Alaska Airlines Plans to Join oneworld Alliance in the Summer of 2021; Expands Partnership With American Airlines

After their partnership gradually eroded to almost nonexistent during the past three years, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines stunned the world of frequent fliers by announcing a suddenly strengthened partnership to give travelers along the west coast of the United States more choices when traveling internationally, offer seamless access across a broader network, and provide strategic growth for both airlines — as well as notice of the plan for Alaska Airlines to join the oneworld alliance as a full member.

Alaska Airlines Plans to Join oneworld Alliance in the Summer of 2021; Expands Partnership With American Airlines

Alaska Airlines

Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

When Alaska Airlines first announced on Sunday, July 9, 2017 changes which adversely affected its partnership with American Airlines, the airline was quick to first assure its customers and members of its Mileage Plan frequent flier loyalty program of what was not changing effective as of Monday, January 1, 2018 — but much of what was not affected back then was supposed to be adversely affected or eliminated by the changes which were announced on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 pertaining to the disintegrating partnership between American Airlines and Alaska Airlines…

…and changes — such as no longer being able to earn Mileage Plan miles on international flights which are marketed and operated by American Airlines and no longer being able to redeem Mileage Plan miles for award travel on domestic flights or international flights which are operated by American Airlines — were supposed to be effective as of today, Sunday, March 1, 2020.

Forget about all of that.

Strengthened Partnership Between Alaska Airlines and American Airlines

Admirals Club Lounge Atlanta

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Members of both the American Airlines AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flier loyalty programs will enjoy reciprocal benefits across both airlines — including the ability to earn and use miles on the full networks of both airlines, enjoy elite level status reciprocity, and access to almost 60 airport lounges worldwide.

Both airlines will continue their domestic codeshare relationship — instead of the original intention of diminishing it, which was scheduled to be effective as of this month — which offers customers hassle-free booking and travel between the two networks. The codeshare arrangement will expand to include international routes along the west coast of the United States from Los Angeles and Seattle in order to provide broader international access and choice for customers via a seamless experience between the two airlines.

Alaska Airlines will expand its global reach via a strengthened partnership with American Airlines, according to this official press release from Alaska Airlines — specifically as an international alliance along the west coast of the United States. You can currently redeem Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles on all flights which are operated by American Airlines — subject to award availability — and you can currently earn and redeem Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles with its current portfolio of 16 global partners.

Additionally, members of Alaska Lounge currently have access to the almost 50 locations of Admirals Club lounges worldwide when traveling on the same day — except for the Admirals Club in Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport due to space constraints. Alaska Airlines will be opening a new 8,500-square-foot, top-floor lounge in Terminal 2 this fall. Boarding pass and guest restrictions apply.

Admirals Club Lounge Atlanta

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Meanwhile, members of Admirals Club of American Airlines currently have access to seven Alaska Lounges in the United States when traveling on the same day.

Sometime during the spring of 2020, you will be able to earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles on all domestic flights and international flights which are marketed and operated by American Airlines.

During the summer of 2021, the following benefits are expected to be in effect:

  • Earn and redeem Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles on all oneworld airlines — subject to award availability.
  • Members who have earned elite level status will enjoy elite privileges — including priority boarding, premium seating, baggage benefits, and more when flying as a passenger on airplanes which are marketed and operated by American Airlines or any oneworld airline.
  • Members who have earned MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75k elite level status can access 650 lounges within the oneworld airline network.

Earning Mileage Plan Miles on Flights Operated by American Airlines

American Airlines

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Here is the earnings table of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles for international flights which are marketed and operated by American Airlines.

 
Cabin Class of Service Base Mileage Plan Miles Earned Class of Service Bonus
First Class F 100 percent 100 percent
First Class A 100 percent 50 percent
First Class X — upgrade Earning is based on original booking class
Business J 100 percent 100 percent
Business D, I, R 100 percent 50 percent
Business C — upgrade Earning is based on original booking class
Premium Economy W 100 percent 10 percent
Premium Economy P 100 percent
Economy — Main Cabin H, K, L, M, Y 100 percent
Economy — Main Cabin G, V 75 percent
Economy — Main Cabin N, S 50 percent
Economy — Main Cabin O, Q 25 percent

Intention of Alaska Airlines to Join the oneworld Alliance Welcomed

Royal Air Maroc

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

In addition to its announced strengthened partnership with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines intends to join the oneworld alliance by the summer of 2021, according to this official press release. Once approved, oneworld membership will allow members of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flier loyalty program to earn and redeem miles through the extensive global network of the 13 member airlines of the oneworld alliance — as well as 30 of their affiliates — on a combined fleet of 3,500 aircraft to and from 1,100 airports in 180 countries and territories with 14,000 departures daily.

