In this post: Hide
The current Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles sale and the recently announced partnership between Alaska and Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines present a tantalizing opportunity to save big on a seat in the world’s best new business class cabin–but there are a few important caveats.
What’s so great about Starlux Airlines?
Starlux Airlines is a Taiwanese airline founded in 2018 and made news last month when it launched its first long-haul route between Taipei and Los Angeles. The airline has so far received rave reviews from economy, business, and first class passengers who note excellent service and phenomenal food, as well as its absolutely stunning A350-900 cabin. From what I’ve seen of the cabin, I agree wholeheartedly agree and think it’s probably the handsomest business class cabin I’ve seen to date.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles sale
Between now and May 21 at 11:59 PM PST, you can receive up to a 60% bonus on Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles purchases. The exact pricing is as follows:
- Buy 3,000-19,000 miles and get a 40% bonus
- Buy 20,000-39,000 miles and get a 50% bonus
- Buy 40,000-100,000 miles and get a 60% bonus
Alaska periodically has promotional sales on their miles, but 60% is the best offer we’ve seen in the seven years that Award Wallet has kept track of sales.
Alaska Airlines and Starlux’s new partnership
So why am I discussing Alaska miles on a post about Starlux Airlines? Because Starlux and Alaska recently entered a partnership that allows Alaska Mileage Plan members to earn Alaska miles on their Starlux flights and, most importantly, to redeem Alaska for Starlux tickets.
Award tickets aren’t yet bookable, but we do know what seats between the US and Taiwan will cost, and rates look pretty sweet:
- Economy: 20,000 miles
- Premium economy: 40,000 miles
- Business class: 60,000 miles
How much could you save?
Over the next several months, cash rates for roundtrip business class tickets between Los Angeles and Taipei are going for a fairly pricey $8,842.
That same round trip ticket will be redeemable for 120,000 miles, or 60,000 miles each way. If you were to take advantage of Alaska’s current sale, you could buy those 120,000 miles for $2,217.19.
I’ll speak about the practical limitations associated with this deal in a moment, but the point here is that in scenario laid out above you’d be paying exactly one-quarter the price of a cash ticket and saving 75% of the sticker price. If you were to buy a one-way ticket, you’d realize nearly the same savings.
Three big caveats
Though the potential savings are big, there are three important caveats to keep in mind here:
- You can’t yet redeem Alaska miles for Starlux flights. Alaska has told us that “redemptions become available this summer,” but we don’t know the exact dates.
- Alaska is calling the redemption rates we’ve received “limited-time,” suggesting they’ll eventually increase–and given Alaska’s recent no-notice JAL devaluation, we may not get an advanced warning when that happens.
- We don’t yet know how many award seats will be released. Depending on the number, actually booking a seat may range from easy to fiendishly difficult.
Is it worth buying Alaska miles speculatively?
Given the caveats and uncertainty around booking Starlux award tickets, is it worth buying Alaska miles during the current sale? I think so, for a couple of reasons:
- Even if you end up unable to redeem miles for Starlux tickets, Alaska has an awesome frequent flyer program with plenty of great redemptions. At the current sale price of 1.85 cents a piece, there are plenty of redemption opportunities that are as good or better than the Starlux one, such as Cathay Pacific business class from the US to Asia.
- More Starlux routes between Taiwan and the US are planned, so there should soon be more seats available for award redemption in the near future. According to Starlux, flights to San Francisco are planned for the end of this year, while flights to Seattle and New York are planned for 2024 and 2025, respectively.
Even though you can’t execute this deal quite yet, I think it makes sense to take advantage of the current Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles sale. In the best-case scenario, you snag business class seats this summer on Starlux’s gorgeous new A350-900 for a fraction of the retail price. In the worst-case scenario, you’ve bought Alaska miles on the cheap that you to spend on other high-value redemptions. Either option sounds pretty good to me.