Official: Alaska Airlines Will Join Oneworld Alliance In 2020

Filed Under: Alaska, oneworld

In February 2020, many of us were caught off guard when it was announced that Alaska Airlines would be joining the oneworld alliance by the summer of 2021.

Earlier this month we learned that Alaska’s membership in oneworld would be moved forward significantly, and today that has been made official.

Alaska Airlines will join oneworld this year

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has received its official invitation to join the oneworld alliance. This means that Alaska has become a oneworld member-elect, which will make it the alliance’s 14th airline.

While we don’t know exactly when Alaska Airlines will join the alliance, the plan is for this to be formalized before the end of the year. This process has been fast tracked significantly, which has been made easier by the fact that Alaska Airlines already has partnerships with several oneworld airlines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, and Qantas.

Alaska hopes to join the oneworld alliance in 2020

Here’s what Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden had to say about his airline joining oneworld:

“We’re excited to become a member of oneworld, the industry’s premier alliance, and honoured to receive this invitation. This milestone will improve connectivity and service for our guests throughout the West Coast and beyond. oneworld will open up a tremendous international network for our business and leisure travellers when they’re ready to start flying overseas again, in addition to greater connectivity around the U.S. through our network for international visitors. We’re eager to build deeper ties with the six oneworld members we already cooperate with, and looking forward to working with new partners that are some of the best airlines in the world.”

Then here’s what oneworld CEO Rob Gurney had to say about Alaska joining the alliance:

“The joining of Alaska Airlines will add another high-quality carrier to oneworld, allowing us to offer even more destinations and options to the customers served by our member airlines. It strengthens oneworld’s presence across the key airports on the US West Coast and will build rapidly on the existing partnerships in place between Alaska Airlines and other oneworld members.”

All of this comes as American Airlines continues to build up its presence in Seattle, with the airline planning on launching flights to Bangalore, London, and Shanghai. The two airlines have had a partnership for years, which was recently strengthened.

American is launching three long haul routes from Seattle

Questions remain about Alaska’s participation in oneworld

When it comes to the awesome Mileage Plan loyalty program, there are a lot of questions remaining about the implications of Alaska Airlines joining oneworld. We don’t have answers to these questions yet, though I know some of the things that I’m wondering about:

  • How will Alaska status map over to oneworld? Presumably MVP will get oneworld Ruby and MVP Gold will get oneworld Sapphire, but will MVP Gold 75K get oneworld Emerald?
  • Will Alaska lose any non-oneworld partners as the airline joins oneworld?
  • Alaska currently has a separate award chart for every partner airline, so will that continue, or will the airline simplify its award chart structure, which could be both a blessing and a curse?
  • With Alaska belonging to a more unified alliance, could we see the airline start to allow multiple partners on a single award ticket?
  • If a new award chart is introduced, will Alaska continue with its generous policies of allowing stopovers even on one way awards?

Will MVP Gold 75K status come with oneworld Emerald?

Alaska has historically done a phenomenal job with its Mileage Plan loyalty program, and I don’t think the airline is looking to lose any loyalty with this move. At the same time, I have a hard time imagining that everything will work in our favor.

Of course it would be awesome if there were a unified award chart with really low award pricing, with stopovers on one way awards, and with multiple airlines allowed on each award, but that also seems too good to be true.

I guess we’ll get the answers to many of these questions sooner rather than later.

How will Mileage Plan redemtpion rates change?

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines has officially received its invitation to join the oneworld alliance, with plans for the airline to formally join before the end of 2020. That sure is a fast tracked membership process. I’m excited about Alaska joining oneworld, though also have a lot of questions, and am a bit worried about the implications of this for the unique value proposition of Mileage Plan.

Personally I’m hoping — and even anticipate — that Mileage Plan will become one of the most lucrative oneworld airline loyalty programs.

What are you expecting from Mileage Plan when Alaska joins oneworld?

Comments
  1. So will there fantastic Qantas 55k business class awards now all be 80k ?
    And their Fiji business awards @ 45 k become 80K
    ugh likely

  2. Those that naively thought travel will come back quickly are going to find out that was a false hope. Airlines are starting to cut back due to low demand. Only a moron would take a vacation to FL, AZ, Texas, etc.

    We all wish this would go away but when you behave poorly it just kills more people and the economy.

  3. Will be very sad to see the end of one way F to SE Asia on Cathay with stopover in HK for 70k…no way that will live on.

  4. Well, we lost award redemptions on Singapore Airlines a few weeks ago so that’s one partner already off the list. 🙁

  5. Why would our AS MVP Gold 75K statuses NOT map to OneWorld Emerald?

    Are there ANY OneWorld airlines whose top tiers don’t map to Emerald?

    It never even occurred to me they might not do that.

  6. This is going to end up being a massive devaluation to the AS Mileage Plan. Award prices are going to rise, earning rates are going to go down.

    The only silver lining specifically for me is I will once again be able to earn useful miles on AA metal since they banned me.

  7. Alaska sent out a survey today to 75k members basically asking about getting rid of first class companion upgrades. They want to trade that for a meal or WiFi vouchers. That’s a huge perk and I’m guessing it will be part of the alignment. Big devaluation coming.