The oneworld alliance will enable members of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flier loyalty program to enjoy reciprocal benefits on other member airlines — such as priority check-in and boarding, access to preferred seats, and free checked bags.

Royal Air Maroc is currently the latest airline to join the oneworld alliance, which is expected to occur on Wednesday, April 1, 2020; while Royal Air Maroc Express — which is its regional subsidiary — will simultaneously join as a oneworld affiliate member. Royal Air Maroc will be the first full member of the oneworld alliance in the continent of Africa.

American Airlines to Create an International Gateway in Seattle

Seattle Tacoma International Airport Alaska United

Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

American Airlines will launch nonstop daily service between Seattle and Bangalore in India during October of 2020 — tickets may now be purchased for this flight route — and that will be the first direct nonstop service launched between the two cities.

Additionally, the airline will also launch daily nonstop service between Seattle and London-Heathrow Airport sometime in March of 2021. Tickets will be available for this flight route in May of 2020.

“Beginning West Coast international service from Seattle will complement American’s strong existing international network from LAX,” according to this official press release which was released on Thursday, February 13, 2020 and quotes Vasu Raja, who is the senior vice president of network strategy at American Airlines. “India is a grossly underserved market, despite the number of businesses with a major presence in both India and the West Coast. By adding Seattle to Bangalore, we’re giving customers from more than 70 U.S. cities access to India in one stop or less — versus the two, three or four stops they’d have to make to get there in the past.”

For additional information, you can watch this video which is embedded in this official press release — which is also below — in which Vasu Raja explains “why Alaska has a really, really great network fit with” American Airlines.

More Information About Alaska Airlines and American Airlines

Alaska Airlines and its regional partners fly 47 million customers per year to greater than 116 destinations with an average of 1,300 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. With Alaska Airlines and Alaska Global Partners, customers may earn and redeem miles for flights to greater than 800 destinations worldwide. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group.

American Airlines offers customers 6,800 daily flights to greater than 365 destinations in 61 countries from its hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington. Globally, 130,000 team members serve greater than 200 million customers annually.

Summary

Delta Air Lines airplanes on runway and tarmac in Seattle

What does the new international gateway of American Airlines at SeaTac International Airport mean to Delta Air Lines, which operates a hub there? Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

Andrew Harrison — who is the executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Alaska Airlines — is quoted in this official press release from American Airlines as saying that “…this West Coast international alliance enables Alaska’s continued independent growth.” Will Alaska Airlines remain “independent” and continue operating the way it does today?

Unlike other writers, I am not about to embark on speculation on what all of this means, as I really do not believe that is all that important at the moment — such as why both airlines suddenly decided to reverse the direction of their partnership; how this will affect the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flier loyalty program once the airline joins the oneworld alliance; or if Delta Air Lines should be concerned about American Airlines creating fiercer competition at its Seattle hub. At least one person actually asked what will happen to his or her Mileage Plan miles once plans are approved and implemented.

The implementation of the expanded relationship and other arrangements described in this article is subject to the negotiation and execution of definitive documentation and governmental review — which means this arrangement is not yet a done deal and has a chance of not being approved…

…although the possibility of that happening is highly unlikely.

Although customers may likely benefit overall from this new partnership, they also could possibly have fewer choices as well on affected routes, which could mean more expensive airfares…

…but as with newly-formed alliances between airlines — such as the partnership between Delta Air Lines and LATAM as one example — only time will tell, as you will never hear from the marketing departments of airlines as to how customers will be adversely affected by the new partnerships.

Whether the new alliances actually mean “more choice for travelers” — through such items as codesharing of flights, benefits for frequent fliers, and opening the world to customers of Alaska Airlines — remains to be seen…

All photographs ©2013, ©2018, and ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Alaska Airlines Plans to Join oneworld Alliance in the Summer of 2021; Expands Partnership With American Airlines”

  1. Robert Z says:

    Dude you’re ONLY a week late posting this.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …so what is the rush, Robert Z?

      It is not as though this news is obsolete; and I did not want to post it simultaneously with dozens of other bloggers.

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