THIS DEAL IS NOW DEAD. SEE HERE FOR FINAL DETAILS.
OTR reader Steve has passed along what should be an improvement to the Icelandair/Alaska deal:
Through September 28th, Icelandair is giving a 20% bonus when you transfer miles to someone else. Incredibly, they only charge 3,000 ISK ($25) to transfer miles to someone.
So, if you buy 50,000 miles it will cost you $525. If you then go and transfer those miles to someone, they will have 60,000 miles (because of the 20% bonus). Those 60,000 miles, then, will cost you a total of $550. That means you are either getting 2 first class flights on Alaska for $275 each roundtrip, or 3 coach flights for $183 each roundtrip. Just a thought.
An FAQ on the whole Icelandair/Alaska thing:
Q: Is it 20,000/30,000 (coach/first class) one-way or round trip?
A: Round trip. I promise. Round trip. They only allow roundtrip redemptions on their own flights, they are not going to allow one-ways on partner flights.
Q: This sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
A: Perhaps. But the main reason this works is because the devaluation of the Icelandic Krona has cut the value of their currency relative to the dollar in half. And it’s not THAT crazy — Avios only charges 25,000 points for a coach roundtrip from the West Coast to Hawaii.
Q: What’s up with the 10 day waiting period people are mentioning?
I don’t know. Some people who have called have been told they need to wait 10 days before booking because they are a new account holder. That sounds like nonsense, and because I’m guessing they have 2 people working in their call center, calling them back likely won’t help.
The fine team at Icelandair has now waived the 10 day waiting period to help everyone out.
A piece of advice I’ve never shared here (but now that I think of it, I should have) is to sign up for all of the frequent flyer programs out there. They’re free. Just get yourself a number. I have FF accounts with all sorts of random airlines precisely for this reason – who knows why you might need it down the road? It’s free, and my kids get a kick out of the mail some of these airlines send (Kingfisher luggage tags)?
Q: Why can’t I find availability?
A: Availability is pretty good to Hawaii from San Jose and Portland, especially. Check on Alaska Airlines’ website before calling (and waiting on hold with) Icelandair. When I called yesterday it appeared that availability matched what was available on Alaska Airlines’ site, but others are hearing differently. I fear you may be traveling down a rabbit hole if you ask Icelandair to search for availability. UPDATE: Fares book into W class for coach and A class for First. Expertflyer has a free 5-day trial that can help you with this.
Also I’m not hearing much success from the East Coast because availability is quite poor.
Q: Are stopovers permitted?
A: Yes they are. You’re allowed 1. That does not mean there will be availability, but you can stopover. A stopover is any connection longer than 4 hours. This is the reason you can’t book connections to Hawaii from the East Coast – you’ll end up with 4-hour+ connections in both directions.
Q: What is the change fee?
A: It’s 10,000 ISK or roughly $80
Q: Why are people being told that they need to book 2 separate awards when they have a connecting flight?
A: I’m not 100% sure. However, as this post from Million Mile Secrets notes American Airlines will make you book two separate awards for any flight that involves a connection longer than 4 hours. Given that most East Coast to Hawaii flights have 8 hour (or overnight) connections, I think that is what is causing this problem (inasmuch as having to pay $600 for a first class ticket to Hawaii constitutes a “problem”.)
A couple of other random points:
- Even after the 20 percent bonus goes away September 28 this is still a great way to get to Hawaii cheap in first class going forward.
- Obviously do not purchase points until you know that there is availability with Icelandair.
- The people I’ve spoken with in their call center were wonderful, but I’m guessing they’re not used to this kind of call volume (at least not since the $61 fare to Reykjavik from years back). Please be nice to them.
- Please post any success stories, though it sounds like we may not have any for a while because of this odd 10 day thing.
- This deal has brought lots of new people to Online Travel Review. Welcome! If you care: I’ve been writing this thing for almost 9 years. I don’t think business class is as great as most other bloggers seem to think it is (see here). I’m not a trip report guy, so if you’d like 32 photos of someone’s soda on their flight, you’ll have to visit elsewhere. I think it’s amazing that by opening a credit card you can go nearly anywhere in the world you want for free. That’s insanely awesome. I have a chart-making program that I like so I’ve created some charts I think are useful that you can find in the right hand column (ie, differences between Business Credit Cards; how to get to Hawaii using miles; a chart of how many miles it takes to go anywhere on all US airlines). And this little piece about flying with my then-3-year-olds is probably my favorite thing I’ve written here. Well, that one and this one about fathers.
In any case, welcome. Hope you stick around for a while. You can email me anytime at jared (at) onlinetravelreview.com. Oh, and if you want any help figuring out the whole credit card thing, I’ve worked with lots of people who have used my free credit card planning service. It’s free, and we’ll get you enough miles for that trip you’ve dreamed about.
UPDATE: Someone who said they were from Icelandair (I have no reason not to believe them, especially since the IP address they posted from was in Iceland) posted this mini-FAQ in the comments of the main post. I thought I’d post here, but with the caveat that when I called them yesterday they had availability from Portland (PDX) to Honolulu.
Thank you for your interest in our Program but due to heavy load on our Call Center we just wanted to clear a few things:
1) Availability on Alaska Airlines is limited and seats for Hawaii for the coming months
are not available is limited in our systems (agent checked just over a minute ago).
2) Availability is controlled only by Alaska Airlines and not by Icelandair.
3) Registration in the Saga Club is under Construction and can therefore take a longer time again also due to heavy load on our Call Center.
4) Miles expire in the end of the fourth year from they were earned.
We hope that answers some of your questions,
With best regards,
The Icelandair Saga Club