Update: Alaska and American have backtracked on this, as Alaska will become a full oneworld member airline.
Here’s some terrible news, both for frequent flyers on Alaska Airlines and American Airlines, as the two airlines are scaling back their partnership even further. Talk about two airlines that really can’t afford to lose any more partners.
Coming 2020: Huge Cuts To American & Alaska Partnership
It has just been revealed that huge cuts will be coming to the partnership between Alaska Airlines and American Airlines as of March 1, 2020.
For Alaska Mileage Plan members:
- You will no longer be able to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles on American Airlines international flights; mileage earning on domestic American flights had been cut in early 2018
- You will no longer be able to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on American Airlines, both domestically and internationally
Alaska Mileage Plan members can no longer earn miles on most American flights
For American AAdvantage members:
- You will no longer be able to redeem American AAdvantage miles for travel on Alaska Airlines, both domestically and internationally
American AAdvantage members can no longer earn miles on most Alaska flights
So, what’s not changing?
- You’ll continue to earn one Alaska and American miles on eligible codeshare flights between the two airlines (of which there aren’t many)
- Alaska Lounge members can continue to access American Admirals Clubs, and American Admirals Club members can continue to use Alaska Lounges, when flying on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines same day
Reciprocal lounge access will still be a perk
This Partnership Was Already Scaled Back
This is the second major round of cuts to this partnership in the past couple of years. As of January 1, 2018, American & Alaska already hugely scaled back their partnership:
- The airlines cut reciprocal mileage earning on domestic flights, with the exception of codeshare flights
- The airlines cut reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including free checked bags, priority boarding, preferred seating, and more
What’s The Motivation For These Changes?
These changes started happening right around the time that Alaska and Virgin America merged. Before the merger, the route networks of Alaska and American largely complemented one another, though that has changed:
- American has grown on the West Coast, especially out of their LAX hub (where Alaska also has a big presence)
- Virgin America had a lot of overlap with American’s route network, especially on transcon flights
So with the amount of overlap between the networks of the two carriers, I guess they don’t see much value in the partnership anymore.
It’s a shame to see the partnership between American and Alaska more or less ended. On the plus side, I’m happy that lounge access is surviving, since that comes in handy for me as someone with an American Admirals Club membership through the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, since that allows me to use Alaska Lounges.
While I understand the two airlines are more competitive than in the past due to the lack of diversification in route networks, this still seems like a really bad move. Neither Alaska nor American can afford to lose any more airline partners.
For what it’s worth, this shouldn’t impact the partnership between Alaska and British Airways, as redeeming Avios on Alaska is a great value.
Are you sad to see further cuts to the Alaska & American partnership?