Icelandair Redemptions on Alaska Airlines are Back: Buying Miles for First Class Award Travel to Hawaii

Just last week I mentioned I use changedetection.com to track when websites update — like the Icelandair Saga Club site, waiting for the return of Alaska Airlines redemptions with those miles.

Back in August lots of folks were hitting Icelandair pretty hard with their partner redemptions on Alaska Airlines.

Over the summer you could straight up buy miles and redeem them on Alaska for first class to Hawaii for about $350.

This morning I got the alert. Icelandair brings back Alaska Airlines redemptions, effective January 20. Although they’ve raised the price of Alaska Airlines awards.

Alaska Airlines awards used to simply be 20,000 miles in coach and 30,000 in first class.

Here’s the thing. For some it may still make sense to buy Icelandair miles and redeem them for premium cabin travel on Alaska to Mexico or Hawaii.

Each 1000 miles costs 1500 Iceland Krona. (The cost of miles hasn’t gone up.) At current exchange rates that’s about 1.23 cents per mile. There’s a 2000 Krona per transaction fee as well or about $16.46. You can buy up to 100,000 miles per account per year, up to 50,000 per transaction. These are processed by Points.com so will not be treated as air for credit card spending bonuses.

It will take about $1000 in mileage purchases for a first class Hawaii award as a result. You may be able to reduce this cost by sharing miles, or when they again run a bonus on purchased miles as they were doing over the summer.

And anyone with leftover Icelandair miles has an opportunity to use them again in a reasonable way.

Presumably their routing rules haven’t changed. You’re permitted one stopover on an award, even a purely domestic U.S. award. But any connection over 4 hours is a stopover. You cannot have a connection in each direction greater than 4 hours as that would be two stopovers.

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. […] Then, a bit over a week ago, Gary, from the blog View from the Wing, mentioned he was waiting for the new Alaska redemption chart to come out and had an alert set up for it.  I had been watching the Icelandair website periodically to see if a new redemption chart was posted.  Well, I was super excited to see Gary post on Thursday about posting a new redemption chart on Alaska Airlines. […]

Comments

  1. Any opportunities to transfer points/miles in to top off an account? I stupidly bought 60k of miles last summer without fully checking availability and got stuck with them. Now I’m very happy the chance to use them is back but need another 20k to get to Hawaii.

  2. Since Alaska first is not much of an upgrade over economy I think the potential sweet spot would be buying an economy ticket during a bonus promotion. Thanks for keeping up on this.

  3. can you redeem for Alaska partners or just Alaska metal only ? if possible CX metal looks very good with those numbers

  4. Agree with Scott – even without a promotion, an economy coach ticket anywhere in the US with a free stopover is about $320.

    If you can find transcon availability (is it realistic?) 2 cities for $320 might be the best value in domestic coach (BA shorthaul notwithstanding)

  5. Good catch! I checked the Icelandair website yesterday and they still were not offering the Alaska Air tickets.

    The Krona was at a post-meltdown high in August 2012 when they offed a 20 percent buy bonus. It has dropped in value to the point that the miles are about as good a deal at regular price.

    A couple of notes. You can NOT trade Icelandair miles for HHonors points even though Hilton says you can. I think back in August the rate was one-for-two, but no more. You CAN use Icelandair miles to book Hilton rooms through the Icelandair website, but it’s a bad deal, particularly for elite HHonors members who get a discount on longer stays. Essentially you are looking at 40,000 miles for a top hotel room, which is way too much.

    Don’t know if it’s still possible, but after the Alaska Air window closed I traded my 120,000 Icelandair miles for 71,000 USAir miles on points.com. It wasn’t a great “investment” on my part but I did consider it a “save.” And at these rates this may be the cheapest way to buy USAir miles. USAir is the only program to have any kind of decent exchange rate on this.

  6. Just to clarify, though, that $320 “anywhere in the US” is only possible if you’re starting from an airport served by Alaska, right?

  7. @Jeffrey – yes, it must be served by Alaska. IIRC, for transcons, the best availability was ex- PHL and BOS

  8. @jeffrey

    Yup. They do have flights out of most major cities (at least to Seatac), but don’t think transcon availability is good.

  9. Hi
    i have 2 business class tickets booked from OAK to OGG (Maui) for March. I live in Newark (NJ).

    Please tell me how I can get out of this? Can I call Saga club and ask them to change the flights from EWR/LGA to Alaska?

    I’m stuck here and don’t want to lose the money I paid last year.

  10. I was fortuante and quick enough to get in on the deal last summer, and our family of four is booked in F from SAT>>SEA[Stop]>>ANC and back this coming July. Even with the new chart, Y for ~$350 WITH a stopover in SEA is a great value if flying to Alaska or western Canada. TX residents have good availablity as AS flies to DFW/IAH/AUS/SAT.

  11. As much as it pains me to say it, I was sort of hoping that we would get a distance based award chart here. There is just so much variability in AS destinations even the updated chart hardly makes sense to me.

  12. I assume that you need to find low level award availability on Alaska flights. Alaska is pretty stingy with low level award availability on Hawaii routes from SEA as well as an transcons. Some of the Hawaii flights from SAN, OAK, SJC and SMF may have better availability, but few connections from the East Coast. Double connections might help but there’s that pesky 4-hour rule…

  13. The changes on Jan 20th dont seem to be showing up anymore on the Icelandair website. Anyone know if its still going to happen?

  14. As I posted early on, I don’t see any change in the website and it’s now Jan. 21 in Iceland and soon to be Jan. 21 in the U.S., so past time for the changes to have gone into effect. Wondering if maybe this isn’t going to happen.

  15. Thanks for the update! Unfortunately I bought 60k points and didn’t spend them. I live in San Francisco – what do you think is the best use of these miles? I’d like to go to Hawaii or Mexico, but is it worth it? (I fly to San Diego or Los Angeles every 4 months, don’t really fly elsewhere in the country.)

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