Advanced Level Mileage Post: Final Day For The Best Hacks With Alaska’s American Award Chart

33
Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
DDMS IconNever Miss Another Deal - Follow DansDeals on Facebook

Update: Today is the final day to take advantage of the current Alaska award chart for flight on American before it’s devalued. It also the last day to take advantage of many of the off-peak award hacks listed below, though stopovers will remain free on one-way awards. 

Don’t forget that Alaska doesn’t charge a fee for awards cancelled at least 60 days before a flight!


Originally posted on 12/25:

Put on your thinking cap, it’s time for another DansDeals Advanced Level Mileage Post!

The last “Advanced Level Mileage Post” about United’s awesome Expert Mode can be found here.


Need Alaska miles? You can buy them with a 40% bonus here until 12/28. There is a limit of 84K miles per transaction, but there’s no limit on how many miles you can buy per year!

You can also buy Starpoints with 35% off until 12/29 here. 20K Starpoints converts into 25K Alaska miles.


I wrote the post-mortem on DansDeals seminars last year.

Between 2012-2015 I ran 15 DansDeals seminars which were attended by some 5,000 people with every cent of the tens of thousands of dollars from the admissions fees going to the non-profits that hosted each seminar. Schneur Wineberg lured me out of retirement earlier this year to run 4 sessions at his truly amazing Pesach on the Mountain program in Whistler, but due to factors mentioned in the post-mortem I consider myself mostly retired from my seminar days.

One of my favorite topics in the seminars was award chart hacking. It’s also the part where many beginners started to get hopelessly lost.

In 2014 American eliminated free stopovers on awards, which killed lots of award hacks. And then last year they devalued their award chart and shortened the off-peak award calendar.

However as I’ve talked about in seminars since then, Alaska maintained the old American award chart and off-peak dates.

Here are American’s old off-peak dates for awards that Alaska still uses for American awards:

Unfortunately Alaska will stop using the old American off-peak chart as of 1/1/18, but for the next week you can still book awards using it. Here is a summary of those changes.

You can search for the current award rates on American using Alaska miles here.

Note that Alaska doesn’t offer off-peak award pricing to Hawaii.

Effective on 1/1 off-peak awards for Latin America and Asia will be eliminated.

The only off-peak awards will be for travel to Europe and effective 1/1/18 those will only be available for travel between 1/10-3/14 and 11/1-12/14.

The good news is that Alaska will continue to allow free stopovers, even on one-way awards. But some of the cool pricing hacks will be going away.

Below are some examples of what you can still book through 12/31.

Start by searching for award availability on AA.com as their calendar search and nonstop saver award filter is better than Alaska’s. You must find MileSAAver awards availability as partners can’t book AAnytime awards:

 

Afte finding award space you can start searching those dates on AlaskaAir.com


Example 1: Hawaii+Asia in coach:

If you wanted to book a one-way flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles on 3/11/18 you would need to use 22.5K miles:

 

If you wanted to book a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on 9/18/18 you would need to use 32.5K miles:

 

But if you use Alaska’s all search options page, click on multi-city, click on use miles, and search for a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles on 3/11/18 and Los Angeles to Hong Kong on 9/18/18:

You’ll pay just 25K miles total instead of 55K miles total:

 

The reason for that is that Alaska allows a free stopover, even on one-way travel. Essentially Alaska is pricing this award as a one-way off peak flight from the US to Asia at 25K miles.

Now you may wonder, according to the off-peak chart above, a flight to Asia in September ought to be a peak award, which would cost 32.5K miles.

However since this journey is starting in Honolulu in March, which is off-peak season for Asia, it prices out the entire itinerary as Asia off-peak for 25K miles.

This is perfect if you’re flying to Hawaii and Asia in the same year as you can save miles by combining the return leg of the Hawaii trip with the outbound leg of the Asia trip.

After 1/1 the off-peak award option to Asia will be eliminated and the price for this would be 37.5K miles with a free stopover.


Example 2: Hawaii+Asia in business/first:

If you wanted to book a one-way flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles on 12/26/17 in first class you would need to use 47.5K miles:

 

If you wanted to book a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on 9/18/18 in business class you would need to use 50K miles:

But if you use Alaska’s all search options page, click on multi-city, click on use miles, and search for a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles on 12/26/17 and Los Angeles to Hong Kong on 9/18/18 you’ll pay 50K miles for both flights in premium cabins thanks to the free stopover instead of a total of 97.5K miles:

After 1/1 the cost for this award would be 70Kmiles with a free stopover.


