Alaska Mileage Plan has announced a very unique promotion designed to encourage its members to travel with Fiji Airways, whether it’s on points or cash: members can choose to either book award tickets for up to 50% off the usual price, or be rewarded with double miles when they book paid tickets on Fiji Airways and credit them to Alaska.
The award sale is likely to be the more interesting angle here, especially since it creates some spectacular opportunities to travel down under to Australia or New Zealand, with a stopover in Fiji along the way.
Up to 50% Off Fiji Airways Awards
Until February 29, 2020, when you redeem Alaska miles for travel on Fiji Airways, you’ll pay up to 50% fewer miles than the standard rate. The 50% savings are unlocked when redeeming economy class awards from North America to Oceania; meanwhile, business class awards will incur savings of around 27% off.
Here’s the side-by-side comparison of the standard and discounted award rates, in full:
As you can see, an economy class one-way journey between North America and Oceania, with a stopover in Fiji, only costs 20,000 Alaska miles under this promotion, and that’s a spectacular deal given the long distances you’re travelling.
If you’re comfortable with a long journey in economy class and are simply pursuing the best deal, then it doesn’t get much better than this!
Putting it into perspective, a single signup bonus on the MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard (regardless of whether you get the World Elite or Platinum Plus version) will get you a one-way flight down to Australia or New Zealand, and it’s not often we can say that about a credit card that’ll cost you as little as $25 out-of-pocket in the first year.
What Trips Can You Book?
To search for flights, you’ll want to click on “All search options” on the search engine that you see on the Alaska homepage. That’ll bring you to the more advanced search engine, where you can use the multi-city option to plan your trip involving a stopover in Fiji.
For Canadians, this promotion will be most ideally suited to those living in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, or Kelowna, because you can catch an Alaska Airlines-operated flight from these cities to Seattle and then connect to either Los Angeles or San Francisco for your onward flight to the South Pacific. Alaska doesn’t let you combine two partners on the same ticket, but you can add as many Alaska-operated flights to a single partner airline (in this case Fiji Airways) as you wish.
(If you live elsewhere in Canada, you’d need to book a separate positioning flight to take advantage of this promotion, either to one of the above-mentioned cities or to a gateway airport like Los Angeles or San Francisco to begin your Fiji Airways itinerary directly.)
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, you can redeem Alaska miles for Fiji Airways awards to anywhere they fly in Australia, New Zealand, or the South Pacific.
So you could plan a trip, for example, from Edmonton to Auckland via Nadi…
…or from Calgary to Christchurch…
…or even from Victoria to Vanuatu.
In addition to Nadi, you’re also allowed to have a stopover in Suva, the capital and largest city of the nation.
Nadi and Suva are on opposite sides of Fiji’s main island, and it’s about an eight-hour drive to get between them. Nadi is located much closer to the major resorts, making it the better choice if you’re looking for a quick beachside getaway; meanwhile, Suva might be a more interesting option to you if you’re interested in seeing the “real” Fiji as the locals know it.
Even better, you could plan your return trip to originate from an entirely separate point within Oceania, and then complete the trip using other award redemptions to make for a truly epic Southern Hemisphere adventure.
For example, an outbound of Vancouver–Nadi–Sydney could be combined with a return journey of Auckland–Suva–Vancouver for only 40,000 Alaska miles, with an Avios redemption on Qantas to fill in the gap.
Or you could fly into Brisbane after a Nadi stopover, redeem Etihad miles for a Virgin Australia flight to the Solomon Islands, and then book another Fiji Airways ticket back from Honiara.
There are quite a few very satisfying possibilities, and I’d say this represents one of the best mileage deals for getting to Australia or New Zealand if one is willing to travel in economy class, as well as for exploring the islands South Pacific, where the regular cost of flights (even in economy) can often be prohibitively expensive.
What About Business Class Awards?
We’ve been speaking in terms of economy class so far. The regular cost for a one-way business class award from North America to Oceania on Fiji Airways is 55,000 Alaska miles, which is discounted to 40,000 Alaska miles under this promotion.
The problem, however, is that Fiji Airways business class availability is rather hard to come by on the flights from Los Angeles or San Francisco down to Fiji. And if you can’t get business class on the nine-hour flight down, it’s not really worth paying an extra 20,000 miles just to fly business on the three- or four-hour flights from Fiji to Australia or New Zealand, is it?
(Don’t be fooled by some of the screenshots showing business class space – the little seat-shaped icon is an indicator of a mixed-cabin award, with the longest segment still in economy and a terrible deal overall.)
