Alaska Airlines Joins Oneworld Alliance: What You Need To Know

Alaska Airlines Joins Oneworld Alliance: What You Need To Know

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It’s a big day for both Alaska Airlines and the oneworld alliance, as the Seattle-based airline has officially joined a global alliance today. This plan was initially announced in February 2020, just over a year ago. Let’s take a look at what we know about Alaska Airlines’ new membership in oneworld, as there are still some unanswered questions.

Details of Alaska Airlines & oneworld

In many ways it seems like the “big three” global alliances are less important to airlines than before, or are at least losing steam. Airlines have instead focused on joint ventures and reciprocal partnerships, since ultimately there’s only so much airlines in an alliance can have in common.

Alaska Airlines has now joined the oneworld alliance

That’s also why Alaska Airlines choosing to join the oneworld alliance is significant. Alaska Airlines is the latest airline to join oneworld after Royal Air Maroc joined the oneworld alliance in the spring of 2020. However, around the same time LATAM left the oneworld alliance, as it continues to pursue its relationship with Delta.

If you go to oneworld’s website you’ll now see Alaska Airlines listed as a member, and you can expect oneworld airport signage around the world to be updated as well.

The members of the oneworld alliance

The American & Alaska partnership

Alaska Airlines joining oneworld is part of a bigger play whereby we’re seeing the airline cooperate more closely with American Airlines. The two airlines ultimately realize they’re better off working together than separately, in particular to compete with Delta:

American Airlines will be boosting its presence in Seattle

What does oneworld alliance mean for earning Alaska miles?

Alaska Airlines has long had a unique set of global airline partners, and the list of airline partners has expanded as of today. Alaska already partnered with several oneworld airlines prior to joining oneworld, including American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas, and Qatar Airways.

With Alaska now being in oneworld, it should be possible to:

  • Earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on all oneworld airlines
  • Earn miles with all oneworld airlines for travel on Alaska Airlines

You can find all of Alaska Mileage Plan’s mileage earning rates on partner airlines on this page.

Alaska Airlines already had partnerships with several oneworld airlines

What does oneworld alliance mean for redeeming Alaska miles?

Even though Alaska Airlines has joined the oneworld alliance, it’s business as usual when it comes to redeeming Mileage Plan miles for now, and that’s probably a good thing.

Alaska Airlines has announced that additional oneworld awards will only be launched in the summer of 2021, and the program aims to provide at least 90 days notice of any award chart changes.

It’s already possible to redeem Mileage Plan miles on several oneworld partner airlines, including American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, and Qantas.

There are so many amazing sweet spots when it comes to redeeming Mileage Plan miles, and as of now there are a lot more questions than answers, with the most significant being:

  • Will Alaska Mileage Plan continue to allow free stopovers on awards?
  • Will Alaska Mileage Plan continue to only allow awards on a single partner airline, or will you be able to book awards that include travel on multiple airlines?
  • 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?

Will we see Alaska redemption rates on Cathay Pacific increase?

What does oneworld alliance mean for Alaska Mileage Plan status?

One of the benefits of a global airline allowance is that you receive certain standardized perks when traveling on partner airlines. Here’s how Alaska Mileage Plan status maps over to oneworld:

  • Alaska MVP status gets you oneworld Ruby
  • Alaska MVP Gold status gets you oneworld Sapphire
  • Alaska MVP Gold 75K status gets you oneworld Emerald

This is exciting for Mileage Plan members — especially top tier elites, since I consider oneworld Emerald status to be the most valuable alliance elite status.

What else should we expect in terms of status for Alaska Airlines joining oneworld?

  • You can now earn elite miles for travel on all oneworld partner airlines
  • We know that Alaska Mileage Plan will be introducing a new 100K elite tier, but we don’t know details beyond that just yet

Access some amazing lounges with oneworld Emerald status

What does oneworld alliance mean for Alaska’s non-oneworld partners?

