The principal reason for having my Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cards just went out the window. The mileage requirements for flying first class on Emirates just about doubled overnight. Here is the new Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan award chart for Emirates between North America and Asia.
|Class of Service||Region||One-Way|
|Economy||Between North America and Asia||52,500||105,000|
|Business||Between North America and Asia||105,000||210,000|
|First||Between North America and Asia||180,000||360,000|
Ouch!! Previously the First Class Emirates one way award was only 90,000 miles. The one way first class ticket from North America to Asia is still pretty good on Cathay Pacific (70,000 miles one way); however, it doesn’t look like I’ll be hanging out with Jennifer Anniston at the Emirates in-air shower spa or in-air lounge anytime soon.
Here is a run down on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. Although Mileage Plan is still a pretty strong program I will most likely not renew my cards because Emirates was my reason for collecting mileage in this program
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card credit card offer on its face is no big deal. Let’s see:
- 25,000 bonus miles
- A $99 Coach companion fare ticket ($121 with taxes and fees) issued after each cardholder anniversary
- 3 miles for every qualifying Alaska Airlines purchase
- No mileage cap
- No minimum spend
- $75 annual fee
- Some generic features (1 mile per $ of spend, 5 miles per $ spend at certain restaurants, etc.)
You can easily match these features or do better (30k to 50k miles offers abound on the internet) with the United Airlines Mileage Plus Explorer Card or the American Airlines AAdvantage card. However, most of those offers come with a $3,000 to $5,000 minimum spend (which usually must be spent within 90 days of card issuance). The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card has no minimum spend and earns you miles in the far superior Mileage Plan program. In addition, it’s issued by Bank of America so you can have multiple credit cards issued in one day (assuming you have good credit).
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
The key here is the excellent Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Mileage Plan is one of the strongest mileage programs in the business. In addition to being able to redeem miles on Alaska Airlines in a favorable manner, you can also book Partner Awards online on American Airlines, Aero Mexico, Air France, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Pen Air, Qantas and Ravn Alaska. Additionally, you can book Cathay Pacific and LAN by calling the Alaska Airlines reservations line (800-252-7522). A few of these partner programs are standouts.
Have you ever been in first class on an Emirates A380? Check out Ben Schlappig’s excellent review of the Emirates A380 first class cabin on onemileatatime.com. Let’s just say—it’s insanely nice. An on board A380 Shower Spa for two with your own shower caddy—check. Dom Perignon, Jonnie Walker Blue and other top notch booze—check. Amazing food and insane seating—check.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the few frequent flyer programs that used to put you in the Emirates first class cabin for a (somewhat) reasonable number of miles and NO fuel surcharges (try that when redeeming rewards ticket on British Airways with their exorbitant fuel surcharges). In addition, Mileage Plan is the only program I know of that has one-way first class tickets on Emirates. It’s only 90,000 points (now 180,000 miles) one way between North America and India or the Middle East (200,000 miles one way to Africa). You want more—you got it. How about a free stopover in Dubai? Say you want to fly from JFK to Cape Town on Emirates in first class. Mileage Plan will let you stop over for a few days in Dubai (check out the Burj Al Arab, etc.) and then fly on to Cape Town. Yeah—you can do that whole thing in FIRST CLASS for 100,000 miles (now 200,000) and NO fuel surcharges. Please keep in mind that you can’t use Mileage Plan to fly Emirates from North America to Australia.
I am going to put aside my personal disdain for Cathay Pacific (one absolutely disastrous experience from Chicago to Hong Kong) for this blog post. According to Skytrax, Cathay Pacific is one of the only seven 5 star rated airlines in the world. More importantly, you can fly first class one way from North America to Africa, India or the Middle East on Cathay Pacific with 70,000 Mileage Plan miles.
Check out Ben Schlappig’s review of the first class cabin on Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER on onemileatatime.com Remember, the main hub for Cathay Pacific is Honk Kong. So if you route yourself from Chicago to Johannesburg (through Hong Kong) you will get a free stop over in Hong Kong. THAT IS A FREAKIN STEAL FOR 70,000 MILES ONE WAY. Did I mention there are NO fuel surcharges? Booyah!
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan also offers excellent redemption rights on LAN (90,000 miles RT for Premium Business class between North America and South America), Fiji Airways (110,000 miles RT for business class between North American and the South Pacific/Australia/New Zealand) and Korean Air (125,000 miles RT for business class between North America and Australia/New Zealand/Fiji). Obviously, all programs are subject to seat restrictions and certain blackout dates.
All in all, the miles you earn in the Mileage Plan program will take you much further (in nicer cabins) than most other mileage programs. So grab as many Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cards as you can and start traveling in style ASAP.
Some Pointers on Multiple Card Issuance
Your first Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card should be issued automatically after completing the online application. For the second (or perhaps third or fourth) card you have to call the card’s 800 number, speak with the representative and explain why you want multiple cards (one for business..one for personal, etc.). Just FYI—the representative will suggest that you have additional cards issued on the same account. You definitely do not want to accept that offer. I highly recommend you make all card requests in a single day in order to minimize the impact on your credit score. I have heard you can get as many as four cards issued at a time. I was well on my way to have all four issued in a single day when I had to attend to other matter before the third and fourth cards had been issued. Big Mistake. When I called back later that night I was unable to get the two additional cards issued. One further note— please make sure that each card issued has at least a $5,000 credit line. Cards issued with a sub $5,000 credit line will not receive the 25,000 point bonus.