It seems the great unaligned airline of the Northwest of the USA – Alaska Airlines – is finally making a move to an alliance – with oneworld seemingly being the destination in a press release yesterday by the two airlines
Alaska Airlines will move to integrate into oneworld by Summer 2021.
Coinciding with the news, American Airlines will launch long-haul services from Seattle be Bangalore, India beginning in October 2020, and London Heathrow in 2021
The airlines will continue to domestic codeshares where they exist and will expand to international routes covering Seattle and Los Angeles. This was due to shrink in March, but this move will keep those codeshares alive and well
Let’s break things apart from what was announced.
The good news
For those oneworld flyers who use Alaska Airlines at the moment, but only get points and not qualifying credit for elite status, this will be a major boon. For North America flyers it’s going to open up the West Coast and North West quickly. This will also open up frequent flyer benefits like luggage, lounge access, fast track and so on.
Alaska and American loyalty members will enjoy benefits across both airlines, including the ability to earn and use miles on both airlines’ full networks, elite status reciprocity and lounge access to nearly 50 American Admirals Club lounges worldwide and seven Alaska Lounges in the U.S – a useful feature too.
For those sets of frequent flyers – some welcome options indeed.
The bad news
Whilst Alaska Airlines has been “picking and choosing” who it wishes to partner with, a lot of these are outside oneworld
Currently inside oneworld
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Fiji (Oneworld Connect)
Currently “friendly” to oneworld
- Aer Lingus
Outside of oneworld
- Condor (unaligned)
- EL AL(unaligned)
- Emirates (unaligned)
- Hainan Airlines (unaligned)
- Icelandair (unaligned)
- Korean Air (SkyTeam)
- LATAM (soon to be unaligned, but close to Delta)
- Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance)
For those with big Alaska Airline Mileage Plan Balances and want to fly on the airlines listed (no doubt, a lot will be considering Emirates and Singapore Airlines), now is the time to start lining up those redemptions. There’s no way to tell if they will keep these relationships as they continue their membership into oneworld, or if they retain them after accession.
Ben Minicucci, president of Alaska Airlines. said
“Alaska has always been proud to serve Seattle, the city that we call home. We’re thrilled to give our guests more choice, broader use of loyalty benefits, and seamless global service with American and oneworld,”
“Additionally, international service to global business and tech hubs Heathrow and Bangalore is a tremendous win for the growing Seattle region and the West Coast.”
Robert Isom, president of American Airlines.
“Alaska Airlines has been an outstanding partner for nearly 40 years, and we’re excited to expand West Coast international service together,”
“By connecting American’s strength in long-haul international flying and Alaska’s presence across the West Coast, we will build a better network for our customers than either airline could build alone. Together, we will deliver more value, benefits and choice for customers across the U.S. and around the globe.”
Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and Chief Commercial Officer of Alaska Airlines
“This alliance further opens the world for Alaska Airlines guests, whether traveling for business or pleasure,”
“And importantly for our employees, and the communities we serve, this West Coast international alliance enables Alaska’s continued independent growth. As we’ve shared, we’re focused on delivering for our guests over the long-term – which means continued profitable growth to enable new aircraft and new opportunities. This supports those goals, and is an important step on the path.”
Some interesting times ahead
Delta’s growth in the Seattle area has been fantastic – and it seems its enough for Alaska Airlines to seek new partners or a deeper relationship with another airline to counter it.
Whilst the airline market in the USA has consolidated in the majors – who knows – this could be the opening salvo of a new wave of consolidation.
For flyers and mileage collectors – be aware.
The old adage of keeping “just enough” miles or points in a frequent flyer account is a true one – Having an overflow of points of miles can be detrimental when it comes to changes in programmes (and normally – the mileage collector loses out when they find the points they accrued are devalued.
Whilst I don’t have an Alaska Mileage Plan balance or membership if I did – I would be
- Working towards enough miles for my planned “big redemption” as soon as possible, and redeeming those miles
- Adopt an earn and burn strategy – especially if you’re considering redemptions on airlines outside the sphere of oneworld. If you’re considering redemption inside oneworld
- Accruing miles that you need for both status as needed – in case you want to match to the oneworld statuses (Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald)
Your circumstances will be different – but its worth having a think – especially if you want to fly Emirates or Singapore Airlines on Alaska Airlines on points…
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