Example 3: Hawaii+South America in coach:

If you wanted to book a one-way flight from Honolulu to NYC on 3/11/18 you would need to use 22.5K miles:

 

If you wanted to book a one-way flight from NYC to Sao Paulo on 6/24/18 you would need to use 30K miles. Incidentally, starting in 2018 Americans can finally visit Brazil without needing to apply for a Visa in advance!

 

But if you use Alaska’s all search options page, click on multi-city, click on use miles, and search for a flight from Honolulu to NYC on 3/11/18 and NYC to Sao Paulo on 6/24/18 you’ll pay just 20K miles for both flights thanks to the free stopover instead of a total of 52.5K miles:

 

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. And this isn’t magic, you can do it too.

The reason for this one is that Alaska charges just 20K miles for a one-way award between the US and Brazil off-peak.

Essentially Alaska is pricing this award as a one-way off peak flight from the US to Brazil at 20K miles. When priced individually there is a 22.5K award from Hawaii to the US and a 30K peak award from the US to Brazil.

Now you may wonder, according to the off-peak chart above, a flight to Brazil in June ought to be a peak award, which would cost 30K miles.

However since this journey is starting in Honolulu in March, which is off-peak season for Brazil, it prices out the entire itinerary as Brazil off-peak for 20K miles.

This is perfect if you’re flying to Hawaii and South America in the same year as you can save miles by combining the return leg of the Hawaii trip with the outbound leg of the South America trip.

After 1/1 the off-peak award option to South America will be eliminated and the price for this would be 30K miles with a free stopover.


Example 4: Miami+South America+Los Angeles in coach:

Let’s say you want to fly from Miami to NYC on March 1, NYC to Sao Paulo on May 9, Sao Paulo to NYC on May 22, and NYC to LA on 11/18. You can take advantage of 2 free stopovers and pay just 40K miles for the whole thing:

 

After 1/1 the off-peak award option to South America will be eliminated and the price for this would be 60K miles.


Example 5: South America+Los Angeles in business:

Let’s say you want to fly in lie-flat business class from Sao Paulo to NYC on January 25, and in lie-flat business class from NYC to LA on 11/19. You can take advantage of a free stopover and pay just 50K miles for the whole thing in business class or 62.5K miles in first class:

After 1/1 the business class to South America will be 57.5K miles and first class will be 85K miles. You can still get a free stopover.


Example 6: Hawaii+Europe in coach:

If you wanted to book a one-way flight from Honolulu to NYC on 12/26/17 you would need to use 22.5K miles:

 

If you wanted to book a one-way flight from NYC to London on 6/3/18 you would need to use 30K miles:

 

But if you use Alaska’s all search options page, click on multi-city, click on use miles, and search for a flight from Honolulu to NYC on 12/26/17 and NYC to London on 6/3/18 you’ll pay 20K miles for both flights thanks to the free stopover instead of a total of 52.5K miles:

The reason for this one is that Alaska charges just 20K miles for a one-way award between the US and Europe off-peak.

Essentially Alaska is pricing this award as a one-way off peak flight from the US to Europe at 20K miles. When priced individually there is a 22.5K award from Hawaii to the US and a 30K peak award from the US to Europe.

Now you may wonder, according to the off-peak chart above, a flight to Europe in June ought to be a peak award, which would cost 30K miles.

However since this journey is starting in Honolulu in December, which is off-peak season for Europe, it prices out the entire itinerary as Europe off-peak for 20K miles.

This is perfect if you’re flying to Hawaii and Europe in the same year as you can save miles by combining the return leg of the Hawaii trip with the outbound leg of the Europe trip.

After 1/1 the off-peak award option to Europe will be shortened will only be available for travel between 1/10-3/14 and 11/1-12/14. The price for this would be 30K miles with a free stopover, though if you go off-peak this award will cost 22.5K miles after 1/1.


Example 7: Europe+Cancun in coach:

Let’s say you want to fly from Paris to NYC on March 21 and NYC to Cancun on 11/13. You can take advantage of a free stopover and pay just 20K miles for the whole thing:

 

After 1/1 the off-peak award option to Europe will be shortened will only be available for travel between 1/10-3/14 and 11/1-12/14. The price for this would be 30K miles with a free stopover, though if you go off-peak this award will cost 22.5K miles after 1/1.


This is all just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless, though many of the best ones will end on 12/31.

However free stopovers will continue after 12/31 and there will still be many great opportunities to take advantage of free one-way trips as described above. However the hacking to pay less for 2 tickets than 1 ticket would cost will be going away on most routes and dates.

