My gosh… I never thought this day would come… but it finally has. Alaska Airlines shocked the frequent flyer community a few days ago when they announced their intention to (finally) join the oneworld alliance in Summer of 2021. Furthermore, Alaska is teaming up with American Airlines to create an International West Coast Alliance; the two airlines were set to basically divorce at the end of the month… and that’s no longer happening! Basically, I think AS and AA came to their senses and decided they would rather work together against Delta Air Lines than be enemies.
Alaska’s strong presence throughout the West Coast means that some smaller cities are only served by them and considering how many people love Alaska (especially those in Seattle and Portland), the airline has a large loyalty following. Alaska has been rumoured to join oneworld for years and years now, especially because they have selected so many oneworld airlines to partner with over the years, including Cathay Pacific and British Airways, to name a few. oneworld always seemed like a natural fit for Alaska.. and now that’s finally happening.
Teaming up with American Airlines, Alaska will provide domestic flights to American’s international gateway hub in Los Angeles and American’s new semi-hub in Seattle (AA will launch flights to Bangalore and London from Seattle). The two airlines will codeshare on a bunch of routes and provide reciprocal frequent flyer elite benefits. Once Alaska joins oneworld fully, MVPs will receive oneworld status – Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald, which means priority check-in, boarding, lounge access, extra baggage allowance, etc. throughout all oneworld airlines worldwide.
Alaska’s news was received as either a positive or negative – a positive because of all of the benefits that will come from the airline finally being in an alliance and a negative because Mileage Plan is surely to be somewhat changed as it is way too generous currently. Once Alaska has access to earning and redeeming on all oneworld airlines, many will seek to make it their new loyalty program – there’s no way some amazing redemption rates will stay the same way they are now. While Alaska remains more or less committed to a traditional frequent flyer program – a mile flown is a mile earned (not revenue-based), you can be sure to expect some changes to Mileage Plan – such as an award chart devaluation and perhaps increased elite status qualification requirements.
Alaska Airlines joining oneworld is huge news and something that many flyers have been looking forward to for ages and it is finally coming true. I think overall this is good news as there will be more positives than negatives coming from the fact that the airline will belong to one of the three big alliances. I can’t wait to finally have oneworld Emerald as an MVP Gold 75k member… Cathay First Class Lounges, anyone?