Alaska Airlines has formally signed its agreement to join oneworld, and expects to become an alliance member by end of year. While they’ve been talking about joining for two years the plan to do so was only announced in February meaning they’ll be delivering on the promise in under a year rather than the standard expection of 18 months. Already American and Alaska have rolled out reciprocal mileage and elite status earning.
American Airlines had gutted its partnership with Alaska, here’s their internal reasoning for turning around on the idea which was a prerequisite to Alaska’s joining.
Cranky Flier spoke with oneworld’s CEO who shared that alliance upgrades – using miles from one oneworld member airline to upgrade on another – will roll out around the time that Alaska joins the alliance.
I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if ‘alliance upgrades’ worked similarly to upgrades between American, British Airways, and Iberia requiring purchase of full fare tickets to be eligible.
Alliance membership will also mean that Alaska Airlines members will be able to get boarding passes for their full trip using the airline’s mobile app including on other alliance carriers, something which isn’t generally possible for other members of the alliance today but sounds like it’s in the pipeline (I find such IT projects never happen when promised).
Overall though I expect a devaluation of Alaska’s Mileage Plan program as part of the joining. And one oneworld lounge access benefit is certain to be devalued as a result of Alaska’s membership as well.
Still, subject to these devaluations, most customers who have Platinum status or less on American should probably credit to Alaska. That’s because:
- Alaska miles go farther, under their current award chart
- Alaska status will still be recognized on American
- Alaska status is easier to earn, with no minimum spend requirement
Net net joining oneworld should be good for Alaska, it remains to be seen whether it’ll be good for Mileage Plan members.