Alaska Airlines has become the newest member of the Oneworld alliance, after joining on 31 March 2021.
Alaska Airlines is now the second Oneworld member in the USA, after American Airlines, and joins the other 13 member airlines including Qantas, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Royal Air Maroc, which joined a year ago.
Based in Seattle the United States, Alaska Airlines (IATA code: AS) mainly operates short-haul flights on US domestic routes, as well as to Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. It has a particularly strong presence on the US west coast, as well as Hawaii and (obviously) Alaska. It operates exclusively narrow-body aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. Alaska’s regional subsidiary Horizon Air, which is now a Oneworld affiliate airline, operates Embraer E175s and Dash 8 Q400s.
“We’re delighted to welcome Alaska to the oneworld family,” Qantas CEO and Oneworld Governing Board Chairman Alan Joyce said.
“As the industry recovers from COVID, airline alliances are going to be more important than ever. Alaska will be an asset to the alliance, positioning oneworld to deliver even more value to our customers and member airlines.”
What does this mean for Qantas Frequent Flyer members?
Alaska Airlines was already a Qantas Frequent Flyer partner, meaning you could already earn or redeem Qantas points with Alaska Airlines. Qantas flyers also already had access to limited reciprocal status benefits, such as lounge access in Los Angeles when flying with Alaska – but only on a “QF” codeshare flight connecting to or from Australia.
Now, Qantas Frequent Flyer members can also earn status credits on all Alaska Airlines flights – as long as you book in an eligible fare class.
Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum & Platinum One members – and anyone else with equivalent Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald status – will also now receive reciprocal status benefits on all Alaska Airlines flights. This means Qantas Gold members (and above) will have access to the Alaska Airlines lounges in Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Anchorage and New York (JFK) when flying with any Oneworld airline.
That’s in addition to access to lounges of other Oneworld airlines at other airports when travelling with Alaska Airlines. Other standard Oneworld benefits such as priority check-in and priority boarding also apply.
While you could previously redeem Qantas points to fly with Alaska Airlines, it was not previously possible to include these flights as part of a round-the-world Oneworld Classic Flight Reward trip booked using Qantas points.
The addition of Alaska Airlines to the Oneworld alliance opens up more flight options within the United States where American Airlines award availability is often hard to find, particularly between Alaska, Hawaii and mainland USA. For example, Alaska Airlines is the only Oneworld airline flying direct from Hawaii to Alaska.
Alaska Airlines fare class realignment
Alaska Airlines offers two cabin classes on most of its flights – “Coach/Main Cabin” and “First Class”. Alaska Airlines First Class is basically the Australian equivalent of Business Class.
Previously, Alaska Airlines First Class flights have been priced at “First” levels when redeeming Qantas points, meaning they are considerably more expensive than Business Class award seats. As this is effectively a Business Class product, however, the fare classes are now being changed so that Alaska Airlines First Class awards are rightfully priced at Business Class levels. (This brings Alaska in line with American Airlines award pricing on domestic 2-class flights.)
This does, however, also mean that Alaska Airlines First Class flights will only earn Qantas points and status credits at “Business” levels.
Qantas is yet to update its website to reflect these changes.
Extra reciprocal benefits for Alaska Mileage Plan & American AAdvantage members
In addition to the usual Oneworld benefits, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members and American Airlines AAdvantage members will now receive extra benefits when travelling on both airlines. This includes reciprocal elite upgrade benefits.
American Airlines sponsored Alaska Airlines into the Oneworld alliance. (On the same day that Alaska announced it would join Oneworld, American also announced it would launch new long-haul routes from Alaska’s Seattle hub to Bangalore and London – taking advantage of Alaskan connectivity.)
Redeeming Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles for Oneworld flights
The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program has already been popular with Australians for years because you can buy and redeem Alaska Airlines miles for reasonably-priced award travel on a host of useful airlines. This includes many Oneworld airlines such as Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and Oneworld Connect member Fiji Airways. But Alaska Airlines also partners with many non-Oneworld airlines like Korean Air, Emirates, Condor and Singapore Airlines.
In a few months, it will also be possible to redeem Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles on all Onewold airlines that didn’t previously partner with Alaska Airlines. But this functionality is not yet available.
So far, Alaska Airlines hasn’t made any changes to its award charts since announcing Oneworld membership. But it did recently stop allowing First Class redemptions on Emirates. Hopefully, the introduction of more award flight options across the Oneworld network does not result in any further changes to other existing airline partnerships or award pricing.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Alaska Airlines joining Oneworld