Everything you need to know about Alaska’s partnership with Oneworld
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The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. On Wednesday31 March, Alaska Airlines officially joined the Oneworld alliance. This is a major change for the Seattle-based carrier, which historically had resisted joining a major airline alliance and instead preferred individual airline partnerships.
Alaska’s entrance into Oneworld means more ways to earn and redeem miles, reciprocal elite benefits — including access to the alliance’s more than 650 lounges globally for those who are eligible — and more.
While we knew this day was coming for a while, some details have remained scant. Below, we’ve answered the most common questions you might have. Although Alaska is officially a part of the alliance now, not all benefits are live yet.
When can I credit Oneworld flights to Alaska Mileage Plan?
You can now accrue Alaska Mileage Plan miles on all Oneworld airlines. Just note that earning rates vary by airline and fare class. Also, not all fares necessarily earn miles. For instance, American Airlines basic economy (B) fares don’t earn Alaska miles.
Keep in mind that there were also some changes to how you earn miles when flying on Alaska. The biggest change is that full-fare economy and first-class tickets now earn more miles, while some other fares now earn slightly less. At a minimum, you’ll always earn 100% of the base miles flown.
When can I credit Alaska flights to Oneworld partner programmes?
Likewise, you can now credit Alaska flights to Oneworld partners. Again, earning rates vary by the programme you’re crediting to and fare class. For instance, Alaska’s basic economy (X) may not always earn miles.
Will Alaska eventually shift to a revenue-based model for accruing miles?
As of now, there’s no plan for Alaska to shift to a revenue-based model for accruing miles. TPG previously asked Alaska about this and we were told there are “no changes to our award value proposition.”
Alaska Mileage Plan is the last holdout among major full-service U.S. carriers for awarding miles based on distance (rather than ticket price). While the programme did launch a survey about revenue-based mileage accrual in 2014, it then reiterated that it wouldn’t go revenue-based a couple of years later. Hopefully, this will remain intact as the carrier expands the number of ways that members can earn miles, especially on domestic flights.
When will Alaska members be able to redeem Mileage Plan miles across all of Oneworld?
For the time being, there are no changes to how you can redeem your Alaska miles. Redemptions on all Oneworld airlines won’t go live until this summer. That said, Alaska already offers redemptions with multiple Oneworld alliance carriers:
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
Alaska also partners with Fiji Airways (a Oneworld connect airline). In other words, Alaska already has integrations with nearly half of the 13 Oneworld members, so you can utilize these existing relationships to book some award flights now.
Will Alaska shift to a more standardised, region-based award chart for all partners, or will it maintain separate award charts for each partner?
Right now, your ability to use Alaska miles on partner airlines isn’t all-encompassing, nor is it consistent from carrier to carrier. Instead, you’ll see individual award rates for a given partner airline when you select your departure and arrival region on this page. In some cases, there’s no chart at all, which means that you can’t book an award on that partner, even if it operates a flight. For example, Emirates flies to dozens of destinations from its hub in Dubai (DXB), but the only countries available using Alaska miles are Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Alaska told TPG that it would announce award pricing for new Oneworld partners as redemptions become available. The airline also told us it would strive to give at least 90 days’ notice if changes are coming to any current partner awards. As such, we shouldn’t expect any major devaluations for the time being.
Will Alaska stop restricting awards to a single partner airline?
Under Alaska’s current award routing rules, you’re limited to a single partner airline when redeeming miles — though you can include connecting Alaska flights within the U.S. As a result, you couldn’t fly Japan Airlines to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and then connect to a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong (HKG). You’d need to fly a single partner airline all the way there or connect to a single partner via Alaska Airlines. At this point, it’s unclear whether this will change when Oneworld redemptions become fully available.
Will there be any changes to Alaska’s free stopover policy on award tickets?
Another terrific aspect of redeeming miles with Alaska is that you can add a free stopover to your award tickets, even on one-way flights. This is a great way to maximise your rewards further, and savvy travellers are certainly curious about whether this will be changing.
Right now, it’s business as usual, so you can still utilise this policy when redeeming Alaska miles. The airline has told TPG that there are “no planned changes to the award value proposition” at this time, so hopefully, this benefit will remain.
When will we see elite travellers start to enjoy reciprocal perks?
Effective immediately, Mileage Plan elites have Oneworld status. The status tiers break down as follows:
- MVP = Oneworld Ruby
- MVP Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- MVP Gold 75K = Oneworld Emerald
What do these reciprocal perks look like?
In addition to the usual perks when flying Alaska, elites now enjoy a subset of benefits when flying on one of the other 13 member airlines. Here’s how the benefits break down:
|oneworld Priority||MVP / oneworld Ruby||MVP Gold / oneworld Sapphire||MVP Gold 75K /
|Earn and redeem miles on all Oneworld flights||✔||✔||✔|
|Earn elite points on all eligible Oneworld flights||✔||✔||✔|
|Access to Priority check-in||✔||✔||✔|
|Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating||✔||✔||✔|
|Priority on waitlists and when on standby||✔||✔||✔|
|Access to Business Class check-in||–||✔||✔|
|Access to Business Class lounges||–||✔||✔|
|Extra baggage allowance||–||✔||✔|
|Priority baggage handling||–||✔||✔|
|Access to First Class check-in||–||–||✔|
|Access to First Class lounges||–||–||✔|
|Fast track at security lanes||–||–||✔|
In addition to the standard Oneworld benefits, Alaska and American Airlines have already unveiled an even deeper integration of their elite status perks. Later in 2021, Alaska’s top-tier MVP Gold 75K members will become eligible for free domestic upgrades on American Airlines and even get access to international long-haul upgrades on AA – though specific details have not yet been revealed. Additionally, MVP Gold 75K and mid-tier Gold members will enjoy complimentary extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra seats for free at booking.
What lounges do elites have access to?
As stated above, MVP Gold members now have access to Oneworld business class lounges, while MVP Gold 75K have access to first class lounges. Typically, this is applicable when flying any Oneworld airline in any class of service. However, as is the case for American Airlines AAdvantage elites, there’s a big caveat.
Alaska elites don’t get lounge benefits when travelling solely on North American flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean. The one exception is for three-cabin premium transcontinental flights operated by American Airlines. In other words, in the U.S., Alaska elites are usually only guaranteed lounge access when flying on long-haul international routes. Fortunately, many Alaska lounges participate in the Priority Pass programme.
What airlines are in the Oneworld alliance?
There 14 airlines in the Oneworld alliance, including Alaska. Here are the other members:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
There’s also Fiji Airways, which is a partial Oneworld “Connect” member, and recognises some elite benefits, though isn’t a full-fledged Oneworld airline.
What will happen to Alaska’s non-Oneworld partners?
One of the major reasons we value Alaska miles so highly here at TPG is the wide variety of partners across all major alliances. So what will happen to these partner airlines that aren’t full members of Oneworld? When asked, we were given the following statement from Alaska:
“Our current Global Partner portfolio remains unchanged.”
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be changes down the road. But, for now, it’s status quo.
Alaska Airlines is officially a part of the Oneworld alliance. While you can now earn Alaska miles across all Oneworld flights, redemptions won’t become available for another few months. Alaska elites now get a slew of new perks when flying on Oneworld partners. However, there are some restrictions to be aware of, specifically pertaining to lounge access on domestic itineraries.
Additional reporting by Nick Ewen.
Featured image by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy
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