Alaska Airlines Will Start Awarding Elite Qualifying Miles for Flights on All International Partners Starting January 15

Here’s the scoop:

Starting Jan. 15, 2014, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will be able to earn elite qualifying miles on all 12 of the carrier’s international partners, including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, Korean Air and Qantas. Mileage Plan members already earn elite qualifying miles on AeroMexico, Air France, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, KLM and LAN.

Alaska has really been stepping up. A year ago I had them on a watch list to devalue their program in a big way, and of course they still could, but the huge competitive pressure that erstwhile partner Delta is putting on them by building up a significant Seattle presence seems to put off the possibility at least and light a fire under their competitive offerings.

Not only has Alaska added Emirates as a partner, they’ve introduced true one way awards with stopover on most partners and put most partner award booking online. There have been a few givebacks along the way, like an inability to book partner awards farther out than Alaska’s own schedule (so no more booking Qantas awards 355 days ahead) but all in all the program has improved, the limited ‘devaluations’ have been very modest changes to the price of award travel on their own flights. And they’ve been full of promotions to goose flying in competition with Delta’s new flights.

The ability to credit miles flown on a variety of airlines that are a part of both Skyteam and oneworld alliances (in addition to redeeming on those airlines, and in addition to crediting American and Delta flights) is a real benefit — not just for Alaska Airlines flyers who can earn status more quickly but for United and other Star Alliance flyers who must occasionally take a flight on an airline in another alliance. Crediting miles from so many airlines into a single Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account means building up a critical mass of points for award travel more quickly than would otherwise be possible… and fewer orphaned miles.

(HT: dgreene12 on Milepoint)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Even though Delta is included in the list or earning partners…I think this is the final nail in the Alaska/Delta partnership.

    Frankly I think Alaska is well positioned. An almost cult like following and good international partners with a good frequent flyer program.

    Delta is coming to Seattle because they want it to be their Asian hub. Delta may capture enough Seattle customers and route in enough of their own feed to make the international flights work. Perhaps they will achieve some type of profitable equilibrium between the two carriers in Seattle but I suspect that is a ways off.

    I think the consumer in Seattle wins as I think these two are going to split up and go their own way.

  2. DL needs more feeder flights into SEA via AS if it wants to truly succeed in creating SEA as its Asian hub. Or it needs to build its own feeder flights and stop using AS.

    And right now they don’t have ’em.

    It will be interesting if some of the international carriers that AS partners with start service out of SEA to take advantage of the AS Mileage Plan expansion.

  3. Tks Chris
    I guess this bit below threw me off, I was hoping (don’t know why…) for a double dipping sort of opportunity…

    The ability to credit miles flown on a variety of airlines that are a part of both Skyteam and oneworld alliances (in addition to redeeming on those airlines, and in addition to crediting American and Delta flights)

  4. As you note, this is huge for those of us who mostly fly *A but must take the occasional flight on other carriers. For some time I have been conflicted as to where I should credit my BA and Qantas flights (usually to AA). AS is the really best choice, as I may now be able to earn MVP status because I normally have some AS EQN as well.

    On the minus side, it is difficult to find peak season AS saver awards to Mexico and Hawaii (though that’s true for others too)

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