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NOW DEAD: An Icelandair/Alaska FAQ…And How to Bring The Price Down Below $300 Via Miles Sharing…and 10 Day Wait Period Lifted


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?
A: 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) 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.

Hello everyone,

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

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  1. Can you book tickets for other people under your account? like if I want to book a ticket for my wife or sisters?

  2. @Dusten

    I booked for my inlaws under my account. Its no problem.

  3. Are people confirming availability with the airline still before buying the miles? Do they get angry when you do that? If you find availability on Expertflyer is it pretty safe to buy the miles at that point? I just don’t want to get stuck with 60,000 miles I can’t use.

    Also, are hold times getting better. Over the weekend I gave up.

  4. Thank you Jared! Had not heard of your site, and now I’m signed up for your email.
    I was able to book San Diego to Maui and then return from HNL as an open jaw. The agent told me at first that wasn’t possible. And she said there wasn’t availability on one of my dates. When I told here I saw it on Expertflyer she dug back in and made it happen. Gotta love Expertflyer and the power of knowing before you call.

  5. I noticed on Iceland Air’s website that they offer a discount for kids on award seats. Anyone know if that applies to partner awards too? If so, this makes it an INSANE deal for my family of 4…

  6. I called twice and both time the availability did not match up with Alaska’s website. anyone else finding the same results?

    • It doesn’t match w/Alaska’s site – you need to look at Expertflyer (free 5-day trial) and find availability in A class for First or W for coach.

      • Hm. I’m seeing A-class availability on AS on ExpertFlyer for the flights that I want, but the Icelandair agents that I just spoke with aren’t seeing it or don’t think it’s available to them. Should I keep trying back, or are they likely to be correct?

  7. Jared, it appears the 10 day hold is still in place for some people.

    I just got done chatting with someone on trying to find out why the points didn’t post, and here’s what they said:
    “Alright, here’s what we’ve found. The transaction didn’t go through because your account is too new. It has to be at least 10 days old before transactions can be done on it. As a result, the charge that you see is actually just an authorization hold on the credit card. No money has been charged to the card and the hold will automatically drop off.”

    When I asked about the 10 day wait being waived, she said she didn’t know anything about it.

    • @matt- you need to call them back. No one else has had that problem. thx

      • Should I call IcelandAir? The people at said they couldn’t do anything.

        Also, it seems like a few people today are noticing that points aren’t posting immediately. Do you think something might have changed?

        • I called IcelandAir and they said that they indeed got rid of the 10 day hold, so I’m not sure what the miss communication is between them and Either way, I tried again with my fiance’s account, and it gave me a confirmation #, the charge is authorized on my card, and the rep at IcelandAir said it was pending on their end and should be there by the morning. I have a feeling blocked it again, but I guess we’ll see what happens.

  8. This is fascinating! I’m definitely going to Hawaii and can be a bit flexible on my travel, so I’m definitely in.

    It’s all an exercise in patience: I signed up on Iceland Air for a Saga account yesterday, but it couldn’t support selling points (too slammed, I bet). This morning I was able to buy points, but they haven’t shown up on my account yet. I can see my credit card is processing them, though.

    I’ve signed up to try out expertflyer so I can look for seats – there are some A seats left, but not a lot. It looks like if I fly with a stopover, I can probably get first class for the flight to HNL but perhaps not from PDX to LAX or to SAN. Or if I book an A on one leg, will I have it on the other leg? I assume not but it’s a bit hard to interpret for a newbie.

  9. I finally got my Saga club number via email. I signed up last Thursday night. Now off to find flights!

  10. Oh, right, I forgot I had to be specific about where I would stop over. I’ll be sure to use your handy chart! Now I just have to wait for the miles to hit my account (I’m about 9 hours post-purchase so hopefully they’ll show up soon!).

  11. Am I calculating this correctly? I can buy 50k points on one account for 75k isk ($413) then receive a 10k bonus which puts me at 60k points. This allows me to buy 2 first class tickets. I’m not sure why it’s cheaper than what you listed or why I need to transfer points? Thanks.

  12. When i checked expertflyer, For some dates it show no availability message and for some other dates, it show flight details with 0 seat availability. do they mean same? i guess we need to have some seat availability for booking. am i correct?

  13. Just confirmed with IcelandAir Saga Club rep that the 10 day hold for purchasing points (account must be older than 10 days) is back on after they lifted it for a few days. Both of my points purchases got turned down. This would probably explain why people aren’t seeing their points.

  14. hey jared, i am based in europe and would like to fly from copenhagen to new york with the icelandair miles (its really cheap compared to regular ticket prices). as i’m fairly new to this, do u know if a stopover in iceland is permitted?

  15. I am having trouble getting a Saga Club account established. I registered, didn’t receive a confirmation email, and now although I get an error when I try to login with my email address, I also can’t create an account because it says an account already exists under that email address. I’ve sent an email to see if they can assist me. Just thought I’d post this in case others are having the issue as well.

  16. Quick question. Can I buy 90000 points, and then book 3 different people on the same trip through 1 Saga account, or do I need an account in each persons name? In short, can I book flights for other people on my account.

  17. Whew – I think I’m booked! It took me three attempts to buy miles; the first two couldn’t be processed for some reason. Then it took two calls – on the first the agent said they had nothing on the date I chose (though I’d just verified it) so I called back with different dates and think I’m in. I guess it still has to go to their ticketing department, so …we’ll see! This has been fun!

    • Congrats! When did you make your 3 purchases? Still trying to figure out if I should try again.

      • Matt, I opened my account Monday Aug 20, made my first purchase attempt on Tuesday morning (21st), my second purchase attempt Wednesday (22nd) and third, finally-successful attempt on Thursday (23rd). I booked my ticket today (Friday 24th).

  18. Any good deals on flights from the West coast airports to anywhere on the Alaska network using these Saga miles (SFO, SJC, OAK, LAX, BUR, LGB, SNA, ONT, SAN)?

    Any good use of these miles on other Iceland partners within Europe, and to Asia from Europe for example (not on the Alaska network obviously)?

  19. are there are other costs involved in redeeming these points from europe to NY? eg: fuel surcharge, administrative costs etc? how much would these be?

  20. Anyone else having trouble getting a seat if there are not 3 seats available in the A bucket? That seems to be the magic number currently.

    • I think I may be having that same issue. Called to change a reservation I made the other day (still not ticketed), and they can’t find space on one of the flights where both expertflyer and show 2 A seats available. This restriction wasn’t in place the other day. Hopefully they fix this.

  21. Travel with Grant - Interview with Grant | Million Mile Secrets - pingback on July 5, 2013 at 3:59 am

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