Northern South America in Business Class
  • 50,000 Alaska miles in Business Class to Europe, Japan, or Southern South America
  • 62,500 Alaska miles in Business Class to Australia or New Zealand
3. Fiji Airways Business Class

You can fly from the United States to Fiji to New Zealand or Australia for only 55,000 Alaska miles one way in Business Class with a free stopover in Fiji.

4. Hainan Business Class

Alaska charges just 50,000 miles each way in Hainan flat bed Business Class to anywhere in Asia.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.07.29 PM

Unfortunately there are fuel surcharges of about $140 per direction.

Full details on booking Hainan flights with Alaska miles.

5. Icelandair

Icelandair awards start at 22,500 miles one way to Iceland or 55,000 miles one way in Business Class to Europe with a stopover in Iceland.

Unfortunately there are fuel surcharges of about $100 per direction on these awards.

Full details on booking Icelandair awards with Alaska miles.

Alaska Airlines Award Routing Rules

Alaska Airlines is extremely generous allowing a stopover on one way awards, anywhere you’d like en route.

Here are the basics for redemptions of Alaska miles.

Logistics of Buying Alaska Miles

Unlike many miles sales when you are capped at how many miles you can buy, with Alaska miles sales, you can make several maximum purchases to get all the miles you need.

Remember that Alaska Airlines miles sales are handled through points.com, so they are not considered airfare or travel purchases for the purposes of earning a category bonus on your credit card.

Bottom Line

Alaska miles are on sale until June 13, 2016 for as little as 1.97 cents each. While that’s too high of a price to buy speculatively, it is a good price if you have an immediate high value use for the miles.

Sale Link: Log into your Alaska account here to see the size of your bonus

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

10

The current sign-up bonus available to the public for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card is 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles upon approval. There are higher offers out there however, and the official public offer is increasing in May, but with a new minimum spending requirement.

There is no minimum spending requirement to earn the current sign-up bonus of 25,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 6.25.23 PM

There is also a $75 annual fee. I currently value Alaska Airlines miles at 1.75 cents each, so that’s like buying $437.50 worth of miles for $75.

The current public sign-up offer for the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card is nearly identical, except a free checked bag for yourself and six others is not a benefit, and the bonus miles are earned after your first purchase as opposed to upon approval like the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card. The annual fee is $75 (unless you add an authorized user, then it will be an additional $25).

However Alaska Airlines filed a 10-K report with the SEC in February of this year (which is basically a summary of their financial performance and future plans) that revealed a new offer coming out in May. A section towards the beginning describing the Mileage Plan program states:

“…members can receive 25,000 bonus miles (30,000 beginning in the Spring of 2016) upon signing up for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card”

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 6.53.17 PM

Note that there will be a minimum spending requirement of $1,000 to earn the 30,000 mile bonus. They clarify when Spring is in an asterisk underneath that table:

“*Expected launch of 30,000 bonus miles in May 2016. Currently, bonus miles are 25,000.”

These cards, issued by Bank of America, were unique in that they offered good sign-up bonuses with no minimum spending requirement. That is changing soon, albeit to a pretty minimal spending requirement. What makes them more unique is that these cards are churnable, so you can collect tons of Alaska Airlines miles relatively easily.

Or should I say what made them even more unique is that these cards were churnable, so you could collect tons of Alaska Airlines miles relatively easily?

Are the Alaska Airlines Credit Cards Still Churnable?

First, let me clarify what I mean by churnable. Generally a churnable credit card is one you can get the same sign-up bonus over and over.

From what I can see from reading through the last five weeks of the Flyertalk thread Alaska Airlines card offers, Personal & Business, 25K and up, everyone that has been churning Alaska Airlines cards in the past has continued to be approved for new cards. Most wait a span of at least 91 days before reapplying.

There is one exception– this Flyertalker who had opened 11 cards in the last six months was outright denied. Note that those weren’t 11 Bank of America cards per se, but credit cards across the board. So too many new accounts open in a shorter period of time could be a trigger for denial.

What I did see happen to more than one person was the receipt of a pending status on their applications instead of an immediate approval. But the ones who reported an update all said they were approved after calling the reconsideration line (note that phone numbers for the reconsideration line listed in the wiki summary at the top of the thread are outdated, try 1-866-811-4108 instead). This very recent post is from a Flyertalker who received a notice of pending applications for two out of the three Alaska cards he applied for, and he has not posted any update referencing a reconsideration phone call or an approval. But I wouldn’t consider this a negative data point against the churnability of the Alaska cards just yet.

A quick aside–you should always consider calling the reconsideration line if your credit card application comes back as status pending. Many times they will just ask you the same questions that were on the original application and then approve you.

So I will tentatively say that yes, Alaska Airlines credit cards are still churnable for the time being. But we will have to wait and see what May brings before I’m ready to give a firm yes to that question. The changing of a sign-up bonus offer could also mean the changing of the policies regarding that sign-up bonus offer.

Lowering Credit Limits of Existing Cards Before Re-Applying

What is abundantly clear from nearly everyone’s posts in the Alaska Airlines card offers, Personal & Business, 25K and up Flyertalk thread is that if you are planning on opening another Alaska Airlines credit card and you already have one or more, the best way to improve your chances of approval for another one is to lower the credit limit on the ones you already have. Think about it this way– Bank of America isn’t blind to your already existing credit lines, and they only want to lend you a certain amount of credit to minimize their risk. How much credit they will give you depends on the person and their credit score, but it certainly won’t hurt to get the credit limits dropped of your already existing Alaska Airlines cards. As you aren’t (or shouldn’t be!) holding a balance on any of them, this doesn’t matter anyways.

You can accomplish this by signing in to your Bank of America account online and going to the Contact Us page (accessible from the Help & Support drop down menu). From there choose credit cards in the drop down menu and a box will pop up like this one:

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 11.31.39 AM

You can also call 1.800.732.9194 (for help with the personal card) or 1.800.673.1044 (for help with the business card) but people have reported a smoother process using the chat function.

Current Best Sign-up Bonus Offers

25,000 Alaska Miles is what is being offered to the public for signing up for either the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card. But there are better offers out there:

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.44.04 PM

Coolest Things You Can Do With Alaska Miles

While not a part of any of three major alliances, Alaska Airlines miles can be used to book a diverse array of oneworld, SkyTeam, and non-alliance partners.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 1.20.49 AM

There are some great redemption options and they are flexible with routing and award rules.

You can…

While I can not directly link to the current public Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Bottom Line

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card’s and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card’s current public offers are 25,000 miles for each of them, but it is possible to get an even better offer from this link or by checking your email for the targeted promotion with a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus. The public offer will increase to 30,000 miles in May, but you will be required to spend $1,000 in the first three months to earn it.

Alaska Airlines has some high value redemption opportunities and allows for flexible routings, so take advantage while you can. All signs point to these cards still being churnable–for now. We can reevaluate once the first hand reports start rolling in later in the year about how or if Bank of America’s policies change post-May (when the sign-up bonus offer changes).

