Alaska just joined the Oneworld alliance alongside American Airlines, British Airways, and 11 other carriers - here's why that's great for flyers
- Aiaska Airlines is the newest member of the Oneworld airline alliance, formally joining in March.
- Flyers will notice better connecting options and increased cooperation between member airlines.
- Frequent Alaska flyers benefit the most with elite status carrying over to 13 other carriers.
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Alaska Airlines in March became the 14th and newest member of the Oneworld airline alliance, joining the likes of American Airlines, Qatar Airways, British Airways in the global partnership.
Airline alliances are built on the premise that not a group of carriers can better connect the world than just one can. Each of America's three largest international airlines belongs to an airline alliance but the Oneworld alliance is now the only one to include two American carriers: American and Alaska.
By partnering, alliances can also offer flyers greater conveniences when flying on member carriers like complementary route networks and single-ticket itineraries across multiple airlines. Elite status holders can also benefit by having greater access to upgrades and airport amenities like priority check-in.
Here's how Alaska flyers can benefit when flying on the new Oneworld partner airlines and how Oneworld flyers can benefit when flying Alaska.
Earning miles on more airlines
Members of Alaska's Mileage Plan program can now earn miles when flying on any one of Oneworld's 14 member airlines. Besides Alaska, that list includes American, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Japan Airlines, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines, S7 Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines.
And the same goes when loyalists of other Oneworld airlines fly on Alaska as they can earn miles for their preferred airline's program. The offering gives flyers greater flexibility to fly different airlines, especially if one has a better schedule or doesn't serve a desired route, while still earning miles that can lead to free flights or elite status.
Smoother connecting journeys on Oneworld airlines
Alaska flyers wanting to travel outside of Alaska's route network can do so easier now that the airline has 13 partners around the world. Oneworld airlines will be tasked with bringing Alaska's flyers where the Seattle-based airline cannot.
Flying to Europe? British Airways, Finnair, and Iberia can help with that. Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean? American Airlines will be helpful there. Africa and the Middle East? Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, and Royal Air Maroc have a strong network there. Asia? Cathay Pacific Airways and SirLankan Airlines are good bets. Russia? S7 Airlines can help with internal flights.
A flyer wanting to go from Portland, Oregon to Doha, Qatar can book a single-ticket itinerary through Alaska that includes flights on Alaska and Qatar Airways. Amman, Jordan is an easy Alaska flight to New York to meet the non-stop Royal Jordanian flight.
Single-ticket itineraries also mean baggage is automatically brought to the next flight, even if on a different airline, and fees are only paid once.
More upgrades for frequent flyers
Alaska flyers with MVP 75K status only are eligible for complimentary upgrades on American when flying domestically or between the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Later this year, those status holders will also be given certificates to upgrade on American's international flights.
All Alaska elite status holders, regardless of rank, will be allowed to select American's "Main Cabin Extra" seats, if available, for no extra charge. MVP status holders can do so 24 hours in advance while higher ranks can do so at booking.
American flyers with Executive Platinum status only are eligible for complimentary upgrades on Alaska and will be automatically placed on the upgrade list. The only exception is when Executive Platinum holders book "saver" fares on Alaska, the equivalent of basic economy.
All Alaska elite status holders, regardless of rank, will be allowed to select Alaska's "premium cabin" seats, if available, for no extra charge. Gold status holders with certain ticket types can choose the seats 48 hours from departure while higher ranks can do so sooner.
Upgrades on either airline are not guaranteed but are a huge incentive to keep booking higher-priced fares on each airline.
More perks on the ground
Becoming an elite status holder on Alaska also makes you an elite status holder in Oneworld, and that means more perks when traveling across the alliance's network even if not on Alaska.
An Alaska MVP status holder is automatically given Oneworld Ruby status which includes access to business class check-in lines, preferred and pre-reserved seating, and priority on waitlists and standby lists. MVP Gold status holders on Alaska are Oneworld Sapphire, meaning they get all the Ruby perks and more including access to business class lounges, priority boarding, extra baggage allowance, and priority baggage handling.
An Alaska MVP 75K status holder is given Oneworld Emerald status, which includes Ruby and Sapphire perks plus access to first class lounges, first class check-in lanes, and priority security lanes.
Alaska's airline lounges are also available for certain Oneworld elites to use, including the new flagship Alaska Lounge in Seattle featuring a self-serve pancake maker.