Note: This is an old newsletter email, but the trick is still cool, and now the only email signup is basically just an email version of the posts. I’ll be posting some of that original newsletter content publicly now. Enjoy…
I accidentally discovered a loop-hole with Alaska miles. In short, I flew a flight and then canceled it and got my miles back. Let me explain…
Earlier, I did some writing about Alaska stopovers. I wrote about some tricks that I thought ended up being cool.
Add tickets to Hawaii before/after a ticket to Sydney, Europe, Japan, Latin America, and the Caribbean. AND! The best part is that some of these tricks could lower the price of your ticket.
You could fly Hawaii to US in the winter, and then fly to Europe in summer on AA and it would cost 20,000 miles. That’s cheaper than just a ticket between Hawaii and the US, and it gets you the off-peak price to Europe regardless of when you fly that leg. In other words, it’s cheaper to fly two tickets (Hawaii to your US home, and then later to Europe), than it is to fly 1 ticket (just to Hawaii or Europe).
Not Everyone Needs A Stopover
But in this case, I was using Alaska miles to go from Roatan, Honduras to Dallas, TX. It was only 15,000 Alaska miles… but it would be the same price if I added an additional ticket to Hawaii.
I wasn’t actually planning on a trip to Hawaii but I booked it far out and figured I could decide later. “Best case scenario is a free ticket to Hawaii. Worst case scenario I cancel and get my $10 of extra airport taxes back,” I thought.
But Then I Cancelled…
As the date came closer it ended up being a really busy week, and so I decided to cancel my ticket to Maui.
But when I followed through the process to cancel online, it gave me a note that I would get miles back for my unused ticket (DFW-OGG)… 15,000 miles each. I’d get back 30,000 miles for not flying the DFW-OGG portion of my RTB-DFW-OGG ticket.
Yet, we’d already flown the RTB-DFW portion of the ticket, which would have cost 15,000 miles each!
What a deal?! Fly the first part of my ticket, cancel and get back all my miles… in the form of a certificate.
There’s a Catch (for some)
The catch is that the miles don’t come back into your account- they come in the form of a certificate.
And for non-elites, there is a $150 fee for using this certificate (the cancelation fee).
We have not used these 15,000 miles yet, so I don’t know if it can be used with your existing points balance. But Carrie did call and try to book another ticket and the agents said she could use the miles to book a ticket as long as it was leaving from the same airport (in this case DFW). I’m not sure why that is, given that the email just indicates that we have miles. But this might be a YMMV.
Also, I believe the tickets have to be used for the same people.
The BIG “What if?”
Obviously, I can book another flight now with the cert… But I wonder how long would this go?
What if I tried using my miles now to book another ticket from the Caribbean to US to Hawaii? Say next time I do Cabo to Dallas, then Dallas to Hawaii. An agent would have to do it using my certificate, and unfortunately, the last agent told me we’d have to start in Dallas. But ignoring that for this “what if”…
What if I then used the same miles to fly Cabo to Dallas, and then canceled the rest of the ticket to Hawaii? What if I got back the 15,000 miles again?! Then I’d have an endless source of free 15,000 mile tickets…
And I wonder… what if you tried it for a ticket to Japan to Europe- would you get back 25,000 miles or 30,000 miles?
Would be interesting to hear if someone has played around with this!
Always book a stopover in your home city and tack on a ticket to another region whenever possible. I’m not sure if this could work for domestic flights.
But might as well try. It’s likely that you’ll either fly the free ticket or get all your miles back.
Hope this was interesting.