Help the Milevalue community make informed decisions about their own Alaska Airlines credit card strategy by leaving your experiences in the comments.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

You can book yourself a tour around Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia stopping in four places for only 100,000 miles total with nearly half the trip in a flat bed. By stopping in four places, I am referring to actual destinations, not connections that have to be under 24 hours.

Much like the Mega Trip to the Caribbean and South America I wrote about a few days ago, this deal relies on piecing together some sweet spot awards (and this time also a low cost carrier flight within Europe) into one big trip. Even if you never take a trip like this, knowledge of the sweet spot awards is useful.

For the purposes of this example, this will be the route we examine:

Chicago > Paris > Istanbul > Doha > Bangkok > Chicago

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 1.54.50 PM

You can tweak the route to your liking and keep the same prices as long as each destination falls in the right region for the pricing of the award.

What does that mean exactly?

  • Chicago could be replaced by anywhere that American Airlines flies to.
  • Paris could be replaced by anywhere that is in Europe, but that will affect the cost of the low carrier flight to Istanbul.
  • Istanbul could be replaced by any nearby city with low cost carrier flights from Europe, although this would affect the out of pocket cost as well as the miles price which will probably go up if you choose a different city since the following award is flown with distance-based Avios to the Middle East.
  • Doha can really only be replaced by Amman as the two oneworld hubs in the Middle East.
  • Bangkok could be replaced by a different Asian city that is anywhere from 3,001 to 4,000 miles away from Doha or Amman.
  • Chicago could be replaced by anywhere that Cathay Pacific or Alaska Airlines flies to.

United States to Paris

Before American Airlines devalued their award chart, you could book economy flights to Europe for 20,000 American Airlines miles during the Off Peak season (October 15 – May 15). With American Airlines’ devaluation, the price went to 22,500 miles one way and, more alarmingly, the available dates were dramatically reduced. However you can still use Alaska or Etihad miles to book American Airlines flights in economy to Europe from October 15 to May 15 for 20,000 Alaska or Etihad miles. Here is such a flight on alaskaair.com:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 3.13.32 PM

You can search for and book award space right on alaskaairlines.com’s home page, just check the “use miles” box in the search tool. You don’t even need an account with Alaska’s Mileage Plan loyalty program.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 3.27.07 PM

There is space every day of November.

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You can book this same award flying American Airlines flights for 20,000 Etihad miles. 

Some other options you might want to consider depending on what kind of miles you have and where you live:

Paris to Istanbul

Low cost carriers are an economical way of hopping around Europe, especially when you’re trying to save your miles for higher value long distance redemptions.  I found the following flight from Paris to Istanbul with Pegasus Airlines for under $100:

pegasus flight

As is often the case with these discount airlines, the catch is that you have to watch how much you pack. You get one free carry on that can weigh 17.5 pounds. I am a proponent of one bag travel, but understandably you might want a little more room if you’re going on a trip with as many climates as this one. Luckily it’s only $6 more to bring about 44 pounds of luggage.

Istanbul to Doha

The next two legs are Avios awards. Why? Avios are ideal for short, direct, economy flights, especially between regions on award charts. Why pay 20,000 American Airlines to fly Istanbul to Doha (the same price that London to Delhi would be), when you can pay 10,000 Avios?

You can book a one way ticket between Istanbul and Doha in Economy for 10,000 British Airways Avios and $86 in taxes and fees.

avios price

You can search search and book this award right on ba.com– here’s how use the search tool. There is space in Economy every day I checked between these two cities.

avios award space

Doha to Bangkok

It costs 20,000 British Airways Avios and $62 in taxes and fees to fly from Doha to Bangkok, Thailand.

doha to bangkok price

You can search and book this award right on ba.com– here’s how use the search tool. There is space in Economy every day I checked between these two cities.

doha to bangkok avios space

Bangkok to United States

You can fly Cathay Pacific’s Business Class featuring a fully lie flat bed for only 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles…

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.35.25 PM

…and about $55 in taxes and fees. The following screenshot is from ITA matrix, which breaks down the costs of a normal revenue ticket. Alaska Airlines does not collet fuel surcharges on Cathay Pacific awards, so we know that the amount of out of pocket expenses will be approximately the sum of the taxes and other fees:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.41.40 PM

You cannot search for Cathay Pacific award space on Alaska’s website. Use British Airways’ search tool instead– here’s how to search ba.com. The easiest time to find award space in premium cabins on Cathay Pacific flights is immediately prior (a couple weeks or less before travel) or about 11 months out from travel. For example, the availability shown below is for about 11 months from now, and five out of the seven days displayed have three to eight Business Class seats available each day.

bkk to us

bkk to us

Cathay Pacific flights can be booked by calling Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan at 1-800-654-5669.

What Do Those Awards Add up to?

     United States to Paris = 20,000 Alaska Airlines Miles and $19

     Paris to Istanbul = $80

     Istanbul to Doha = 10,000 British Airways Avios and $86

     Doha to Bangkok = 20,000 British Airways Avios and $62

 +  Bangkok to United States = 50,000 Alaska Airlines Miles and $55


    100,000 Miles and $302  

Or, if you wanted to fly the leg between the United States and Paris in Business Class it would cost an additional 30,000 Alaska miles for a total of 130,000 miles and $302.

How to Get the Miles Needed for this Trip

Alaska Airlines Miles

The Alaska Airlines credit cards from Bank of America are churnableEach one has a 25,000 mile sign-up bonus for simply signing up– no minimum spending requirement. For the Business Card you have to charge one purchase to earn the bonus.

While I can not directly link to the current Alaska Airlines credit card, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express, personal and business versions, both are offering 25,000 Starpoints each for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively within three months of the accounts opening. SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. SPG Starpoints also transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios.

Etihad Miles

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Etihad is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

British Airways Avios

Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards are ideal, since they transfer 1:1 instantly to British Airways Avios miles.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Bottom Line

You can see four destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia for 100,000 miles and $302 with about half the trip in a flat bed. The deal relies on using Etihad or Alaska miles to fly American Airlines off peak economy to Europe; using a low cost carrier in Europe; using Avios for direct, region-connecting flights; and using Alaska miles to fly Cathay Pacific home.

The exact destinations in this post are mostly guidelines and can be subbed out for your preferred spots, as long as you understand how these sweet spot awards work.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

7

There used to be two programs that offered Emirates First Class and Business Class redemptions at reasonable rates:

  • Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Now there is only one.

Current State of Alaska/Emirates Awards

Sadly, Alaska Airlines massively devalued their Emirates chart with no notice. Emirates First Class prices have gone up 67%-100%.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 6.11.30 PM

And you still can’t book Emirates First Class on all routes with Alaska miles, just between the United States and Asia, Africa, or Europe.

Current State of JAL/Emirates Awards

Now the best miles for booking Emirates First Class are, by far, Japan Airlines (JAL) miles.

For Emirates flights, JAL uses a distance based award chart, so the price of your award is determined by the summed distance of all segments and cabin, which you can check on Great Circle Mapper.

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Unlike with Alaska Airlines miles, you JAL miles can book all Emirates routes.