One of the things that has long made Alaska Airlines unique is its partnerships. For example, Alaska Airlines has partnerships with several non-oneworld airlines, ranging from Emirates Airline, to Hainan Airlines, to Icelandair, to Singapore Airlines.

As of now there has been no announcement of any of these partnerships ending. Airlines are allowed to have partnerships outside of alliances, though in some cases the dynamics do change. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some partnerships eventually end, though only time will tell how this plays out.

For example, historically Alaska and Emirates have had a close partnership. However, with Qatar Airways now flying to Seattle, and also cooperating more closely with both Alaska and American, one has to wonder if the Emirates partnership might change a bit.

Will Alaska’s partnership with Emirates survive?

What does oneworld alliance mean for Alaska Lounge access?

With Alaska joining oneworld, there are immediate lounge access implications, both when it comes to Alaska Mileage Plan elite members accessing partner airlines, and other oneworld elite members accessing Alaska Lounges:

  • American AAdvantage Platinum members and above can now access Alaska Lounges when flying a oneworld airline in most international markets same day
  • All non-Alaska Mileage Plan and non-American AAdvantage oneworld Sapphire members and above can access Alaska Lounges when flying a oneworld airline in any market same day (this includes domestic flights)
  • Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold members can now access all oneworld Sapphire lounges (including American Admirals Clubs), and Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K members can now access all oneworld Emerald lounges, when flying a oneworld airline in most international markets same day

Alaska Lounges are now open to select oneworld elite members

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines has now officially joined the oneworld alliance, which is an exciting development. The reality is that this probably doesn’t have too many immediate implications for most, between travel restrictions currently in place, plus new oneworld award redemptions only being rolled out in summer.

Still, as of today it should be possible to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles on all oneworld partner airlines, and vice versa. Furthermore, Alaska elite members can start taking advantage of all oneworld elite perks.

For many of us, the biggest question is what happens to Mileage Plan redemptions when they’re updated this summer.

What do you make of Alaska Airlines joining oneworld?

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  1. Morgan

    This might be a dumb question but my work travel is split almost 50/50 between American and Alaska and I’m wondering if I should be banking all miles with one airline to achieve higher status vs. gaining mid tier status with both. Is this possible? Would I simply list one frequent flyer number on all bookings? Thanks for any suggestions…

  2. Tony

    They are now part of a worldwide alliance yet they match ONLY to us residents! Very limited view that people who live abroad cannot and will not fly AS?! Really.... Makes sense to go out of ones way to avoid AS flights if they think this way.

    Not a big loss but you would think a DL elite or UA elite member is likely to also fly domestic flights

  3. Bill Cason

    So there are no AS flights available for reward booking for AUS/ANC on the AA.COM site.

    Is this a ramp-up problem or will they never show those on AA? If so what's the point of OneWorld membership?

  4. Steven L.

    I'm just wondering when they'll update their booking codes look-up for JAL to re-enable redeeming for JAL F.

  5. Luc

    CK acces to Alaska lounges on domestic flights??

  6. Nevsky

    Oneworld may be an alliance, but try interlining bags. Not required. Maybe AA will do it with AS though.

  7. Kyle

    So if I’m AS MVP and want to use these benefits on an only AA metal routing, where do I book? On AS.com I must fly one leg on AS and that can’t happen (flying PBI to KOA) I just want to fly AA. Do I book on AA.com and input my AS credentials? Seems to make zero sense to me.

    1. Ben

      @ Kyle -- Yep, just book through American and enter your Mileage Plan number, and you'll have access to these benefits.

  8. Ryan

    I do not see the point of joining an alliance if you do not release any award space to partners! I have been looking for several trips for months with no luck (booking alaska flights with BA avios...have yet to see a single alaska flight be available on American's website). Starting to regret my decision to credit international flights to avios in hope of flying with alaska.....

  9. D3kingg

    Ben I get the potential of American expansion in Seattle but they are committed to LAX long term. American is building a $1.5 billion dollar renovation at LAX. I believe Delta committed to something similar.

