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Alaska Airlines Announces Oneworld Membership with 2021 Entry Goal

Alaska Airlines Announces Oneworld Membership with 2021 Entry Goal
Joe Cortez

In what some may see as a surprise move, Alaska Airlines is joining forces with longtime partner American Airlines in the Oneworld alliance. While the airline plans to become a full member by Summer 2021, the current relationship allows some reciprocal benefits immediately.

In time for Valentine’s Day, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are getting back together through a marriage under a mutual alliance. The Seattle-based carrier is joining the Oneworld alliance, with a target full membership date of 2021.

Joining the “highly rated global airline network”

In 2019, the thought of Alaska and American coming together as partners again was nearly lost. Last October, both airlines announced significant changes to their frequent flyer program relationship. A previous announcement noted Alaska Mileage Plan miles would no longer be used for American Airlines flights by March 1, 2020.

But Oneworld membership drives a complete reversal of the previous plans. Under the proposed membership timeline, Alaska Mileage Plan members may continue to use their miles for American flights and earn award miles on American flights with an Alaska flight number.

Elite status on either carrier will be recognized by both, allowing for reciprocal benefits. Those who qualify for lounge access can visit either the 50 American Admirals Club locations or seven Alaska Lounges. And by spring 2020, flyers will be able to earn Mileage Plan miles on all American flights – regardless of flight number.

The airline wants to become a full Oneworld member by summer 2021, allowing for an 18-month transition period. When the carrier completes membership, Mileage Plan members can use their miles on both Oneworld alliance carriers and their global airline partners, while getting full elite status privileges when flying with an airline in the pact.

Better alignment with American’s global network

The move comes as American plans to introduce new flights to Alaska’s home hub at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). The Fort Worth-based airline will launch service from Seattle to Bangalore, India by Oct. 2020 and Seattle to London by spring 2021.

“This alliance opens the world for Alaska Airlines guests, whether traveling for business or pleasure,” Andrew Harrison, executive vice president, and chief commercial officer for Alaska, said in a press release. “And importantly for our employees and the communities we serve, this West Coast international alliance enables Alaska’s continued independent growth.”

The alliance also strengthens American’s position on the West Coast. After inheriting US Airways’ network focused on the east coast and only western hub in Phoenix, both carriers say the new association gives them “a West Coast international alliance,” powered by the reach of Oneworld. This could allow the carriers to challenge United Airlines hubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco for domestic passengers traveling to the Pacific Rim and South Asia.

 

 

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