Here are some high value examples:

Economy/Business/First Class Roundtrip Prices in Thousands of JAL Miles

  • 21/42/65 Auckland to Sydney (flight distance of 2,690 miles roundtrip)
  • 39/63/100 New York to Milan (flight distance of 7,990 miles roundtrip)
  • 55/85/135 New York to Dubai (flight distance of 13,698 miles roundtrip)
  • 60/100/155 Los Angeles to Dubai to Sydney one way (flight distance of 15,819 miles one way)
  • 60/100/155 Los Angeles to Dubai (flight distance of 16,678 miles roundtrip)
  • 60/100/155 New York to Dubai to Bangkok (flight distance of 19,798 miles roundtrip)

All of these awards are either unbookable with Alaska miles or more one way with Alaska miles than roundtrip with JAL miles.

Routing Rules

You can book one way awards, however they cost a lot more than half the roundtrip price because JAL’s charts for Emirates flights starts expensive and then goes up little by little. For instance, Auckland to Sydney in First Class is 60,000 JAL miles one way (1,345 miles flown) but only 65,000 JAL miles roundtrip (2,690 miles flow.) Similarly New York to Dubai is 100k one way in First Class and 135k roundtrip in First Class.

You can take two stopovers on an award. For instance, you could fly New York to Milan (stop) to Dubai (stop) to Asia or Africa (destination) and return home. If you want to have an open jaw, it will count as one of your stopovers and the distance between the open jaw cities counts as distance traveled on the chart.

You get six segments per award, whether you fly one way or roundtrip. It’s pretty hard to jam more than six Emirates segments onto one roundtrip, so this shouldn’t come into play often.

If your origin and destination on an award aren’t the same, they must be in the same country.

Fuel Surcharges

There has been some question over whether or not Japan Airlines collects fuel surcharges on Emirates redemptions as their loyalty program’s policy has waivered over the last few years. When I first wrote about the Best Program to Redeem Miles for Emirates First Class,  JAL was not collecting fuel surcharges, but if you read the comments section you can see that policy changed sometime in 2013. In 2014, JAL updated their website with a statement regarding taxes and carrier fees on partner redemptions, which holds today as the current policy and says all taxes and carrier fees on Emirates redemptions will cost a maximum of $78.20 between the United States and United Arab Emirates. So at least on a roundtrip to Dubai, there are no fuel surcharges.

I also called JAL Mileage Bank and asked a customer service representative to quote the taxes and fees for a couple other awards flying to different places. From what he told me it does not seem that fuel surcharges are collected on Emirates redemptions:

  • New York to Bangkok: $44
  • Los Angeles to Sydney: $66

Both of those amounts are very similar to what the taxes and fees would be on revenue ticket, less the fuel surcharges.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 2.53.14 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 2.58.32 PM

Please let us know in the comments if anyone has booked an Emirates flight with JAL miles to a place other than the United Arab Emirates recently and what the out of pocket expenses where.

Product

Emirates First Class on an A380 has showers available onboard.

Both First Class and Business Class passengers have access to an onboard bar (First Class also has another private bar with premium liquors and champagne).

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.45.42 PM

Here are links to past trip reports–each one as an index at the top to see other posts in the series.

Booking an Award with Your JAL Miles on Emirates

Find award space at alaskaair.com and book by calling JAL at 1-800-JAL-FONE (1-800-525-3663) from 9 AM – 9 PM ET Monday through Friday and 10 AM – 6 PM ET on weekends and holidays. You can’t book online, and despite that fact, there is a $20 phone booking fee.

How to Get Japan Airlines Miles

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express come with 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively in the first three months of cardmembership. Starpoints transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Japan Airlines Mileage Bank.

The sign-up bonuses from these two cards coupled with the points earned from spending to meet the requirements for the bonuses garners you at least 58,000 Starpoints. Sixty thousand Starpoints transfer to 75,000 JAL miles.

SPG is currently running a promotion through April 15, 2016. You can buy 20,000 Starpoints–which transfer to 25,000 JAL miles–for $525 or 2.625 cents per point (2.1 cents per mile). The maximum amount you can buy is 30,000 Starpoints for $787.50 (2.6 cents per mile). I wouldn’t buy these points speculatively, but if you have an Emirates redemption in mind and are short some Starpoints I would consider purchasing to top off your account. The Starwood Preferred Guest program is known for running these purchase discounts relatively often, so keep an eye out if you have your sights set on showering at 35,000 feet.

Transferring Starpoints to JAL Mileage Bank

One of the variables to remember when using your Starpoints for airline redemptions is how long it will take them to transfer from your SPG account to the airline you want to redeem on. The transfer time to Japan Airlines varies. The latest FlyerTalk post on the subject reports a wait time of 5 days, but some people report having to wait two weeks. Online information as to whether or not Japan Airlines will hold your award is not defined, but it’s certainly worth trying– call and speak to a representative at JAL Mileage Bank 1-800-JAL-FONE (1-800-525-3663) and explain you have to wait for your Starwood Preferred Guest points to transfer to your Japan Airlines Mileage Bank account.

Bottom Line

Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles used to be an affordable way of booking premium cabin awards on Emirates. That is no longer the case as award prices have inflated 67% to 100%. Japan Airlines miles, which are most easily accumulated as Starwood Preferred Guest points since the airline is a 1:1 transfer partner, are now the best miles to use to book the sought after Emirates First Class on an A380.

JAL’s routing rules and fuel surcharges’ policy have improved in the last few years, so it’s now even easier to book the award you want. Just remember it can take some time move points between accounts if you plan on using your SPG points for the redemption.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

3

Today Alaska Airlines announced it will buy Virgin America, after weeks of speculation. Alaska beat out JetBlue in the bidding.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.33.31 AM

Alaska is predicting that it will take nine months to close the deal and another year beyond that for the carriers to combine onto a single operating certificate.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.33.49 AM

To give you an idea of the relative sizes of these airlines, look at the 2015 passenger numbers for North American airlines, according to Wikipedia.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.23.53 AM

Virgin America is a minnow. Combining with Alaska will only move Alaska up one spot into the fifth largest American airline, passing JetBlue, but even the combined airline will be less than a fifth the size of American Airlines. (Even if a future tie up with JetBlue happens as some have speculated, the combined JetBlue-Alaska-Virgin America would be only about half the size of United or Southwest and 40% as big as American.)

Alaska and Virgin America are both primarily West Coast airlines. The combined route map shows that.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.20.37 AM Both airlines have a hub in Los Angeles right now. Additionally Alaska has hubs in Portland, Seattle, and Anchorage, with a focus city in San Jose. Virgin has a hub in San Francisco and a focus city in Dallas.

What Will Happen to Alaska Miles & Virgin America Points

I mainly care about this merger as it affects my points.

Basics of Each Program

Alaska Airlines runs a traditional mileage program in which miles are earned by distance flown and redeemed according to region-based award charts.

