Yesterday I mentioned an incredible deal, you can fly Alaska Airlines first class anywhere that carrier flies for about $329 plus taxes.
This is not an error or a glitch.
It’s a function of:
- Icelandair is a partner of Alaska Airlines. Their award chart for using miles on Alaska is extremely favorable: 20,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 30,000 miles roundtrip in first class. I do not know why it is so favorable, considering redeeming for flights on Icelandair can be extremely costly.
- The Icelandic Krona isn’t worth much these days. So you can buy Icelandair Saga Club miles quite inexpensively. US$328 buys you 25,000 miles.
- There’s a 20% bonus on purchased miles running through September 28th. That means those 25,000 purchased miles actually get you 30,000 miles, enough for a roundtrip ticket in first class on Alaska Airlines.
- It’s one price for the entire Alaska route network, such as Chicago to Seattle to Hawaii and back for that same 30,000 miles.
Online Travel Review, which I cited yesterday as having first publicized the opportunity, posted a followup today.
He points out you can get the cost down even further using the ‘transfer miles’ option:
[T]hey only charge 3,000 ISK ($25) to transfer miles to someone.
So, if you buy 50,000 miles it will cost you $525. If you then go and transfer those miles to someone, they will have 60,000 miles (because of the 20% bonus). Those 60,000 miles, then, will cost you a total of $550. That means you are either getting 2 first class flights on Alaska for $275 each roundtrip, or 3 coach flights for $183 each roundtrip.
Of course when you buy or transfer these points, or do anything in a foreign currency, be sure to use a credit card that adds no foreign currency transaction fee (or else you are hit with an extra 3% in fees).
This deal is round trip not one-way as some folks seemed to think, Icelandair does not have a one-way redeption option on partner airlines.
Some people were told there is a 10 day waiting period for new accounts to be able to redeem miles. That’s apparently been waived.
Others have had a hard time opening new accounts, the website is having some troubles so just keep at it.
Of course the biggest ‘risk’ if you can call it that is that the flights you want on Alaska Airlines will not be available. But it does seem that Icelandair has the same access to reward seats on Alaska as Alaska’s own Mileage Plan members.
- You can search the Alaska Airlines website for saver award seats
- Or search at FlightStats.com, you are looking for W inventory for coach or A inventory for first class.
- Expertflyer.com also shows Alaska Airlines award space and has a 5-day free trial
In my experience flights from Boston, Newark, and Washington DC to Seattle are tough to get in first class. Chicago and St. Louis are easier. So are the Texas flights, Denver, and anything to the West. Getting to Hawaii isn’t too tough though you want to make sure seats are available if that’s your goal, and remember that Alaska serves Kona, Lihue, Maui, and Honolulu. And of course Mexico as well. Here’s the Alaska Airlines route map.
Change fees are roughly US$80. There are no cancellation options to refund your points, however.
Mommy Points shares her story of booking first class award tickets to Hawaii with this deal.
There’s always the chance that a given flight option doesn’t work out, that an overnight connection forces the award to price double, or that Icelandair changes the rules (e.g. that they stop allowing redemptions to cities where they do not codeshare). All speculative.
So what I would do is Icelandair Saga Club, find the award seats on Alaska Airlines that you want, ring up Iceland Air at 1-800-223-5500, and have them verify availability and cost of the award. Then buy the points you want, and redeem for the tickets.
I wouldn’t bank Icelandair miles for the future. This isn’t a glitch or mistake, but it’s too good of a value to last. At some point the opportunity will go away. Icelandair does permit purchasing up to 100,000 miles per account each year. I would only buy right in advance of redemption, personally…