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On Sunday I wrote a reminder that the current 35% SPG Starpoints sale is finishing on the 29th December, and mentioned that I’d be sharing some of my ‘greatest hits’ redemptions this week to show why you might want to take advantage of the sale.
As I demonstrated in that post, through the Starpoint sale, you can effectively purchase a vast range of different frequent flyer miles for 1.4p each. For some types of miles (like BA Avios) that’s far too expensive, but for more ‘exotic’ miles, it can make a lot of sense. Have a read here for the details.
Business Class to East and West Coast of North America on the same one way trip for 50,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles – £700.
A one way Business Class ticket on American Airlines, booked using Alaska Miles, would set you back about £700 if you bought the 50,000 Miles via the SPG Starpoint sale. That’s really not bad at all, particularly if you want to head to the West Coast or to somewhere where cash fares are usually high.
Alaska Mileage Plan is brilliant though, because when you redeem Miles you can build in a free stopover for as long as you want en route!
So, for example, stop off in Philadelphia (or New York, or Chicago, or Dallas, etc) for a few days on the way to San Francisco (or Seattle, or Los Angeles, etc)- all for the same 50,000 Miles.
Note that the taxes seem quite high, but ~$200 of that is UK Air Passenger Duty. If you were booking in the other direction or starting from somewhere else in Europe, it would be much lower.
Yep, the pricing is exactly the same for Hawaii too!
What about Economy?
Obviously flying Business Class is more fun, but if you’re actually buying the Miles, then Economy might be a more prudent option. The good news is the deal is, perhaps, even better!
For travel on ‘Off-Peak’ dates (between January 10 – March 14, and November 1 – December 14), you only need 20,000 Miles for a one way to Hawaii (or anywhere in North America) with a stopover for as long as you want somewhere en route. During ‘Peak’ dates, you need 30,000 Miles.
Via the SPG Starpoint sale, you can effectively buy 20,000 Miles for ~ £280 (if we stick with the~1.4p per Mile price for the sake of simplicity, though the exact cost per Mile depends on how many Starpoints you transfer).
Note that the award prices mentioned here are only valid until the end of the year. For bookings from 1st January 2018, Business Class will rise to 57,500 Miles and Economy ‘Off Peak’ to 22,500. Economy Peak stays the same. You can book now though and still get the current prices, regardless of when you want to actually travel, as long as it’s within the current booking horizon.
What else do I need to know?
Alaska Mileage Plan is amazing, but it is also a little quirky.
The first thing you need to know is that rather than a standard award chart encompassing all partners, Alaska charges different amounts of Miles depending on which partner airline you fly with. Everything above relates only to redeeming Alaska Miles for American Airlines flights. You can check out the various award charts here.
Due to that peculiarity, you can’t mix different partners on the same award. If you want to redeem for American Airlines flights, the only additional airline that can be used on that award is Alaska itself.
The precise rules are a little vague, but the Alaska award search tool doesn’t like backtracking very much in my experience (Craig begs to differ, so YMMV). It is certainly possible though, for example, to fly from London to Los Angeles, stopover for as long as you like, and then fly back East to New York – all on the same one-way award ticket! Clearly this can lead to some truly extraordinary value, particularly if you combine an Alaska award like that with a one way back across the Atlantic using a distance-based programme like BA Avios, or a cheap cash ticket on Norwegian. It may require a good amount of patience when searching though.
To add stopovers you need to use the multi-city search option here.
The examples above are all one way – you can therefore have 2 stopovers (one in each direction) if you book your flights as 2 one ways, which can be incredible if you really want to explore a region.
There are plenty of good reasons to consider buying SPG Starpoints with a 35% discount, but the ability to transfer them to Alaska Mileage Plan is one of the best. I’ll be covering more Alaska redemption highlights and other SPG transfer sweetspots throughout the week!
What’s your favourite use for SPG Starpoints?