I have Alaska miles as the fourth most valuable miles, worth 1.75 cents each. Alaska miles are fantastic to fly Cathay Pacific First or Business Class, Iceland Air, Hainan Air Business Class, American Airlines at pre-devaluation prices, Fiji Airlines, and several other interesting partners. Unfortunately they are no longer useful to book Emirates First or Business Class.

Virgin America runs a new-school points program with earning and redemption revenue based on Virgin America flights, though points are redeemed according to award charts for Virgin America partner flights.

Virgin America points are actually the most valuable points on my list, worth 2.3 cents each. Virgin America points can be redeemed on Virgin America flights with no blackouts, at a rate of 2-2.3 cents per point. Partner awards include 80,000 points roundtrip to Australia in a flat bed with no fuel surcharges.

Both programs are great, and they are very different from one another. I hate to see them merge because diversity in mileage programs is per se a good thing for us. It lets us use each program for its unique strengths, raising the value of all of our miles and points.

Unfortunately the two programs will merge, although not until after the transaction closes, which is predicted for January 1, 2017.
Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.21.16 AM Alaska miles should be the surviving miles. I expect Virgin America points to become Alaska miles at a 1:1 rate, which is a slight devaluation of Virgin America points.

Hopefully there is a period before the forced conversion of Virgin America points during which you can transfer points freely back and forth between your Alaska and Virgin America accounts. We saw that option during the United/Continental merger, though there was no such option during the American/US Airways merger.

Credit Cards

Similarly, it looks like the Alaska credit card will survive and the Virgin America credit card will disappear.Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.21.36 AM

This is a little different than the American/US Airways merger which left Citi as the only issuer of new American Airlines credit cards, but let Barclaycard convert US Airways cards to American Airlines cards and continue to service its old accounts.

Transfer Partners

Virgin America is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and American Express Membership Rewards. Both have a transfer ratio of two credit card points to one Virgin America Elevate point, although both have offered 25% transfer bonuses (8:5 ratio during bonus).

Alaska is a transfer partner of SPG Starpoints. Twenty thousand Starpoints equals 25,000 Alaska miles.

It would be amazing if the new Alaska retained all three transfer partners! Imagine being able to transfer ThankYou Points 1:1 to Alaska miles and booking Cathay Pacific for 70,000 miles one way to Asia or Africa!

Bottom Line

Alaska Airlines is buying Virgin America and expects the deal to close at the start of 2017. Alaska will fold Virgin America’s brand and frequent flyer program into its own.

I will keep a close eye on the combination of Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America Elevate, so we can maximize the value of the programs before, during, and after the merger.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

10

Yesterday, Alaska Airlines doubled the price of flying Emirates First Class awards with no notice whatsoever. Here was my take:

Devaluations stink.

Major devaluations stink more. (Please do it the Aeroplan way of small yearly devaluations with a few months notice instead.)

No-notice major devaluation stink the most.

They are plainly unethical. For weeks Alaska has been selling its miles with a bonus to entice you to buy. This is a revenue stream in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually for them.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 12.15.13 PM

The implied promise is that you buy the miles and redeem them at the stated award chart prices, and then those prices change with no warning. I am sure someone got caught out on this sale with the no-notice Emirates devaluation, and that is slimy as all get out, Alaska.

In some cases, I think letting the airline hear our displeasure can help. Obviously Alaska wouldn’t roll back the price increases, but I hoped they could be shamed into future notice on price increases and into refunding miles purchases. I tweeted this and got 69 retweets.

Other miles bloggers did something similar. We had an effect.

Alaska was goaded into an explanation and an offer to refund miles purchases.

Explanation

Here is what Alaska says prompted the slaughter of its award charts.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 3.23.57 PM

It’s those dang travel hackers. Translation: it’s my fault. It’s your fault.

Of course, the specific reason stated is pure hogwash. Alaska says we wanted to exploit Mileage Plan’s award routing rules, and we did want to do that–see Three Showers in Emirates First for 100k Alaska Miles–but that has nothing to do with a price increase. If the problem was the routing rules, limit Emirates awards to two flights or start charging for every flight. But it doesn’t make sense that the 10-20 (my estimate) people who tried to book a huge award with Alaska miles that flew Emirates First Class should cause the price to double.

Refund of Miles Purchases

I figure a few dozen people probably bought Alaska miles during the current sale with the idea to redeem for Emirates First Class and were caught out by this change. I called Alaska out in my tweet for unethical behavior in encouraging people to buy miles with a sale and then breaking the implied promise that those miles could be redeemed at current prices.

(Now I have no sympathy for people who bought the miles expecting to redeem them in a few months. As I always say, only buy miles for an immediate high value use because things change frequently in the miles world. But if you bought expecting to redeem in a day or two, and then the devaluation happened, you were wronged.)

Alaska did the right thing and is offering those people a refund.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 3.27.58 PM

Good work complaining to Alaska; they listened.

Future Promise

I’d like to say Alaska promised not to make any more no-notice devaluations. They’d probably like to say they promised that also. Unfortunately they used words that almost sounded like that, but left themselves a huge loophole.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 3.32.45 PM

Oddly this is contradicted by the next paragraph, which says “Future changes, if any, to these award levels will be given with advance notice.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 3.33.02 PM

I have several thoughts on these two paragraphs:

  1. So we’ll get notice “when at all possible.” What’s the explanation why notice was not possible this time?
  2. Which is it? One says when possible, and one says we will get advance notice.
  3. “Future changes, if any” lolololololol at “if any.” There will be future changes.

Bottom Line

As a travel hacker, it is my fault for the changes. Although they were caused by us exploiting the routing rules, which were not changed.

As one of the people who complained, I goaded Alaska into an explanation (airlines don’t usually do that) and a refund offer for the unethical mileage sales.

Alaska promises future notice when possible but also promises future notice even though those are two different promises.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

0

The Hilton HHonors Signature Card’s sign up bonus has expired. Click here for the top current sign up bonuses.

Hainan Airlines is the newest partner of Alaska Airlines, and their flights are now bookable on alaskaair.com. Their award chart is dirt cheap.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.44.33 PM

That’s right, 50,000 miles one way in a flat bed for over 13 hours, with connections all over Asia. The only other deal that can compare is using Alaska miles to book Cathay Pacific flights for the same amount of miles and a little less out of pocket expenses (Hainan charges mild fuel surcharges– about $140 per one way). But award space on Cathay Pacific can be scarce unless it’s eleven months out or a week before, and Hainan award space is wide open at the moment.  If you wanna see the scope of what you can book for that price, look for the countries in Asia on Hainan Airlines destinations wikipedia page.

So there’s that.

And until 5 PM ET today (Friday April 1), the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card offers 75,000 bonus HHonors points after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months.  Just from the sign-up bonus, the spending it requires to meet it, and then spending $500 more you will accrue at least 80,000 Hilton HHonors points.

And there’s that.

Combine those two deals and you get a very cheap award to Asia (potentially in Business Class with a flat bed), and free accommodation while you’re there. 