Confused? Try reading the post again and try using the examples in this post on AlaskaAir.com. 

Know of other hacks that I missed? Have suggestions for future advanced level posts? Hit the comments!

Leave a Reply

33 Comments On "Advanced Level Mileage Post: Final Day For The Best Hacks With Alaska’s American Award Chart"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

Sort by:   newest | oldest
PM

Thanks Dan, all those are very smart.
May be you can publish online a short version of your deck since you retired 🙂

Ml

Anything to Israel?
Or even if I get to Europe and buy a cheap ticket from there. Is this only worth it starting from Hawaii?

Josef.koney

That is Def very cool! Thanks for that! Waiting for the next post like this… I never went to a seminar, got into the game way too late…

Abe

+1 we were all born a little to late….and now we have to sift thru thousands of posts to find the gems…thanks @dan love this post ! Keep it going! So not hard to understand for anyone that’s a little interested and does some regular reading on ddf…. but we definitely need more like these. And btw @dan we understand with 1 example which would give you more time to write these good stuff… maybe one on *a ??

High end Hobo

Thanks Dan,

I really love these posts, there used to be more of this style writing, and would love to see it pick up again

MIMB

I couldn’t have said that any better myself. Would love to see those old posts start coming back

Hippy

Does Alaska allow a free stopover on domestic flights or flights from hawaii to the mainland? Ie OGG-LAX (stop) – NYC?

Also do they allow using AA and Alaska on the same itinerary?

Thanks

Jo

There are many of us just hoping for your advanced posts

Josh

Great post – a few quick questions:

1) can we use AA miles on Alaska air?
2) is there any “hack” for peak season?

Have 150k AA miles and can really only use them during summer

Szo

Can amex or chase points transfer to Alaska or to starpoints?
Can I book a la – nyc with a stop over in a different continent? Or that’s pushing for it?

SBP

Really looking to fly from NY to Australia in business
I have plenty of points in American, MR & SPG.

Any ideas on finding decent availability

CR

Would love to take advantage of this… 1st leg of trip would be at the end of the summer however 2nd part of the trip I want to take is not yet bookable on alaskaair since it would be in 2019. Any idea if I can change the date for 2nd half of the award ticket for free?

gubevo

Thanks so much for posting. I appreciate tremendously when you post these things as I will probably never be able to attend a seminar of yours(unless you hopefully change your mind 🙂 ).

DL

On a different note Dan; I have status with alaska expiring end of the year. Any idea which airline I can match it to for 2018?

Ejb

Now make a post on finding availability in J to Europe 🙂

PM

Step 1: Find a hidden city ticket for J with ITA
Step 2: Book this with Amex travel and 35% points back 🙂
Step 3: Wake up.

nate

Am I missing something here? how do I configure the flights if starting out in sfo? I found for example one way from KOA to SFO in march and SFO to PARIS in September for 20k miles. but how do I configure the return flights? I live in San Francisco

Ns

How much will it come out , nyc to HKG and then HKG to TLV in bussines class ?

Garrett Johnson

Seems the system refuses to route a multi city itinerary through CLT

Flight Q

Any way to take advantage of this with just the cities of LAX, NYC, and Hawaii?

sam

hi dan, if i book a aa flight via alaska airlines will i get the first luggage free if im a citi aadvantage card holder?

dfromny

Thanks a bunch @dan for this awesome post! I had two questions and I’d really appreciate if you would answer them. 1. Whats the limit on free stops? Is it only 1 free stop per trip? (I’m trying to book NYC-LAX-LAS which is working but when I end with -ATL it turns into 2 tickets). And
2. How close to the departure airport does my final leg need to be for it to change from free stopovers to round trip (ie: NYC-LAX-LAS is 1 ticket but changing LAS to BOS becomes 2 tickets).
I hope that’s clear 🙂 Thanks so much!!

brodes18

LAX – JFK in April – Business class (A321T lie flat)
JFK – LAX – HKG in August – Business Class (A321T & 77W lie flat)
50K Alaska + $23

Thanks Dan!

Myi

Would it work for me to drop the Hawaii flight and take the flight to London for 20,000 points?
Comes out cheaper just adding on the Hawaii flight even if I don’t take it.
Meaning would they cancel my whole itinerary if I missed my first leg of my flight even though it’s months apart?
I’m assuming it’s a Gamble?

Myi

Wow Dan really a great post.
Written very clear ,can’t get much clearer and great examples.
Thanks for these gold tidbits.
And love to read such tricks.
Keep up the great blogging…

wpDiscuz