Now Alaska Airlines Plans to Join oneworld Alliance on March 31, 2021

First, the date was sometime during the summer of 2021.

Then, the date was moved up to by the end of 2020.

Now, the latest news is that Alaska Airlines will officially become a full member airline of the oneworld alliance on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, which is the first time in its history of 88 years that the carrier will be a member of a global airline alliance, according to this article from the official weblog of Alaska Airlines.

Now Alaska Airlines Plans to Join oneworld Alliance on March 31, 2021

Alaska Airlines

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

“There’s a huge amount of complicated work that’s being done behind-the-scenes at Alaska to meet our aggressive deadline”, according to the aforementioned article. “Changes are required to every one of our major systems so they can ‘talk’ to each oneworld member airline, and ensure we have a smooth and seamless guest experience.”

The membership of Alaska Airlines in the oneworld alliance will allow members of the 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 — to and from greater that 1,000 airports in greater than 170 countries and territories.

Once Alaska Airlines joins the oneworld alliance and officially becomes a full member airline, 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 — is expected to add 34 new destinations across North America to the oneworld network.

Prior to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, Alaska Air Group maintained an operational fleet of 319 aircraft, which was comprised of the Airbus A320 family, Boeing 737, Embraer 175, and Bombardier Q400. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group.

Royal Air Maroc

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Royal Air Maroc is currently the latest airline to join the oneworld alliance, which occurred 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 is the first full member airline of the oneworld alliance in the continent of Africa.

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.

Summary

Will Alaska Airlines remain “independent” and continue operating the way it does today — even after joining the oneworld alliance as a full member airline? Well, one of only a few clues to even remotely attempt to answer that question is the last paragraph from the aforementioned article:

Also, you might be wondering about our partnerships with our current Global Partners that are not a part of oneworld. We value the benefits those partnerships provide our guests, and we’ll continue to maintain them as long as it’s mutually beneficial to do so.

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. The date of joining the oneworld alliance has already changed for the second time, so even that is not worthy of speculation

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, ©2014, and ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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