How to Get to Asia in a flat bed for 50,000 miles and Stay for Free While You’re There

  • Step 1: Get the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card TODAY because the 75,000 point sign-up bonus offer ends at 5 PM ET
  • Step 2: Research where you want to go in Asia where Hainan flies and there are Hilton Hotels
  • Step 3: Meet the minimum spending requirement for the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
  • Step 4: Accumulate Alaska Airlines miles by opening the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card as well as the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card
  • Step 5: Book your Alaska Airlines award flying Hainan
  • Step 6: Book your Hilton hotels

Step 1: Get the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card by 5 PM ET

Step 2: Research the City in Asia You Want to Visit That Hainan Flies to That Also Has Hilton Hotels

I did some of the research for you assuming you have 80,000 Hilton HHonors point to work with. These are some of the best deals I’ve found in cities where Hainan flies in Asia. There are probably more. Please let us know in the comments section if you find any.

Category 1 hotels – 5,000 points a night, but the fifth night free for Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Cardholders, so you could potentially book up to 20 nights for free

  • Double Tree by Hilton Shenyang in Shenyang, China
  • Double Tree by Hilton Beijing in Beijing, China

Category 2 hotels – 10,000 points a night, but the fifth night free for Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Cardholders, so you could potentially book up to 10 nights for free.

  • Hilton Heifi in Heifi, China
  • Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi in Hanoi, Vietnam

 Category 3 hotels – cost 20,000 points a night, but the fifth night free for Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Cardholders, so you could potentially book up to 5 nights for free.

  • Hilton Chongqing in Chongquing, China
  • Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Chongqing North in Chongquing, China
  • Hilton Shijiazhuang in Shijiazhuang, China
  • Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Xiamen – Wuyuan Bay in Xiamen, China
  • Hilton Haikou Meilan in Haikou, China
  • Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Guangzhou in Guangzhou, China
  • Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand
  • While you might not want to stay out at the Narita airport in Tokyo for five nights, the Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport hotel is a Category 3 hotel and costs 20,000 points a night. It could be useful for an overnights after a flight or before a flight out of Tokyo Narita.

Category 5 hotel – 30,000 points per night. Pricey, but it could be used for two nights of a trip compounded with other cheaper hotels. It’s a beautiful property.

Step 3: Meet the Minimum Spending Requirement for the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

Spend $2,000 within three months of the account opening and you’ll get 75,000 bonus points. As you get at least two points per dollar on everyday spending (three points for every dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations, and six points for every dollar spent at a Hilton) you’ll accrue at least another 4,000 points just from meeting the minimum spending requirement. The most you would have to spend to get to 80,000 points is $500 more, and then you would have enough points to book 20 free nights in a Hilton Category 1 hotel10 free nights in Category 2 Hiltons, or 5 free nights in Category 3 Hiltons.

Step 4: Accumulate Alaska Airlines miles by opening the Alaska Airlines Cards

If you don’t already have a stash of them, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card earns 25,000 miles just for signing up. There is no minimum spending requirement.

While I can not directly link to the current Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card earns 25,000 miles after your first purchase.

While I can not directly link to the current Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Starpoints also transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred.

Step 5: Book your Alaska Airlines Award Flying Hainan

Hainan’s award space is excellent for two passengers on most flights, but it’s still better to book airline awards before hotel awards since hotel awards aren’t as restrictive with availability. Airline awards are capacity controlled while hotel loyalty programs will you give you the last room available.

Read this post on booking Hainan flights with Alaska miles.

Step 6: Book your Hilton hotels with your Hilton HHonors Points

And pat yourself on the back for being truly resourceful.

Bottom Line

Hainan is the newest redeemable partner of Alaska Airlines, whose miles are easy to collect since the cards that earn them have no minimum spending requirement. You can fly from the United States to all over Asia for 60,000 Alaska Airlines miles roundtrip in Economy or 100,000 Alaska Airlines miles roundtrip in Business Class, with a flat bed. If you open the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card by 5 PM today, you can get the 75,000 point sign-up bonus before it disappears, and book 20 free nights in a Hilton Category 1 hotel10 free nights in Category 2 Hiltons, or 5 free nights in Category 3 Hiltons for your trip to Asia.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

6

Alaska Airlines has massively devalued its award charts to fly Emirates with zero notice. That’s devastating because Alaska miles were the best way to book Emirates A380 First Class, my second favorite product behind Etihad A380 First Class.

Emirates is most famous for having showers and bars on the A380 for First Class passengers.

Until yesterday, you could book Emirates First Class at slightly expensive/kind of reasonable prices:

  • USA to Dubai: 90,000 Alaska miles one way in First Class
  • USA to Dubai to Asia/Africa/Europe: 100,000 Alaska miles one way in First Class (2-4 flights total)

Say bye-bye to those those prices. Today, Emirates First Class prices have gone up 67%-100%.

  • USA to Middle East/India: 150,000 Alaska miles one way
  • USA to rest of Asia or Europe: 180,000 Alaska miles one way
  • USA to Africa: 200,000 Alaska miles one way

Business Class prices were also gutted, though that’s less of a blow to me personally. Here are the full charts for Africa and Asia. Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.59.25 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.59.33 AM

Emirates has apparently forgotten to update its Europe award chart. It still shows the old prices.
Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.57.10 AMDon’t get too excited. Not only do new higher prices apply to Emirates First Class awards to Europe that connect in Dubai…

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.56.50 AM

…but the same 180,000 miles one way applies to the nonstop route from JFK to Milan that is just over seven hours in the air.
Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.58.27 AM

So the current Emirates award chart to Europe is a lie. Ordinarily I wouldn’t do anything about it, but if you think a no-notice devaluation is as much horse***t as I do, especially when aggressively selling its miles at a discount simultaneously, then you might want to call Alaska to book Emirates awards to Europe and point phone agents to the posted award chart if they try to charge you 180,000 miles one way.

How to Fight Back

You should tweet @AlaskaAir with your displeasure. They will notice, and I think will be far less likely to make a no-notice devaluation in the future. If you aren’t feeling creative, just retweet my tweet.

Best Way to Book Emirates First Class Now

Japan Airlines miles, transfer partner of SPG Starpoints. I’ll have more on this option soon.

Bottom Line

Devaluations stink.

Major devaluations stink more. (Please do it the Aeroplan way of small yearly devaluations with a few months notice instead.)

No-notice major devaluation stink the most.

They are plainly unethical. For weeks Alaska has been selling its miles with a bonus to entice you to buy. This is a revenue stream in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually for them.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 12.15.13 PM

The implied promise is that you buy the miles and redeem them at the stated award chart prices, and then those prices change with no warning. I am sure someone got caught out on this sale with the no-notice Emirates devaluation, and that is slimy as all get out, Alaska.

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

6

Alaska Airlines miles can now be used to book Hainan Airlines! Award space is searchable on alaskaair.com, insanely cheap, and widely available to Asia, though there are mild fuel surcharges.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.44.33 PM

The partnership was announced last year, and the Alaska-Hainan page originally said award bookings would be available in November 2015. That changed to “early 2016” and then “March 30, 2016.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 12.58.19 PM

The Routes

Hainan Airlines flies from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle to Beijing, Shanghai, and Changsha, China with connections throughout China and Asia. Here are its flights from Beijing, which it serves from Boston, Chicago, San Jose, and Seattle:

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.14.41 PM

The Product

Hainan Airlines flies 787 Dreamliners to the United States with flat beds in Business Class (the highest cabin).

