Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance today. You still can’t use Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles for travel on oneworld carriers that weren’t already the airline’s partners before this move. But the big news of the day, I think, is the announcement that:
- American Airlines elites will have access to extra legroom coach seats and first class upgrades when flying Alaska
- Alaska Airlines elites will have access to extra legroom coach seats and first class upgrades when flying American
American and Alaska are closer partners than merely being members of the same global alliance. They are working together to build out West Coast travel with Alaska bringing domestic flyers to American international services and vice versa. There’s a good to tightly integrate so that customers feel their experience is more or less the same across carriers (it won’t actually be, because of differences in product and the general friendliness I’ve experienced from Alaska Airlines employees).
How American Airlines Elites Will Be Treated On Alaska
In addition to priority check-in, security and boarding and extra baggage allowances plus lounge access on international itineraries (in other words oneworld benefits), American Airlines elites will have access to Alaska’s extra legroom coach and first class upgrades.
Effective April 5, 2021, AAdvantage elites will be able to access extra legroom coach (“Premium Class”) on Alaska as follows:
- Executive Platinum and Concierge Key: at the time of booking
- Platinum Pro and Platinum: at time of booking if not buying the cheapest fares (so, if booked into Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fare buckets) or within 72 hours of travel on lower fare classes.
- Gold: at time of booking on full fare (Y, B, H) or within 48 hours of travel
Executive Platinum members who aren’t booked into basic economy (‘saver’) can be upgraded within 120 hours of departure. The benefit is initially only for the elite member but will eventually extent to a companion on the same reservation as well.
American’s Executive Platinums will come behind Alaska MVP Gold 75K elites on the upgrade list, and then prioritized based on fare class and time of request.
Alaska Airlines First Class
How Alaska Airlines Elites Will Be Treated On American
In addition to priority check-in, security and boarding and extra baggage allowances plus lounge access on international itineraries (in other words oneworld benefits), Alaska Airlines elites will have access to American’s extra legroom coach and first class upgrades.
Starting April 5, 2021, Alaska’s elite members access American Airlines extra legroom coach (‘Main Cabin Extra’):
- MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K: at the time of booking
- MVP: within 24 hours of travel
Alaska elites are the relative winners here with no restrictions on fare class.
In addition, while American’s 100,000 mile Executive Platinums are eligible for upgrades on Alaska, Alaska’s MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members can upgrade on American domestic and short haul international flights (Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America).
However these upgrades are on day of departure at check-in only. MVP Gold 75K members can upgrade a companion on the same reservation.
American Airlines Domestic First Class
More Benefits Are Coming
Alaska has revealed additional benefits in the pipeline, and we can assume more will be coming for AAdvantage elites as well.
MVP Gold 75K members will eventually clear upgrades 72 hours prior to departure, presumably American didn’t get the tech done in time for this to happen at launch. When this occurs they will come after American’s Platinum Pro (75k tier) on the waitlist, though it’s not clear how MVP Gold 75Ks will be prioritized against each other.
Presumably when Alaska introduces its 100,000 mile tier those elites will be behind Executive Platinums, but ahead of Platinum Pro members, based on this structure although of course that’s not guaranteed.
For the 2022 benefit year MVP Gold 75K members will receive an international upgrade certificate for American Airlines travel.