Ouch: American Airlines & Alaska Airlines Gut Partnership

Filed Under: Alaska, American
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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.

Bottom Line

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?

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  1. It is only a matter of time before BA cut ties with Alaska. This is really bad for Alaska. Looking back, their merge with Virgin doomed them. They lost Delta and AA partnership because of it.

  2. “…redeeming Avios on Alaska is a great value.”

    except Alaska’s domestic “First” Class is treated like international First Class, rather than Business Class when redeeming Avios.

  3. I’m SEA-based and was an EXP for years before switching to AS. I hate losing flexibility, and there have been times when we’ve booked AA flights using AS miles. But, typically, it’s been the other way around – using AA miles to book AS, as AS availability was just better. So, is this really that bad for AS flyers? At least for domestic award travel? The competition for award space will decrease, as it is much, much easier to earn AA miles than AS miles. Alaska losing yet another international partner is a big deal. But it’s been years since AA J availability has been any good and there’s better carriers to sit in Y in than AA.

  4. B6 should merge with AS, and Emirates should take a minority stake in it and provide global feed. It would make for a formidable competitor to has-been AA, failing-UA, and mega-DL

  5. I bet lounge access will go too, whenever the current agreement expires… Agree that this does not bode well for BA partnership as well although I never used miles on them due to the surcharges.

  6. This massively sucks. Alaska actually release award seats, so makes AA miles actually worth something…

  7. @Jackie the Delta Seattle Hub and subsequent cutting of that partnership happened before the merger. If anything I imagine AS bought Virgin as a result of that cut.

    Some of this cut in partnership with AA was due to antitrust issues with the merger, the rest is sour grapes, I think.

  8. The code sharing still exists and that’s all that matters… Filling in each others gaps… But of course the Delta cheerleader would never point that out, he just says the partnerships basically over… Not!!!

  9. As someone who regularly flies between Alaska and South America (Chile/Argentina), this, plus Delta snapping up LATAM is a huge negative. I love AS (its the only real viable option if you live in Alaska) am 75k, and relied on flying American PE internationally to earn/keep AS status. If Latam ends their AS partnership, it will be rough!

  10. IMHO, good riddance to AA, whose overall flight product is well below AS quality anyway. Hope AS can find a new partner more in their league!

  11. @Alonzo
    That makes no sense. Why would Chase add Alaska as a transfer program? AA and AS both have no transfer programs from credit card miles.

  12. Ugh, i feel like this will make redeeming international awards harder—two of the last three I’ve done were alaska miles on American (to Japan and Latin America). Since alaska doesn’t go outside North America, fewer partners is really bad.

  13. JFC this is pretty awful and a colossal devaluation for AS Miles and Aadvantage miles.

    This partnership is necessary on the east coast or midwest where an AA/AS itinerary was often a good value, especially when AA was charging less than half of what AS was for a redemption. (Say I was flying to Seattle from Charlotte, I could connect at Chicago or stopover at JFK.) Hell it seems like half of AA’s transcon saver availability is on Alaska. The fact these itineraries aren’t even going to be possible for awards is a huge black eye.

    I’d say Alaska/JetBlue need to get over their bitterness about the Virgin merger (also Alaska should not have bought Virgin) except both of them need some kind of mid con hub. AA provided that (weirdly enough for both of them).

  14. Ultimately, Alaska should acquire JetBlue. Their route networks are complimentary, B6 would fill many of the gaps to Eastern US/Central America/South America/Caribbean left by losing AA, and now that AS operates the A320 family as well as E-175/190’s the fleet type issue is lessened.

  15. I also am having trouble finding award flights on Alaska’s website on LATAM early next year. Is this a pre-emptive end to that partnership as well?

  16. I am frankly shocked! I thought AS was considering joining OneWorld in some form (e.g. OneWorld Connect or outright member), which would mean they should want closer relationship with AA…

    Well, as @Parag said, AA is on a ROLL.

