Earlier this week, I discussed the costs of [% 3190773 | | purchasing frequent flyer miles %] generally, and in particular whether the financial picture changed when airlines discounted the price of miles, as several are currently doing. It turned out to be a case of a bad deal made only marginally better.
In contrast to those limited-time discounts, Alaska Airlines has introduced a new feature to its Mileage Plan program that amounts to a permanent discount on the price of miles, provided they’re bought in conjunction with the purchase of an Alaska ticket on alaskaair.com.
With Alaska’s so-called Fly & Buy Miles feature, Mileage Plan members who book paid tickets are given the opportunity to buy miles at the following rates: $25 for 1,000; $62 for 2,500 miles; or $109 for 5,000 miles.
Normally, the price is $27.50 for every 1,000 miles purchased. So the Fly & Buy prices represent a 9 percent discount when purchasing 1,000 miles, and a 21 percent discount when buying 5,000 miles.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because [% 2645798 | | United %] introduced a similar feature, Award Accelerator, last August.
In both cases, the unstated proposition seems to be that consumers deserve a better deal on miles when they also buy tickets. The deal the airlines have chosen to offer, however, just isn’t that much better.