Alaska Airlines and American Airlines yesterday announced (read more here) their West Coast-partnership that would see the Seattle based airline joining the Oneworld Alliance by the Summer of 2021.

Not sure if this came as a surprise to Oneworld Alliance itself as they didn’t have a press release to go out when the announcement was made by the two airlines.

Elite Status Levels

MVP (Oneworld Ruby)

– 20,000 EQMs on Alaska or 25,000 on Alaska and elite-qualifying partners or 30 segments

MVP Gold (Oneworld Sapphire)

– 40,000 EQMs on Alaska or 50,000 on Alaska and elite-qualifying partners or 60 segments

MPV Gold 75K (Oneworld Emerald)

– 75,000 EQMs on Alaska or 90,000 on Alaska and elite-qualifying partners or 90 segments

The status levels are well aligned with Oneworld.

MVP’s get 50%, MVP Gold’s 100%, and MVP Gold 75K’s 125% bonus on redeemable miles. MVP 75K’s also get bonus of 50,000 redeemable miles upon qualification.

Airline Partnerships

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Fiji Airways (Oneworld Connect)
  • Finnair
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM (leaves Oneworld)
  • Qantas

Non-aligned

  • Aer Lingis (owned by IAG parent of BA among others)
  • Condor
  • El Al
  • Emirates
  • Hainan
  • Icelandair
  • Pen Air
  • Ravn

Alaska Airlines has for long had partnerships with number of airlines that belong to all of the three alliances and also with unaligned ones.

Alaska already have frequent flier agreement in place with seven of the thirteen current Oneworld members.

Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance) and Korea Air (SkyTeam) are the two only airlines that currently are partners that belong to competing alliances.

There are several non-aligned airlines such as Emirates, Hainan, El Al, and Icelandair that work with Alaska but are not part of any alliances.

Miles Earnings

Here’s where thing can get “hairy” when you compare what you earn as Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members compared to the new West Coast partner of American Airlines

Cathay Pacific

AAdvantage

Mileage Plan

Mileage Plan members earn significantly more miles for Cathay Pacific business and first-class flights compared to if you credit them to AAdvantage. Mileage Plan and AAdvantage members also receive their elite bonus on top of these.

Using Miles

Alaska publishes quite convoluted award charts that are partner airline-specific, and there are sometimes considerable differences in the number of miles required in between partners.

Alaska should have one award chart for all Oneworld flights between various regions. It would be ideal if other partners would be included as well. Mixing and matching of partners must come into the equation, too, at least within the alliance.

Conclusion

Partnership with Delta soured when Atlanta based airline started to expand in the Pacific Northwest and when Alaska took over Virgin America. The partnership with Air France – KLM and Aeromexico soon ended too (Delta’s partners). These all were part of SkyTeam.

It used to be rare that an alliance airline would have partners belonging to other alliances, but this is common nowadays. Qantas has a partnership with Emirates, Cathay Pacific works with Air New Zealand, Finnair and Air China codeshare flights and there are numerous other examples.

We should learn in about six months any possible Mileage Plan changes for 2021, during which the airline should join Oneworld.

Perhaps we lose some of the bonus miles offered, and award charts could become less appealing but with the ability to use number of partners.

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