  17. I booked an April 2020 trip using AA miles, three legs, two of which are actually AS. So far, the flights look normal, no changes. I hope that remains because I upgraded the two AS legs to Premium Class already.

  18. Philip Buhagiar says:
    October 2, 2019 at 11:15 am
    “… Alaska actually release award seats, so makes AA miles actually worth something…”

    …What does that mean ?

  19. Marks the continued deterioration of AS. First Delta gone, now AA. I’m MVP Gold and rarely an upgrade anymore. Last trip to Chicago was Row 28. Why not switch to Delta now: stop my bleeding??

    DL in Seattle

  20. Don’t ask me how I know, lol, but a pretty good part of the reason for the split is that AS management could not condone the horrible service and delivery levels that consumes AA right now. They don’t want anything to jeopardize the JD Powers awards they ha e been getting every year. It’s huge to them and drives their service levels

  21. Don’t ask me how I know, lol, but a pretty good part of the reason for the split is that AS management could not condone the horrible service and delivery levels that consumes AA right now. They don’t want anything to jeopardize the JD Powers awards they ha e been getting every year. It’s huge to them and drives their service levels

  22. Biggest downfall I see from this is not being able to use the AA site to determine whether an AS flight is bookable with BA Avios. Guess you’ll just have to find an AS flight at saver level and call BA to check?

  23. Curious, I have not been able to gain AA miles on Alaska or the other way around for over a year. Are you sure this is new?

  24. “What’s The Motivation For These Changes?”

    because Delta already did it, so AA had to follow.

  25. Glad Alaska is getting rid of American with it’s rude service. America seated my wife, two year old, and I in three separate rows. And when my wife talked to the boarding agent they made my wife ask the person in the seat next to her to move so my two year old wouldn’t sit a lone. That isn’t my wife’s job, what a shitty airline. And we had booked tickets through Alaska.

  26. Major loss for me. What’s the answer to the first question? If I get a business class ticket before March 2020 with Alaska miles for an an international flight on American, will that be honored?

  27. Another huge blow for AA. I rarely find AA saver availability, but often find Alaska. Already requalified for EXP for next year, but will really focus on shifting business to UA (NYC- based, so AA JFK/LGA cuts are huge)

  28. “DL says:

    B6 should merge with AS, and Emirates should take a minority stake in it and provide global feed. It would make for a formidable competitor to has-been AA, failing-UA, and mega-DL”

    DL – I guess that sounds good in theory except for that little issue of Federal restrictions on the amount of stock any foreign airline by buy (or control) of US based airlines. In other words – ain’t gonna happen!

  29. AS needs some international and LATAM partner help fast. I’m 75K and may drop back on spend as my travel isn’t 100% domestic. AA was a part of several trips.

    DL would be an option for all.

    Pity for AS that I’m based in the PNW.

  30. I’m an MVP Gold 75k on Alaska and this doesn’t really phase me. Before the Virgin merger I used American all the time for transcontinental flights, but that’s been completely unnecessary post merger.

    Also, for the record, contrary to what some are saying in the comments, the AS/DL divorce occurred long before the acquisition of Virgin and is unrelated.

  31. I live in Kelowna. AC, AS, or WestJet. With this change we are screwed for any flights to the Caribbean or South America. Unless you want to pay AC’s ridiculous YQ surcharges.
    Very sad day

  32. I’m an AA EXP and this is no surprise to me. The American and Alaska “partnership” has been contemptuous for some time now.

  33. The tricky thing with any partnership between AS and B6 is that B6’s ff program is revenue based and AS MP is old school miles-based. We _definitely_ don’t want AS to go in that direction. But many B6 flyers would credit to AS, especially on transcon routes.

  34. How would AS miles be redeemed to fly to Europe ? BA has outrageous surcharges and Iceland air charges insane amounts -120k round trip in Economy! On top of that Iceland air has no direct flights out of Sea, so I would need 2 Stopovers to fly almost everywhere ! What are they thinking?

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