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.07.22 PMThe layout is the typical 2-2-2 in each row, so choose a middle seat to have aisle access and a seatmate with aisle access, so he doesn’t have to climb over you.Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.07.29 PM

Award Price

Miles Price

Alaska has a different chart for every partner to every region.

Incredibly, in 2016 after huge devaluations in the last few years from American Airlines, United, and Delta, especially in premium cabins, Alaska offers up a chart that looks like it is for travel to Europe in 2011.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.44.33 PM

You’re reading that right: 50,000 miles one way in a flat bed on flights that are over 13 hours, and connect anywhere else you’d like in Asia for no additional miles, including places like Bangkok, Phuket, and Taipei.

By the way, my guesses last month were for cheap prices, but even my guesses were too high:

  • One way in economy between USA and Asia: 35,000 Alaska miles
  • One way in Business between USA and Asia: 55,000 Alaska miles

Now before you go and book these. Remember that Alaska also has an insanely cheap award chart to fly Cathay Pacific, which is a slightly better product (and has no fuel surcharges.)

Alaska charges 50,000 miles one way in Cathay Pacific Business Class to Asia or 70,000 miles one way in Cathay Pacific First Class.

Fuel Surcharges

There are fuel surcharges when redeeming Alaska miles on Hainan. A one way award has $177 in out of pocket expenses…

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.45.04 PM…which is $23 in taxes, $141 in fuel surcharges, and $12.50 as a partner award booking fee from Alaska.
Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.46.31 PM

This is a bummer, but the very low miles price will make the out of pocket cost bearable for many. For instance, American Airlines charges 70,000 miles one way in Business Class to China and Southeast Asia. I’d happily pay $150 in fuel surcharges and fees to save 20,000 miles.

Especially because out of pocket costs don’t really have to come out of pocket.

Use your Citi Prestige® Card to pay the taxes and fuel surcharges, and the $250 airfare/airline fee credit will take care of them, so you are not out of pocket at all.

 

Roundtrip awards have $282 in fuel surcharges, which is just more than the Prestige’s Air Travel Credit for a single year.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 3.03.15 PM

Award Space

Award space is searchable on alaskaair.com. Award space is excellent for two passengers on most flights, as I anticipated.

Airlines always seem to (at least initially) offer excellent award space to their first American partners. Americans dominate the frequent flyer world, and until Hainan sees how many of us have Alaska miles and want to use them to fly to Asia, it will probably underestimate us and offer tons of award space.

Routing Rules

You cannot combine partners on Alaska awards. You either need to fly only Hainan or Hainan and Alaska.

You can get a free stopover en route on a one way award or two on a roundtrip! See both Beijing and Phuket for 50,000 miles.

Bottom Line

Alaska miles are so cool because of the diverse array of partners that reaches across alliances and even include non-alliance airlines like Hainan.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.35.49 PM

Redeem Alaska Miles on These Airlines. (AeroMexico “temporarily unavailable.”)

Hainan is the newest redeemable partner.

You can still churn Alaska Airlines credit cards.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

4

At midnight Central Time, the American Airlines devaluation struck.

However, you can still book American Airlines flight at the old prices if you use Alaska or Etihad miles. I don’t know how long this will last, maybe a few days or months, until they notice and ape American’s higher prices.

Let’s back up a little bit.

It just so happens that Alaska Airlines and Etihad Airways, partners of American Airlines, charge the same number of miles for American Airlines flights as American Airlines did until yesterday. Both airlines even allow the booking of off peak awards on the same off peak dates as American allowed until yesterday.

I say “it just so happens” because there is nothing expected or ordinary about this. British Airways, another American Airlines partner never charged the same number of miles for American Airlines flights as American Airlines did, nor did it have discounts for American Airlines off peak awards. As a general rule: different miles, different rules, different chart. But for whatever reason, Alaska and Etihad decided to copy American’s chart when using Alaska or Etihad miles to redeem American flights.

And those copied charts are still in effect today.

Using Alaska Miles

For instance, if you go to alaskaair.com and search for an award to Buenos Aires in May…

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.58.06 PM

…you see a lot of flights for 20,000 miles.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.59.20 PM Those are the price you would have paid yesterday for American Airlines off peak awards.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.59.38 PMThat is particularly amazing because American Airlines did away with off peak awards to Southern South America today. The same award costs 30,000 American Airlines miles today.

Alaska has different charts for every airline to every region. You can find the charts for using Alaska miles to Europe here. American Airlines awards still show yesterday’s generous off peak dates and price instead of today’s less generous dates and 22,500 mile price.
Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 2.00.08 PM

Using Etihad Miles

Similarly, Etihad’s chart for flying American Airlines flights is the same as it was yesterday when it matched American Airlines’ old chart.

Here is a full post on using Etihad miles to book American Airlines flights.

What This Doesn’t Mean

These are Alaska and Etihad charts for flying American Airlines airplanes.

You can NOT use these charts to fly other American Airlines partners. For instance, don’t expect to call Etihad and say, “Hi, I found great award space to Sydney in First Class on aa.com that flies Qantas, and I want to pay 72,500 Etihad miles to book it.” Qantas is a partner of American Airlines, not Etihad. (And if it were a partner of Etihad, it would have its own award chart. The chart in this post is for flying airplanes that say American Airlines on the side.)

Getting Alaska Airlines and Etihad Miles

Thank You Points transfer 1:1 to Etihad miles.

The Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card come with 50,000 and 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points respectively after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. You can get both and meet both minimum spending requirements for 96,000 ThankYou Points, more than enough for three roundtrips to Europe during the current promotion.

SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. Right now the SPG cards have their biggest bonuses ever. The Alaska Airlines credit cards from Bank of America are churnable.

How Long Will This Last?

Etihad and Alaska clearly made conscious decisions to copy American Airlines’ chart (for whatever reason, this is actually unusual.) Now that the AA chart has changed, I assume the other charts will change. We will see how long that takes.

If you want to book American Airlines flights, for the moment, you should use Alaska and Etihad miles.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Starpoints can transfer to 30 different types of airline miles by logging into your account and going to this page.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.08.39 PM

For every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, Starwood adds 5,000 bonus points. That means for 1:1 transfer partners, 20k SPG points in your account equals 25,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.08.20 PM

The best transfer partner for your Starpoints depends on your trip goal. There are scenarios under which at least a dozen of the partners would be your best option. However, I think there are four that are generally the best option for a large number of awards.

  1. Asiana Miles
  2. Aeroplan Miles during a frequent transfer bonus
  3. Alaska Miles
  4. American Airlines miles today

1. Asiana Miles

In my Top 11 Most Valuable Miles post, I have Asiana miles worth 2 cents each.