If you do happen to stumble upon available seats in business class, then of course 40,000 Alaska miles for the one-way journey is an excellent deal as well. The A350 product out of LAX has newer and nicer lie-flat seats compared to the A330 out of San Francisco, but given the general dearth of business class awards, you’d do well to take the San Francisco flight if you can find it.
Earn Double Miles on Fiji Airways Flights
The second component to this Alaska–Fiji promotion is less interesting, but still worth highlighting: if you were planning to travel with Fiji Airways sometime between February 1 and June 30 of this year, and were thinking of buying a ticket outright, then you can also earn double Alaska miles when you credit those Fiji Airways flights to your Alaska account.
Simply click here to register for this promotion, and you’ll receive your double miles within 4–6 weeks of taking the flight.
How Is Fiji Airways? And What’s Fiji Like?
I recently flew with Fiji Airways from Honolulu to Auckland, with a brief layover in Christmas Island, Kiribati, followed by a long layover in Nadi, Fiji. Overall, I’d describe the experience as a surprisingly pleasant one.
I was actually seated in economy class during the eight-hour jaunt from Honolulu to Nadi via Christmas Island, and I had no complaints about the flight at all. The economy class seat pitch is about on par with what you’d find on North American airlines – a little on the tight side, but nowhere near the tightness of a low-cost carrier.
The fact that it was a daytime flight, with captivating views of the Pacific islands, probably helped as well, since I don’t think I’d be nearly as comfortable on the red-eyes from the West Coast. But hey, if you’re waking up in Nadi and heading to your resort straight afterwards, can you really complain?
While I was seated in economy, Jessy flew in business class on the same flight, and she too came away with very positive impressions, noting the friendliness of the flight attendants in particular. We then both flew business class on the way to Auckland, and I can definitely attest to the crew’s warmth and attentive service as well.
Another highlight of Fiji Airways is their flagship Premier Lounge at Nadi Airport, which is an outstanding airport lounge featuring delicious food, a traditional Fijian snack cart, barista-made espresso drinks, an open bar (including some signature cocktails), computer workstations with large iMacs, shower rooms, and even a spa.
It was far above the standard I was expecting for Fiji Airways – I wasn’t even planning to review this lounge, but felt compelled to do so after seeing how nice it was.
And the best part? It’s a member of the Priority Pass network, so even if you were to book Fiji Airways economy class under this deal, you’d still be able to access the lounge when departing Nadi with a Priority Pass membership.
As for Fiji itself, the brief 24-hour period I spent there definitely gave me enough to make me want to return. I spent most of the day at the Marriott Resort Fiji Momi Bay, which is probably one of the nicest Category 5 Marriott hotels out there, and an ideal choice for any free night certificates at the 35,000-point level that you might have floating around.
The resort has a man-made lagoon, a gorgeous infinity pool, and a dozen or so overwater villas that make for a great experience, even though they aren’t quite as luxurious as the ones you’d find in places like Bora Bora or the Maldives. The one thing about the resort that let me down was the service, which was pretty terrible all around, so make sure you go in with the right expectations.
If you schedule a longer stay in Fiji, the Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island seems like another excellent Category 5 property, although it does require a boat transfer from the mainland to access.
Finally, the people of Fiji itself are also a fascinating bunch. British colonists brought over a huge population from India about 150 years ago to work on the island’s sugarcane plantations, meaning that today’s Fijian population consists of approximately 50% native Fijians (of Melanesian and Polynesian descent) and 40% Indo-Fijians of Indian descent.
Indeed, you’ll find a series of Hindu temples and shrines dotting the roadside, and many modern-day Fijians are fluent in three entirely distinct languages: English, Fijian, and Hindi. It’s a pretty fascinating story, and only one example of the varied cultural tapestry here in the South Pacific that makes the region so interesting to visit.
If you’ve been considering a trip to Australia or New Zealand sometime in 2020, and wouldn’t mind doing it in economy class, then you won’t find much better of a deal than 20,000 Alaska miles one-way or 40,000 Alaska miles round-trip, with a Fiji stopover in one or both directions.
If you’re interested in this promotion, I’d recommend booking sooner rather than later if possible. While the award space is quite plentiful at the moment, it could well get snapped up rather quickly, and who knows if Fiji Airways would decide to release more prior to the end of the promotion on February 29.
This also represents a very unique promotion on Alaska’s part, and I’d be curious to see if there are any similar promotions in the future offering discounted redemption rates on any of their other partner airlines.