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Alaska airline miles
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Contributors to this thread:
razorsharp 18-Jan-15
Nick Muche 18-Jan-15
Halibutman 18-Jan-15
Milo 18-Jan-15
Nick Muche 18-Jan-15
Nick Muche 18-Jan-15
BLG 18-Jan-15
Milo 19-Jan-15
razorsharp 19-Jan-15
IdyllwildArcher 19-Jan-15
weekender21 20-Jan-15
razorsharp 20-Jan-15
IdyllwildArcher 20-Jan-15
razorsharp 20-Jan-15
TD 20-Jan-15
Milo 21-Jan-15
76aggie 15-Apr-15
TEmbry 15-Apr-15
killinstuff 15-Apr-15
glass eye 15-Apr-15
muskeg 17-Apr-15
From: razorsharp
18-Jan-15
Looking at flight options for this August. How do you get the most bang for your buck? I have heard that some fly almost free to Alaska but is complicated when you actually start plugging in dates and cities.

From: Nick Muche
18-Jan-15
Are you flying with anyone else? If so, use your Companion Fare and you'll cut the cost in half.

Using miles can be tricky and you'll have to try a few different things to see what works best.

If you end up paying for your flight, buy one way tickets so you get more miles. Meaning... Buy your flight here, pay for it and then buy your return flight. You'll get more miles that way.

From: Halibutman
18-Jan-15
Using miles with Alaska is a breeze. I have no idea how or where or who seems to think its tricky.

Heck, they GIVE you a pile of miles just for getting the credit card. It used to be enough to go up and back once for free.

As for the two one way tickets concept? How is that more miles? I think you get double miles on Alaska air purchases and you'd almost assuredly be paying more for those tickets, so I guess that's true.

It's true that the fares vary, even when using miles. If you're cost concious, you can select dates based on that variance. It's pretty predictable and they openly show you the required miles for a ticket.

From: Milo
18-Jan-15
The downside of buying 2 one-way tickets is that if you need to change or cancel your reservation, you will be hit with 2 change fees.

The companion ticket you get with the credit card is a good way to go, but it doesn't exactly cut your cost in half. First of all, you way you pay $75 a year for the card, then you pay $99 for the companion fee plus the taxes which vary on your route. For example, I am flying on a companion fare next weekend from ANC to MSP and the taxes are $66. Add it all up and my companion ticket costs about $245. I include the annual fee because its the only card I've ever paid an annual fee.

Also, If you use your companion ticket on a one-way, you're obviously only getting half the value.

One downside of miles, is that they don't let you switch to a partner airline. For example, if you have a roundtrip ticket to Kodiak on miles, you won't be able to switch to an Era flight to get back even though they are a partner. They will switch a cash ticket. Alaska flys only one flight per day to Kodiak and the other 6(?) are operated by Era.

The Alaska credit card and mileage plan is a still a good deal, especially for instate travel, but make sure you know the details.

From: Nick Muche
18-Jan-15

The companion rate is a steal. It sure is nice to use that 6-700$ savings on other stuff.

From: Nick Muche
18-Jan-15
Also one way tickets do not cost more.

From: BLG
18-Jan-15
I very rarely buy a ticket to fly out & back. About the only time I do is when the airlines are running a super deal going to my destination though that is happening less than it used to. Of course all this means you have to be doing one of two things, either you fly often and build miles on purchased tickets or you spend a lot and always use your alaska airlines card. No problem at all booking however, just don't wait till 2 weeks before you want to fly....

From: Milo
19-Jan-15
Razorsharp, Looks like you are coming from Ok, in which case I would look very hard at the baggage fees. If you are planning on hauling meat back (aka, excess and/or overweight baggage), then Alaska Air wins that battle hands down regardless of how you buy your ticket.

From: razorsharp
19-Jan-15
Ok, great info guys, thanks!

19-Jan-15
You want to buy your tickets 3 months in advance. It can make a difference of 50% of the ticket price sometime around 2 months out.

I fly to AK 6 times a year now and have gotten 3 "free" 1 way tickets just from the sign on bonus and using it for tickets and daily purchases in 6 months. I pay for everything except gasoline with the card and pay it off each month.

Haven't even used the companion tickets yet and will probably use them to go to Hawaii as I won't be taking my wife or kids to Kotzebue.

Remember, AK charges you 50 bucks for your checked bags if you're not a Club 49 member, which requires an AK address to join. There is no wt limit for your carry-on though, so I usually bring a 70 lb carry on and put it over someone else's head.