High Value Awards: USA to Southern South America in Business Class for 35k Miles and no fuel surcharges, USA to Europe in Lufthansa First for 50k Miles Plus Fuel Surcharges

To some regions, Asiana’s award chart is so under-priced that some awards are a good deal even after fuel surcharges. Plus, I love flying to South America, and no Star Alliance flights to South America have fuel surcharges, meaning I get the insanely good award chart without having to pay much cash out of pocket.

There is an Asiana credit card, but it only earns a 10,000 mile sign up bonus, 3x on Asiana purchases, and 2x on gas and groceries, so the only way to get Asiana miles in bulk is through Starpoints transfers.

2. Aeroplan Miles During a Transfer Bonus

I value Aeroplan miles only at 1.4 cents each because its chart is fair, but not cheap, and it collects fuel surcharges on many partners, but not nearly all.

High Value Awards: USA to Western Europe in Business Class or Southern South America for 55k miles and no fuel surcharges, USA to Asia in Business Class for 75k or 77.5k miles and no fuel surcharges

As you can see, those are not nearly as cheap as the listed Asiana awards, but Aeroplan has frequent transfer bonuses during which it offers extra miles for transferring in SPG points. There is one running through April 18, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 1.19.21 PM

During the current transfer bonus, 160,000 Starpoints = 255,000 Aeroplan miles, which is enough to offset the not-quite-cheap chart as long as you only fly partners with no fuel surcharges on Aeroplan awards:

  • United
  • Singapore
  • South African
  • Egyptair
  • Air China
  • Ethiopian
  • Avianca
  • TACA
  • Copa
  • Swiss
  • Turkish
  • Brussels
  • Scandinavian

Aeroplan is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

3. Alaska Airlines Miles

I value Alaska miles at 1.75 cents each for the cheap award charts and variety of partners from oneworld, SkyTeam, and un-allied airlines.

High Value AwardsEmirates First Class on an A380 costs 100,000 miles one way for two flights from USA to Africa, Asia, or Europe; USA to Fiji to New Zealand or Australia for only 55,000 miles one way in Business Class with a free stopover in FijiUSA to Southern South America in AeroMexico Business Class for 45,000 miles (temporarily unbookable); Cathay Pacific First Class to Asia plus Business Class to South Africa for 70,000 miles total with free stopover

Beyond SPG transfers, there are churnable Alaska Airlines credit cards to pick up the miles.

 

4. American Airlines Miles Today

If you transfer to American Airlines miles today, and they post by Monday, you’ll have miles I value at 1.8 cents each. if they arrive Tuesday, you missed the devAAluation, and they’ll be worth 1.5 cents each to me. Transfers take 2-3 days to get to AA usually.

High Value Awards: Cathay Pacific First Class to SE Asia for 67,500 miles one way; Etihad First Class to Middle East/Indian Subcontinent for 90,000 miles one way; off peak to Europe or Southern South America in economy for 20,000 miles one way; many, many more

Beyond SPG transfers, there are several American Airlines credit cards that earn miles.

Do you have a different favorite transfer partner for SPG points? Share it in the comments.

Don’t forget the SPG personal and business credit cards are currently offering their biggest sign up bonuses ever–35,000 points each.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Later today, an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage to Honolulu will intercept a total solar eclipse, much to the delight of the 163 passengers on board.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 1.01.53 PM

That’s not by accident. Alaska Airlines altered the flight schedule and will alter the flight path to catch almost two minutes of the eclipse in flight after being alerted of the possibility by a veteran eclipse chaser. In fact over a dozen eclipse chasers got window seats on the flight for the rare opportunity. (Hopefully they booked it with 12,500 Avios one way!)

Check out the full story on the eclipse, Alaska’s plan for it, and how you can track the flight in this Alaska Airlines blog post.

I caught the 1991 total solar eclipse when I was four years old. It was the last total solar eclipse on American soil, but it was only visible from Hawaii. The last total solar eclipse on the American mainland was 1979. The next one is next year and will sweep across the continental United States from South Carolina to Oregon. Umbraphiles are already making plans for the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017. More information here.

http://www.eclipse2017.org/eclipse2017_main.htm
From http://www.eclipse2017.org/eclipse2017_main.htm

Hat Tip @WandrMe on Twitter

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

Alaska Airlines miles can be used to book Hainan Airlines flights starting March 30, 2016!

The partnership was announced last year, and the Alaska-Hainan page originally said award bookings would be available in November 2015. That changed to “early 2016.” And now we have (hopefully) the real date: March 30, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 12.58.19 PM

This is a huge deal because I expect the awards to be cheap, award space to be excellent in economy and flat bed Business Class, and because Alaska miles are easy to get.

The Routes

Hainan Airlines flies from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle to Beijing, Shanghai, and Changsha, China with connections throughout China and Asia. Here are its flights from Beijing, which it serves from Boston, Chicago, San Jose, and Seattle:

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.14.41 PM

The Product

Hainan Airlines flies 787 Dreamliners to the United States with flat beds in Business Class (the highest cabin).

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.07.22 PM The layout is the typical 2-2-2 in each row, so choose a middle seat to have aisle access and a seatmate with aisle access, so he doesn’t have to climb over you.Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.07.29 PM

Award Price

Alaska publishes a different award chart for every partner, and it hasn’t published Hainan’s yet. But taking a look at its charts for American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Korean…

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.01.27 PM
Alaska-American Chart
Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.01.37 PM
Alaska-Cathay Pacific Chart
Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.01.52 PM
Alaska-Korean Chart

 

…here is my guess for the award prices to fly Hainan:

  • One way in economy between USA and Asia: 35,000 Alaska miles
  • One way in Business between USA and Asia: 55,000 Alaska miles

We’ll know soon enough whether those are the prices, whether Alaska makes all of Hainan’s Asian destinations one regions or splits them up, whether one way awards are half the price of roundtrips, and whether we can fly Hainan routes that don’t touch the USA, like Beijing to Tel Aviv.

If those were the prices, they would be a good deal, but not as good of a deal as paying 50,000 miles one way in Cathay Pacific Business Class or 70,000 miles one way in Cathay Pacific First Class.

Award Space

Hopefully award space will be searchable on alaskaair.com as it is for most, but not all, partners. When we get a look at the award space, I expect it to be excellent. Why?

  • Airlines always seem to (at least initially) offer excellent award space to their first American partners. Americans dominate the frequent flyer world, and until Hainan sees how many of us have Alaska miles and want to use them to fly to Asia, it will probably underestimate us and offer tons of award space.
  • Hainan offers really cheap Business Class fares, from $1,358 roundtrip in the past. That’s an airline that isn’t protecting its cabin and probably won’t mind selling the seats at a steep discount to Alaska (which is what happens when we redeem Alaska miles to fly Hainan.)

I’ll let you know whether this prediction holds when we see the award space.

Bottom Line

Alaska miles are so cool because of the diverse array of partners that reaches across alliances and even include non-alliance airlines like Hainan.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.35.49 PM
Redeem Alaska Miles on These Airlines. (AeroMexico “temporarily unavailable.”)

Hainan is the newest redeemable partner. Redemptions start March 30, 2016.