  10. Isma

    Hi Ben

    Presently their are no award booking using Alaska miles on Alaska booking site from Toronto, Canada to Johannesbery, South Africa.

    It with be interesting to see how much miles required to book on Qatar Airlines
    as compared to Emirates

    Ismail

  11. INS Vikrant

    I'm an AA EXP and often fly AS on short hops from SFO -> SEA, so this is great news for me! Especially once reciprocal upgrades are rolled out.

    Seems like the functionality isn't fully rolled out. I have my AAdvantage # in all my upcoming alaska reservations and it still shows Premium class as a $25 upgrade.

  12. shoeguy

    @Ben, I would agree, a merger between AA and AS isn't on the immediate horizon but it is likely to be down the road. AA isn't broke. If they were, they'd file Chapter 11 and perhaps they will again and not hold off like they did post 9/11, which hurt them in many ways and allowed DL and UA to achieve far lower operating costs. AA has been doing a lot of things right in...

    @Ben, I would agree, a merger between AA and AS isn't on the immediate horizon but it is likely to be down the road. AA isn't broke. If they were, they'd file Chapter 11 and perhaps they will again and not hold off like they did post 9/11, which hurt them in many ways and allowed DL and UA to achieve far lower operating costs. AA has been doing a lot of things right in the last year and the rap they get isn't fully deserved. They're no better or worse than UA and slightly behind DL whose halo effect is more perception than reality. The hard truth is the industry cannot afford another year of billions in losses. The government isn't likely to step in again. The outcome of a further drop in travel demand is a series of government induced mergers, similar to what has happened in the financial services sector in 2008 in the name of too big to fail. AA/AS, UA/B6, DL/WN. The ULCCs can combine into one.

  13. D.A.

    How soon will it be that American forces Alaska to move Mileage
    Plan earning from the current true mileage based system to the AA revenue based system? It has got to be inevitable.

    Once it does happen, my current high opinion of Alaska's FFP will be lost forever. In the meantime, given the same cheap fares, I will fly AS and get 5000+ FF miles for a transcon R/T, instead of AA for 300 FF miles.

  14. eaci

    As a note, there are now earning charts posted for every oneworld partner. They seem to be distinct per-partner.

  15. Gabe

    A mostly good day for AS elites. Want to highlight that AS did also release details of status reciprocity with AA today as well: https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/how-to-earn-miles/airline-partners/american-airlines/elite-benefits

  16. George

    To confirm an MVP Gold can now access oneworld Sapphire lounges and AA Admirals Clubs, but only on an international ticket? So I can’t access these lounges when flying domestically?

  17. Ben

    I wouldn’t rule out a merger between AA and AS, but it won’t be anytime soon. AA is broke, and deeply in debt. Alaska still trying to make sense out of that overpriced VX acquisition. One thing is for sure they hate DL, and they gonna be a thorn on its side.

  18. OliverBoliver

    Fiji Airways is Oneworld Connect!! Who are you and what have you done with Ben?

  19. shoeguy

    AS and AA move a small step closer to eventually merging. DL's aspirations in SEA will come under increasing pressure but I don't see DL giving up on the SEA gateway.

Featured Comments Load all 20 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Morgan

This might be a dumb question but my work travel is split almost 50/50 between American and Alaska and I’m wondering if I should be banking all miles with one airline to achieve higher status vs. gaining mid tier status with both. Is this possible? Would I simply list one frequent flyer number on all bookings? Thanks for any suggestions…

Tony

They are now part of a worldwide alliance yet they match ONLY to us residents! Very limited view that people who live abroad cannot and will not fly AS?! Really.... Makes sense to go out of ones way to avoid AS flights if they think this way. Not a big loss but you would think a DL elite or UA elite member is likely to also fly domestic flights

Bill Cason

So there are no AS flights available for reward booking for AUS/ANC on the AA.COM site. Is this a ramp-up problem or will they never show those on AA? If so what's the point of OneWorld membership?

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