Finnair, the Helsinki-based oneworld airline, joins American, British Airways and Iberia in their joint business venture across the Atlantic tomorrow.
Finnair also intends to join the Japan Airlines-British Airways joint venture between Japan and Europe.
This is a business play for the airlines involved, and while companies will talk about better coordination of schedules and seamless transfers (and it is the case that they tend to be better at interlining during irregular operations as a result) this really isn’t something that affects customers in a way that most will pay attention to or care about.
When American, Iberia, and British Airways formed their joint venture, it became possible to use miles from any of those airlines to upgrade on any of the other carriers. Of course space had to be available, and there were specific requirements about fare classes and even how the tickets were issued. But it introduced new upgrade options.
The introduction of Finnair into the joint venture does not carry with it an expansion of mileage upgrades. American AAdvantage members will not be able to use their miles to upgrade on Finnair, nd Finnair members won’t be able to use miles to upgrade on American, at least in the immediate term.
Which means that the joint venture expansion is — to the average frequent flyer customer — mostly a non-event. Although it will seem like a big deal to aviation geeks and alliance watchers who see an increasing importance for close business relationships in a bilateral or multilateral setting rather than merely through the traditional alliance organizations.