If you live in SoCal and are hunting out of Kotzebue, I can most likely bring your meat back free as I go up with all my food and come back with empty bags that I check for free with my Club 49 membership.

From: weekender21
20-Jan-15
Alaska Air has a great milage program. I've flown free from Hawaii on my last two AK hunts.

From: razorsharp
20-Jan-15
So I see that you can also buy miles. For instance, 35K miles cost 962.50 +7.5% Govt tax. that would be cheaper thanusing my card and earning miles.

20-Jan-15
Just use your card for daily purchases and pay it off each month instead of using your debit card or cash. You get points and it doesn't cost you anything if you pay the balance off each month.

Buying miles doesn't turn out to get you a cheaper ticket.

I've flown one way from SoCal to Kotzebue for 20K miles, three times now.

You get 25k just for signing up. Use the CC and pay it off each month instead of using your debit card and if you get it now, you shouldn't have any problem paying for your return flight with just miles by June which is when you need to make your reservation.

I also use it for draws. It's great, you book the app in WY (I think NM refunds the card, can't remember in CO) on the CC, get the points, pay off the card, then if you don't draw, they send you your money in check form - pay your house payment with it. Free points.

From: razorsharp
20-Jan-15
I have the card and have 28,330 miles right now(including the the 25K free miles)

I use it for everything I would buy anyway and pay it off ASAP to avoid interest.

From: TD
20-Jan-15
The companion fare is only once per year I think???

Going to AZ this year and using the companion fare it saved about $100-150 per ticket when combined and split.

The AK regular fare was a good bit higher than some other airlines to the same place, about the same times. Getting one ticket for $100 instead of $800 was a better deal. But without it their rates were pretty high. AK was going to be around $1600 for two round trips, others were in the $1200 range, around $200 more per ticket.

From: Milo
21-Jan-15
TD, Yes the companion fare is only once per year, unless your spouse gets a separate card as most Alaskan's do. It's still $75/year for each card but you get 2 companion tickets. I have found the exact same scenario that you did -- The per person ticket was a couple hundred cheaper on another airline, but the total with a companion was a few hundred cheaper going with Alaska.

Unlike razorsharp, I do carry a balance on my card but the Alaska card actually has one of the lower interest rates out there. Not ideal, but others tend to be worse.

One downside of the Alaska card is traveling internationally (including Canada) - they will ding you with a foreign transaction fee of 3%. Better off to get a no foreign fee card for that use.

From: 76aggie
15-Apr-15
I am in the habit of paying everything I can with it and paying the balance in full each month and the points really rack up. Flew for free last summer on a fishing trip and will again in the fall for a hunting trip. I was under the impression you could use points for a free flight in conjunction with the "free" companion fare but I don't think that is the case. To use the companion fare, one person has to pay full price. It is a heck of a deal and someone on Bowsite was the one who turned me on to this card several years ago.

From: TEmbry
15-Apr-15
I have only had the card for less than 3 years now... I've already booked a round trip free from Nashville, TN to ANC. Roundtrip from ANC to Dillingham. Roundtrip from Missoula, MT to ANC. And still have $38k miles accrued for use next year. I will say that using them WITHIN the state of Alaska makes way more financial sense than flights to/from the lower 48. The miles required for in state flights are much less than flights to lower 48, despite the cash prices being nearly equal in many cases.

From: killinstuff
15-Apr-15
It's also better to call for reservations than going online. A customer service person on the phone can help you out, steer you to the right flight and get the most out of your points. I was booking on-line and they wanted 50'000 points to and 25'000 back. Picked up the phone and got it squared away and saved 25'000 points.

From: glass eye
15-Apr-15
Can't go wrong. Another thing that nobody has mentioned. Not only do I take my wife to Hawaii every year and she flies on the companion fare, but she also racks up points with AK Air even though she doesn't have a card. You don't need to have a card to accumulate miles, signing up is free. Again, she doesn't have a card and she currently has a little over 17,000 miles. We build points flying to Hawaii and cash them in flying to AK.

From: muskeg
17-Apr-15
I have been flying to AK for many years. I have belonged to the club also for many years, even when they gave actually Gold pennyweights instead of miles.

The rules have changed many times. Not long ago the best deals were use air miles and $'s but that is not good anymore with recent changes.

Watch for sales. They come out on Tuesdays. Sales on ticket prices and purchasing airline miles. The best ticket deals go very fast.

Sometimes I use airmails sometimes just purchase a ticket. Once you learn the website it's not that difficult to figure out the best deal.

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