You can still churn Alaska Airlines credit cards.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

American Airlines off peak awards are one of the best deals with miles. At the moment, for between two and seven months a year, American Airlines miles can book discounted economy awards from the United States to (one way price):

  • Mexico: 12,500 miles
  • Caribbean: 12,500 miles
  • Central America and Northern South America: 15,000 miles
  • Hawaii: 17,500 miles
  • Southern South America: 20,000 miles
  • Europe: 20,000 miles
  • Korea and Japan: 25,000 miles

Read more about American Airlines off peak awards here. And read this about how American Airlines off peak awards change on March 22, 2016.

Alaska Airlines miles can be used to book American Airlines award space plus these other partners (except AeroMexico is “unavailable until further notice” and Hainan “will be available for booking in early 2016.”).

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.35.49 PM

A truism of miles is that the miles you’re using–not the airline you’re flying–determines which award chart you use, so we look at the Alaska Airlines award charts when booking American Airlines flights with Alaska Airlines miles.

Alaska has tons of award charts, broken down by the airline you want to fly and where you want to go. On several of those charts, Alaska lists discounts for flying American Airlines economy flights during the off peak windows.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.02.37 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.02.45 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.02.13 AM

Alaska offers discounted economy awards from the United States on American Airlines flights to (one way price):

  • Central America and Northern South America: 15,000 miles
  • Southern South America: 20,000 miles
  • Europe: 20,000 miles
  • Korea and Japan: 25,000 miles

For those regions, Alaska offers the discounts on the exact same dates as American Airlines offers its off peak discounts. Oddly, American Airlines flights to Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean do not see off peak discounts when you book them with Alaska miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.49.46 AM

American Airlines charges 12,500 AA miles for these flight, but Alaska doesn’t offer off peak pricing on American Airlines flights to Mexico.

Stopovers & Free One Ways

How can you trick out these off peak Alaska Airlines awards that fly American Airlines flights?

First you have to understand them. The discounted award prices when using Alaska miles apply only to American Airlines flights, not flights on other partners. For instance, on March 1, you can use 20,000 Alaska miles from New York to London (off peak price), but the British Airways flight on the same route costs 32,500 Alaska miles because off peak award pricing doesn’t apply to other partners. (Also note the dastardly fuel surcharge on the British Airways flight.)

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.49.38 AM

Second, you have to understand two rules for all Alaska Airlines awards:

  1. Alaska Airlines one way awards can fly only one partner OR one partner plus Alaska. For example, a valid award can fly all American Airlines flights or Alaska + American Airlines flights, but not American Airlines + British Airways flights.
  2. Alaska Airlines one way awards can have one stopover for as long as you’d like, subject only to the rule that all flights must be flown within one year of the original booking.

The first rule limits our routings, but the second rule opens up chances for stopovers or free one ways. To search for an award with a stopover, tick the “Multi-city” circle, and search from your origin to your stopover and from your stopover to your destination.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.53.41 AM The stopover is free because the award still prices at the off peak price, in this case 20,000 Alaska miles from the Unites States to Southern South America.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.53.59 AM

This off peak itinerary has a one month stop in New York and includes both Alaska Airlines and American Airlines flights.Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.54.33 AM If you live in Seattle, that would be a one month stopover in New York.

If you live in New York that would be a free one way from Seattle to New York, followed by a one way award to Rio de Janeiro a month later. This shift in perspective illustrates that a free one way is really just a stopover at your home airport.

Similarly here is an off peak award to Japan for 25,000 miles one way with a two month stop in Chicago on all American Airlines flights.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.59.03 AM

If you live in Tampa, that’s quite a stopover in Chicago, and you might prefer to shorten it to a few days. If you live in Chicago, then it is a free one way from Tampa to Chicago, followed by the main award to Tokyo a few months later.

Two Free One Ways

Because you get a free stopover each direction, you can book a roundtrip with two stopovers or two free one ways.

Bottom Line

Alaska Airlines miles can be used to book many American Airlines flights at off peak prices. American Airlines miles can book off peak awards to more places and on more partners, but Alaska Airlines miles can book off peak awards that include stopovers or free one ways.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

Until March 31, 2016, you can buy 56,000 or more Alaska Airlines miles for 2.11 cents each.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.31.23 PM

The sale is structured as a bonus on the normal number of miles you’d receive. The bonus is tiered, so the biggest 40% bonus comes from purchasing 40,000 miles at the normal price of about 2.96 cents each after tax.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.56.24 PM

To buy 56,000 miles (40,000 + 16,000 bonus) during this sale costs $1,182.50, which is 2.11 cents per mile. This is not the best sale we’ve seen. Last year, we saw Alaska miles on sale for 1.97 cents each, but 2.11 cents each is the normal sale price.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 8.04.04 PM

I don’t think Alaska miles are worth 2.11 cents each, but they are worth close to that, and if you have a specific redemption in mind, it isn’t hard to get more than 2.11 cents of value per mile.

  • What are the best redemptions for Alaska miles?
  • Does this miles purchase count as airfare or travel spending for category bonuses?
  • How many miles can you buy during the promotion?

Airlines on which You Can Redeem Alaska Miles

Here are the Alaska partners on which you can redeem. (Except AeroMexico is “unavailable until further notice” and Hainan “will be available for booking in early 2016.”)

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.35.49 PM

Five Favorite Redemptions

Here are my five favorite redemptions with Alaska miles:

1. Emirates A380 First Class

Emirates First Class on an A380 costs 100,000 miles one way for two flights to Africa, Asia, or Europe.

DSCN1588Emirates First Class

Here is my review of Emirates First Class on the A380. This is my favorite First Class in the world.

2. Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class costs 70,000 miles one way from the United States to Johannesburg with a free stopover in Hong Kong.

Here is my review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

3. Fiji Airways Business Class

You can fly from the United States to Fiji to New Zealand or Australia for only 55,000 Alaska miles one way in Business Class with a free stopover in Fiji.

4. AeroMexico Business Class

You can fly from the United States to Southern South America like Brazil or Argentina in AeroMexico Business Class for 45,000 Alaska miles one way. Try to get at least one segment on AeroMexico’s Dreamliner.

Here is my review of AeroMexico Business Class on the Dreamliner.

AeroMexico awards have been unavailable since October 2015. Hopefully they come back soon.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.37.19 PM

5. Icelandair with Stopover

You can fly from the United States to Europe with a stopover in Iceland for as long as you’d like for 27,500 Alaska miles in economy and 55,000 miles in Business Class.

There are not many good options to Iceland with miles, and this is the best even though there are small fuel surcharges on the award.

Alaska Airlines Award Routing Rules

Alaska Airlines is extremely generous allowing a stopover on one way awards, anywhere you’d like en route.

Here are the basics for redemptions of Alaska miles.

Logistics of Buying Alaska Miles

Unlike many miles sales when you are capped at how many miles you can buy, with Alaska miles sales, you can generally make several maximum purchases to get all the miles you need.

Remember that Alaska Airlines miles sales are handled through points.com, so they are not considered airfare or travel purchases for the purposes of earning a category bonus on your credit card.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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