Alaska Airlines will be joining the oneworld alliance as of March 31, 2021, which is an exciting development. However, we shouldn’t expect awards on all oneworld partner airlines to be introduced immediately.
Mileage Plan oneworld awards coming summer 2021
With Alaska Airlines joining the oneworld alliance in several weeks, there have been a lot of questions about what this means for the future of redeeming Mileage Plan miles.
It’s worth noting that Alaska Airlines only plans to introduce award redemptions on all oneworld airlines as of the summer of 2021 (which would be sometime between late June and late September).
While it should be possible to earn Mileage Plan miles on all oneworld airlines as soon as the airline joins the alliance, it will be several months before redemptions are allowed on all partners.
Fortunately Mileage Plan miles can already be redeemed on many oneworld partners through existing bilateral agreements, including for travel on American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, and Qantas.
This timeline update doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that an Alaska Airlines spokesperson had told View from the Wing several weeks back that:
- Alaska Airlines would aim to provide at least 90 days of notice of any award chart changes
- Alaska Airlines wasn’t planning on changing any oneworld partner award prices as of March 31, 2021
You can already redeem Alaska miles for Japan Airlines first class
There are still lots of questions about redemption rates
Alaska Mileage Plan takes an unconventional approach to partner award pricing, and ultimately it’s what makes the program so valuable from a redemption standpoint:
- Alaska Mileage Plan allows stopovers even on one-way awards
- Alaska Mileage Plan’s award pricing on partner airlines is incredibly reasonable, with each airline having a separate award chart
I know many people are dreading Alaska joining oneworld because they fear it will ruin the value proposition of redeeming Mileage Plan miles. As of now we have a lot more questions than answers:
- Will Alaska Mileage Plan continue to allow free stopovers on awards?
- Will Alaska Mileage Plan create a single, unified award chart (rather than separate charts for each partner), and if so, will we see award redemption rates climb significantly?
Between border closures and everything else, I’d consider it a net positive for consumers that Alaska Airlines doesn’t plan to introduce awards on all oneworld partners until some point in summer 2021, since it means current award pricing will be maintained for a while. I also appreciate Alaska’s intention to provide at least three months notice of any changes.
What will happen to Cathay Pacific first class award rates?
Alaska Airlines is joining the oneworld alliance as of March 31, though only plans to introduce awards on all oneworld airlines as of the summer of 2021. Alaska already separately partners with several oneworld airlines, and those redemptions will continue to be available.
Frankly I’d consider these delayed redemptions to be a good thing, given the spectacular value of Mileage Plan awards. We have no clue what the new program will look like, though I have a hard time imagining it will be much better than the current one.
What are you expecting from Alaska Mileage Plan oneworld awards?
(Tip of the hat to Loyalty Lobby)