How I Saved $1,000 on Flights to Alaska

I just saved a solid $1,000 on two roundtrip tickets to Alaska. That’s $1,000 that’s staying in my pocket, just by crafting and sticking to a plan to best utilize points and miles.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post called, “How to get two free tickets to Alaska.” It was the first major post I put together about credit card rewards and points. I went into detail about my application for the Frontier Airlines Mastercard, which provides 40,000 bonus miles. The benefit of flying with Frontier is that while most airlines require 25,000-30,000 points for a roundtrip flight, Frontier’s point redemptions come in lower, often at 20,000 per roundtrip. That means that 40,000 points can get you two roundtrip tickets.

Only 10,000 reward miles can get you a ticket to Alaska! 20,000 and some cash for taxes and you've got yourself a roundtrip ticket.

Only 10,000 reward miles can get you a ticket to Alaska! 20,000 and some cash for taxes and you’ve got yourself a roundtrip ticket.

Another benefit is that these lower 20,000 point tickets INCLUDE Alaska. Most airline’s cheapest points redemptions include only the lower 48 states. This makes Frontier points quite valuable in this regard. So while I could use my Frontier points to go anywhere Frontier flies, the points fit perfectly with my goal to visit, “The Last Frontier,” and I titled my post, “How to get two free tickets to Alaska.”

But many months later and it was now time to put my money, (or points) where my mouth is. With a hatred of the cold, (so of course I’m going to Alaska??…) I wanted to visit sometime in the summer. And this upcoming summer provided a great opportunity to go. With my current job ending and getting the opportunity to visit family for the summer, I’d surmised that I’d most likely be in the northeast and I looked for flights.

One of the benefits of earning points and miles is sharing them with others. Not only does it pique people’s interest, but it can be a nice change to travel with a friend or family member instead of an all solo trip. So for this trip, I’d be going with my brother and flying into Alaska for the week. He was tremendously interested at first, though asked, “That’s going to be a heck of an expensive plane ticket though, won’t it?” I told him, “I got it covered,” and explained my Frontier miles.

My brother would have to request vacation time, so we were tied to a specific departure and return date. I searched out the cheapest tickets possible, regardless of airline, for the week trip and found two flights on Delta for just over $1,100.00

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Knowing I’d be using my Frontier miles, I checked out what a flight on Frontier would cost me. It came to just under $1,400. Ouch.

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So instead of spending $1,400. Or even $1,110. I decided using my points would be my preference. I went to Frontier, clicked, “Redeem Miles” for the itinerary I had just looked at and checked out the options.

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For 40,000 miles and just $10.00 and I’d have my two roundtrip tickets to Alaska. Unfortunately no matter what I did, I couldn’t confirm the tickets. I kept getting this message. The Frontier website is traditionally VERY buggy.

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Eventually I called into Frontier. Despite waiting for no less than 30 minutes to reach someone, when I finally did the rep was very sweet and helpful. We walked each other through what we were doing and she found the mistake. The taxes were supposed to be $10 per person instead of $10 total. So the cost of 40k miles and $10 should have been 40k miles and $20. The website had a mistake and because of it, wasn’t letting people book that reward ticket.

I told her that was no problem and I still wanted the tickets. Now like some other airlines, Frontier charges a booking fee if you call in and a representative has to book the ticket for you. I asked the rep to waive the charge since it was the fault of the website that I couldn’t book it. She said that was fine and she would waive the booking fee.

10 minutes later and I was good to go. I had my confirmation email with Reservation Code!

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I’d just picked up two roundtrip tickets all the way from New York to Alaska and back, for just $20. For that price I’d probably spring for the extra stretch seating! Even if I’d forgone Frontier and gone with the cheapest option I’d found with Delta, I’d still be saving over $1,000 on the flights!

Saving 20 or 30 dollars here and there on travel is good, but sometimes the response I’ll get from people is lukewarm. Sometimes they think the work and planning and record keeping needed to save $30 just isn’t worth it. When I tell people I’ve saved in the hundreds of dollars, their interest picks up a bit. “Huh, that’s interesting. Tell me more.”

But when I tell people I’ve saved $1,000 or more? Then things “get real,” so to speak. Saving four figures or more on a travel expense is just too much to not make you re-consider your travel plans. Even if I spring for stretch seating and check a bag or two on my trip to Alaska, I’ll have saved a solid $1,000 on two roundtrip tickets to Alaska.

Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Instead of lamenting how expensive it is and that keeping track of points and miles is, “just too much work,” put a plan together and stick with it. Knowing I wanted to go to Alaska at some point, I picked up the Frontier airlines credit card. And even though I won’t see results until about six months after I picked up the card last winter, my hard work and pre-planning will have paid off come August. Between my ticket and the ticket I’m treating my brother to, I save over $1,000!