OneWorld: Alaska Airlines fast-tracked into the alliance
Back in February, there was news that Alaska Airlines were going to join the OneWorld alliance. That process usually takes a year or so and was expected to occur in northern hemisphere ‘Summer 2021.
Not this time, it seems COVID-19 has accelerated the process. Presumably, there is a lot of alliance staff with not much else to do, except work on the process?
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The CEO of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, Brad Tilden is expecting to receive a formal invitation to join the alliance in July 2020, with the hoping of fast-tracking all the paper work and approvals for completion before the end of the year.
This expediting of the process is made easier since Alaskan already has partnership agreements with about half of the 13 OneWorld airlines including:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
The only slight weirdness this will produce is having two OneWorld members based within the same continent, and indeed the same country, that is American Airlines and Alaska Airlines both based in the USA. But that’s already being solved with a code-share arrangement forming a kind of ‘West Coast Alliance’ as Aviation Week sets out.
Alaskan Airlines, OneWorld and Qantas
Qantas members who hold Emerald and Sapphire status, basically Gold members and above, will get access to Alaska Airlines lounges through their tier status, as well as increased baggage and priority check-in, not to mention priority boarding. The benefits will be reciprocal with Alaskan frequent flyers also having access to Qantas facilities and tier privileges.
The Alaska Airlines frequent flyer scheme is Mileage Plan with four status tiers. Below are the tiers and their expected matches with OneWorld and Qantas:
- MVP = Ruby = Silver
- MVP Gold = Sapphire = Gold
- MVP 75K = Emerald = Platinum
Potential changes to Mileage Plan
Don’t be surprised if Alaska uses this opportunity to overhaul its Mileage Plan scheme and align it closer to the OneWorld family. That awkward ’75K’ might turn into ‘Platinum’ or even ‘Diamond’.
There will be a few other issues to resolve including:
- Alaska has a number of non-OneWorld partners – will they remain
- Points redemptions across multiple airlines on the same award ticket
- Maintenance of generous policy allowing stopovers on one-way awards
- Simplifying the award charts with OneWorld airlines. Currently, Alaska has separate award charts for each partner. If they do simplify, let’s hope it advantages redemptions
Current advantages of Mileage Plan
The current advantages of the program include:
- Being able to earn and redeem miles across a wide variety of international airline partners
- No fees on cancellation or changes to award tickets more than 60 days before departure
Let’s hope they get retained in any Mileage Plan revamp.
Milage Plan is regarded as one of the most customer benefiting frequent flyer schemes out there by many avgeeks. Lets hope that any revamping of the Milage Plan scheme continues those benefits instead of watering them down.