A Trick To Save 10,000 – 15,000 Miles Each Way When Booking Business Class Awards

Thrifty Traveler flags an interesting pricing anomaly from Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan that you can benefit from.

Alaska Airlines has introduced a new distance-based award chart and there are great opportunities to maximize your redemptions along with some awards that have gotten more expensive.

The quirk is that when you book a business class award, and add a connection in economy, sometimes the price of the award drops.

  • Book a one-way trip to Europe, normally (for most distance-based awards) 55,000 miles
  • Add a connecting flight in coach on either end, and it often drops to 45,000 miles
  • That’s true even if you do not take the last flight on the itinerary (just don’t check bags)

Even better you don’t need to do this as a throwaway ticket without checking bags. Alaska Airlines offers one-way awards with a free stopover. So book your business class ticket to Europe and add a one-way coach flight to another destination for later. You should do this anyway any time you’re booking an award since it’s a free extra trip. Except here it’s negative-priced.

For the longest transatlantic trips Thrifty Traveler notes that the savings become even bigger – a 70,000 mile one-way business class award with a coach segment added can drop to 55,000 miles.

Alaska says it’s not supposed to work this way. Their rules say that you should still pay the higher price for the whole trip.

Mixed-cabin itineraries are booked at the award level listed for the highest class of service of any included segment. For example, where one segment is in Main Cabin and another segment is in Business Class, the number of miles required will correspond to a Business Class itinerary, regardless of the relative duration of each segment

British Airways Business Class

This doesn’t always work, and it’s not clear how long it will work. It may also work to other regions as well – try it on Asia trips to see whether you save by adding an additional segment as well.

You can do something similar with Avianca’s LifeMiles where adding a segment in coach pro-rates the fare and drops your total price even if it’s a segment you don’t plan to fly. That’s been intentional and ongoing for years.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I been doing this for a long time. Now that it has been spewed out to the world it won’t last.
    I’ve learned a lot of loop holes over the years, but I never share because they will soon disappear.

  2. yes, like the trick that when you booked british airways business class awards with AA miles, you would earn qualifying miles and award miles as if it was a paid tickets.
    It worked for years and I’m glad it was never shared. Doesn’t work anymore though

  3. @gus – that was in fact shared. it was great to earn miles on BA redemptions. And there are other things like that today still.

  4. Kind of an extension to hidden city ticketing which you also talked about some time ago.
    https://viewfromthewing.com/how-to-use-hidden-city-and-throwaway-ticketing-to-save-money-on-airfare/ Beware that I’ve seen other points bloggers share about airlines penalizing passengers for hidden city ticketing where if it’s deemed to be a pattern they’ve even lost their points and status.

    That said, we’ve also seen some interesting savings by going to a ‘smaller town’ instead of a big hub, and we’ve simply started our tour in the smaller town where often rental cars and hotels are cheaper too. Example, instead of flying to Frankfurt, we found that Flying to Frankfurt and taking the train to Cologne was actually cheaper. Great! We were going to drive to Cologne anyways 🙂
    I think at the time Lufthansa was doing a promotion trying to get people to adopt the train connections instead of short flights (it’s actually quite easy to connect between the two there). More on our experience about that here: https://freedomtourtravel.com/check-your-connections-when-booking-flights-you-may-be-connecting-with-a-train-or-a-bus/

    BTW thanks for all you post, you always find the wackiest stories out there for travel. love it!

  5. Alaska Airlines IT has been known for long term bugs in some award booking situations that persisted for years. Bugs which made it difficult to book certain types of awards. The only time they jump on fixing a bug is if it affects their profits. I suspect this “feature” will be fixed soon.

  6. Hilarious that people are dinging you for “spewing this to the world”. This has been posted online multiple times, with tens of thousands of eyeballs on it. It’s also pretty niche (in the Alaska case.

  7. American Airlines does this a lot. Recently got where JFK to Delhi, India on American airlines nonstop flight was available for 69k miles in business class but by originating in Philadelphia as PHL to Laguardia leg and then connecting by the same JFK -> DEL flight it was 55k miles in J!

    Last year PHL to Cancun was charging 18k miles in economy for a date I wanted but by originating in Lancaster or Allentown, PA to reach PHL first which was operated by some “AA” shuttle bus it was instead 12k miles! Worked for me as saved on parking costs with it being cheaper in the other places

  8. BA doesn’t count because of the YQ.

    Alaska’s “little seats of death” just means the long segment is in coach (usually) so I don’t see this as a trick for most award routes but it can work on rare occasions.

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