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Alaska Airlines has just announced an expanded partnership with American Airlines, eventually leading to oneworld alliance membership. Alaska has partnered with American Airlines in a limited capacity for many years. In fact, they limited their partnership in order to secure approval for the Virgin America purchase.

a timeline of flight time

Changes for Alaska Flyers

Right now, not a whole lot has changed. You can redeem Alaska miles on all American Airlines flights soon, and folks with Alaska lounge access will get reciprocal access to Admirals Clubs. (But check the fine print!  This doesn’t include the Admirals Club in SFO. Alaska plans to open its new SFO lounge later this year.)

An Alaska Airlines plane in flight

Image source: Alaska Airlines.

Oneworld membership will offer many more options for the airline. Alaska flyers will have easier access to codeshare flights once membership is finalized in 2021. You’ll be able to earn and redeem Mileage Plan miles on member airlines and routes. Historically, Alaska hasn’t operated many international flights, but has developed some effective partnerships over the years. They’re all over the map – IcelandAir, Hainan Airlines, Emirates, EL AL. Some of these partners will ultimately overlap with oneworld membership:

  • American Airlines
  • Fiji Airways
  • Qantas
  • British Airways
  • Japan Airlines

Expansion for American Airlines

American definitely benefits from the partnership as well. AA has set itd sites on Seattle-Tacoma for future international growth. Alaska Airlines is based in Seattle, but doesn’t boast many international flights, which are typically served by international carriers, and a few on Delta Air Lines. Later in 2020, American will launch nonstop service from SEA to Bangalore, India, and then nonstop service to London Heathrow in early 2021. This will be the first direct US flight to Bangalore, and currently the only AA flight to India since ending service to Delhi in 2012

Don’t worry, the sky isn’t falling (yet…)

What does this mean for… Partners?  Points?  Redemptions?  Well right now, it’s safe to say these will be the biggest changes:

  1. Alaska MVP and Gold 75k members will benefit from a larger and more robust network. West coast flyers no longer have to choose between good service (Alaska) and network (American, Delta, or United).
  2. Alaska Mileage Plan miles will have more options (but may be devalued).

What should you do?

Here’s what I’m thinking…  I’ll continue to earn Alaska miles for now, and I may even start crediting American Airlines flights to Alaska.  My goal is to redeem the Mileage Plan for Alaska partners before the oneworld membership is finalized. I could certainly leave some value on the table with this, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.  What if they, say, raise award rates on flights to Fiji??

Are you excited for this change, or nervous about it?

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