  8. Not predicting doom and gloom yet. Alaska has carved out their market with their service and loyalty program. If they start devaluing and looking more like American, they’ll lose their customers to Delta. It makes no sense to have Alaska join Oneworld and immediately force them to be uncompetitive and chase their loyal customers into the arms of Delta. American was doing that well enough on their own.

  9. @Bobo AA’s 75K level (Platinum Pro) maps to Sapphire so wouldn’t be so out of the blue to have MVP 75K do so as well. Theoretically Alaska could add a 100K tier that maps to Emerald.

  10. @Evaristo Soler,

    You already can, both internationally & domesticly.

    Starting April 1, 2020:

    Earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles on any American Airlines marketed and operated flights, domestically and internationally.

    Now fall 2020?

    Starting Summer 2021:
    Earn and redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles on all oneworld airlines (subject to award availability).
    Alaska elites will enjoy privileges, including priority boarding, premium seating, baggage benefits and more when you fly on American Airlines or any oneworld airline.
    MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75k members can access 650 lounges within the oneworld® airline network.

    @Kendor says:

    Don’t you mean an
    AS – AA aquisition/merger in 3 … 2 … 1 …

    @Lucky,

    Don’t forget top Tier MVPG75K is 75K on AS metal only, with partners 90K miles required. Even with class of service bonuses, it is more arduous to earn than 2X-3X distance EQM earnings on AA. EQD is a % of miles flown on partners so status is attainable with some optimization potential and the inflated EQM also earn towards Lifetime Status, AS is on AS metal only.

    A mile is a mile on AS but earning EQM on partners is effectively revenue based.

    I don’t follow your thinking that AS 75K (90K with partners) wouldn’t map to OWE.

  11. @dwondermeant
    Alaska only had the 40K one-way Business Awards on Fiji for a few months and there was hardly any inventory; the regular rate is 55K one-way, not 45K

  12. @Lucky, Do you think you’ll be able to book Alaska award flights through BA’s or AA’s website instead of having to call in? That’s what I’ve been hoping for!

  13. AS has been promoting Mileage Plan as the best in US (and yes that’s why AS is my only US based program). I think instead of devaluation, maybe they can make it harder to earn RDMs and increase the cost to purchase miles while keeping a not-to-harshly-devalued award chart (at least for the short term). Similarly 75K should be mapped to oneworld Emerald (it’s 25K 50K 90K respectively as for Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald if you earn with partners, so it’s a fair game for now). But being the only distance based program I feel like they will either introduce EQD or come up with a 100K tier as true Emerald, of course with reduced earnings on lower fare classes.

  14. I also wonder how the lounge access reciprocity will work with American and the citi AA card going forward.

  15. Question is will Ben still write blogs about buying Alaska Miles in the meantime?

    ~ The Honorable Reginald

  16. Huge waste of time and money!! oneworld with treat them like they treated US Airways, poorly!!

  17. @Peter: if anything, you shoukd be worried about Delta slowly losing its relevance in Seattle. With AS already being double the size in SEA, with extensive presence in the PNW including PDX and the entire west coast, DL/Sky will be the weakest player in the West coast.

  18. @KS in not sure that Alaska isn’t worried that Delta won’t still expand its footprint in Seattle. Look around, it’s happening NOW.

    Over the last three or four year Delta had became a more kinder Airlines with much better customer service. On the flip side Alaska had became the K-mart of customer service. Right, nonexistent. During this covid, waits for CSA have been at times five+hours on hold. Even the cruiselines wait time wasn’t that long.

    I had many customers lose award tickets that expired during the beginning of the shut down that AS won’t credit then back.

  19. @Jak: What’s happening ‘NOW’? AS is expanding like anything at SEA including proceeding with their CVG launch when DL just chickened out of their DFW launch plan.

    I hope you realize that the past 3-4 years are not a representation of what’s going to happen in the next 3-4 years. The US3 are going to be ~30% smaller. Are you saying that when they are loss-making, DL is going to successfully expand at all of SEA, BOS and MIA not even being the largest carrier at any airport? Times have changed. They are not the profit-churning machines that they used to be. They started picking up all these fights pre-covid. Good luck to them now!

  20. I look forward to QF First class award inventory between the US and Australia re-appearing. It used to be very available, then just dried up. Rumour was that MP declined inventory as it was selling seats too cheaply for Qantas’ liking and unwilling to increase redemption rates after the Emirates debacle. It simply disappeared without a peep from either carrier.
    I guess the looming devaluation (looking forward to their spin on that!) will solve that niggly issue!

  21. @Lucky says: the awesome Mileage Plan loyalty program, there

    Rob Gurney says: another high-quality carrier to oneworeld,

    Awesome? When Alaska fools everyone with the “mixed cabin” icon?

  22. This is good news for the oneworld alliance from a global perspective. I quite like AS, based on previous travel experiences. However, no practical relevance, since European travelers are banned indefinitely from entering the US, as it looks like.

  23. Well damn, glad I cashed in most all my miles on airfare to Japan in January. My guess is goodbye distance based earn 🙁

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