The original official press releases initially announced that Alaska Airlines would join the oneworld alliance as a member airline in the summer of 2021; but that timeline has been shortened to the end of 2020 instead.
Once Alaska Airlines becomes a full member airline of the oneworld alliance, 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.
In addition to its announced strengthened partnership with American Airlines, 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.
The joining of Alaska Airlines — which is based in Seattle and operates hub airports in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and Anchorage — will add 34 new destinations across North America to the oneworld network, which will grow to greater than 1,000 destinations in greater than 170 territories. Alaska Airlines and its regional partners serve greater than 115 destinations in North America.
Alaska Air Group maintains an operational fleet of 319 aircraft, which is comprised of the Airbus A320 family, Boeing 737, Embraer 175, and Bombardier Q400.
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.
Will Alaska Airlines remain “independent” and continue operating the way it does today — even after joining the oneworld alliance as a full member airline?
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 how this will affect the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flier loyalty program once the airline joins the oneworld alliance.
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…