After initially announcing the plan last year, today is the day Alaska Airlines is officially joining the Oneworld alliance. As discussed in our initial post back in February 2020, this includes a close west-coast alliance with Oneworld founding member American Airlines. This is huge news for flyers based in Alaska’s Seattle stronghold and for all Oneworld flyers and benefits are already showing up for Alaska elites on American Airlines flights.
What does it all mean? We’ve compiled some details of Alaska Airlines Oneworld membership and American Airlines partnership.
Alaska-American West Coast Alliance
After years of weakening their partnership, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are back together and stronger than ever before. Before the February 2020 announcement, American and Alaska were expected to shrink their codeshare partnership in March 2020. Instead, today they’re closer than ever before.
The new, close partnership between American and Alaska goes far beyond simply being members in Oneworld. The airlines are introducing reciprocal elite upgrades on flights going beyond the standard Emerald, Sapphire, and Ruby benefits through Oneworld.
Alaska Mileage Plan Elites Get Access to Main Cabin Extra Seating
For flights departing on or after April 5, 2021, Alaska Mileage Plan elites will have access to American Airlines Main Cabin Extra seats. MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75k members will be able to select seats at the time of booking. MVP members will be able to select the seats within 24 hours of travel.
The benefit has no fare exclusions. While Alaska Airlines noted that it “may take 1-2 days for the necessary updates to enable these new benefits,” Point Me To The Plane has confirmed that the benefits are now active for at least some Alaska Airlines elites looking up their booking on American airlines.
Alaska Mileage Plan Elites Upgrades on American Flights
Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K elites get even more benefits on top of that. MVP Gold 75K members are also eligible for first-class upgrades on American flights within the US (including Hawaii), and between the US and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Central America.
The upgrades are based on space available on the day of departure or after check-in. Up to one companion traveling with the MVP Gold 75K member on the same reservation can be upgraded as well.
AAdvantage Elites Get Access to Premium Class Seats
American Airlines elites will be able to access Premium Class seating with extra legroom on Alaska Airlines flights. The benefit varies based on your status with American.
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum elites can access Premium Class seats on all fares except Saver Fares (booked in “X” class) after ticket purchase
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro and Platinum elites can access Premium Class seats on Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fares immediately after ticket purchase and on all other fares except Saver Fares (booked in “X” class) 72 hours before departure
- AAdvantage Gold elites can access Premium Class seats on Y, B or H fares immediately after ticket purchase and on all other fares except Saver Fares (booked in “X” class) 48 hours before departure
If you’re an AAdvantage elite, be sure to check out American’s page on how to upgrade your booking to Premium Class.
AAdvantage Executive Platinum Upgrades on Alaska Flights
American Airlines Executive Platinum elites can also be upgraded to First Class on Alaska Airlines flights based on availability. The upgrades can be confirmed, as available, up to 120 hours before departure. Saver fares (booked in ‘X’) are not eligible for upgrades. Executive Platinum members will be prioritized after MVP Gold 75K members, first by fare class and then by the request date and time.
Alaska Airlines’ First Class features their most spacious and comfortable seats, plus quilted blankets on longer flights, a larger tablet for free entertainment and more. This is a benefit that is not available to other Oneworld alliance elites on Alaska.
Alaska Joining Oneworld Benefits
The reciprocal benefits between Alaska Airlines and American Airlines aren’t all that are starting today. With Alaska Airlines officially a full-fledged member of Oneworld today, a large array of benefits are being unlocked for elites across the alliance.
These benefits includes lounge access for Alaska Airlines’ top elites across the 13 other Oneworld alliance members. Oneworld Emeralds and Sapphire elites also now have access to Alaska Lounge locations.
Alaska elites can now also access elite benefits across the Oneworld alliance’s 1,000 destinations across more than 170 countries and territories. Oneworld members also have access to elite benefits on Alaska Airlines including:
- Priority check-in
- Priority security
- Priority boarding
- Additional baggage allowance
Full details (such as award redemption and miles earning on some carriers) are yet to be rolled out but many benefits are available right now.
Seattle Becomes Key Oneworld Hub
With this news, Seattle becomes a key hub for the Oneworld alliance and a key battleground between the Alaska Airlines/American Airlines duo and Delta. As part of their West Coast alliance, American Airlines is launching long-haul flights out of Seattle to London Heathrow (LHR), Bangalore (BLR), and Shanghai (PVG).
Oneworld member Qatar Airways also recently launched a new flight to Seattle from its mega-hub at Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha, Qatar. With Qatar Airways planning to quickly bounce back from the pandemic with service to over 140 global destinations, this will unlock a host of one-stop destinations for Seattle-based Oneworld flyers.
Other Oneworld members serving Seattle include Japan Airlines from its Tokyo-Narita (NRT) hub, Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong (HKG), and British Airways from London Heathrow (LHR). Notably, despite recently announcing major cutbacks in the US, Cathay Pacific is continuing flights to Seattle.
Could we soon see more Oneworld expansion to Seattle? Japan Airlines could upgauge its flight or move it to Tokyo Haneda (HND). Qantas could launch flights from Australia. European Oneworld carriers Finnair or Iberia could launch flights to Seattle from their Madrid (MAD) or Helsinki (HEL) hubs.
With Delta continuing its attempts to encroach on the Alaska hub, the alliance membership will be a big boon to Alaska Airlines as it fights to hold onto its dominant poistion in the airport.
Alaska Airlines joining Oneworld is a huge development for frequent flyers. As the aviation and travel industries recover from the pandemic and travel restrictions, this will unlock a world of opportunities for flyers loyal to any of Oneworld’s 14 alliance members.
Do you plan to take advantage of the new benefits? As a British Airways Executive Club gold elite, I’m looking forward to accessing elite benefits on Alaska and plan to book a trip as soon as practical to check out the newest member of the Oneworld alliance.
Bonus: Check out the other members of Oneworld welcoming Alaska Airlines with a special-edition of their safety dance!
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