Alaska Airlines May Soon Be A Oneworld Connect Partner….But What Does That Even Mean?

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The oneworld alliance has scheduled a meeting for 5 December at which, it is said, that a new full member of the alliance will be unveiled (the first new member in over six years) and at which Alaska Airlines is rumored to be unveiled as the second airline to become a “oneworld connect” partner.

We don’t know for sure which airline will be joining oneworld as a full partner (it looks like it will either be Royal Air Maroc or Philippine Airlines and neither see particularly exciting) but the more interesting story may be the one which suggests that Alaska Airlines will become a oneworld connect partner.

Oneworld announced the “oneworld connect” partnership back in June of this year at the same time that it revealed that Fiji Airways will be the first member of the new program….but what exactly is this new partnership all about?

a close-up of a blue and red airplane wing

Oneworld Connect

Oneworld connect partners are not full members of the alliance (they’re more like an official affiliate) so flyers can’t expect to have access to all the benefits that are afforded to those with oneworld status when they fly with a oneworld connect partner….but oneworld definitely says that there are benefits to be had.

“oneworld connect partners will provide select alliance benefits to frequent flyers from any oneworld member airline travelling on their flights, with a more extensive range of benefits offered with their oneworld sponsors.”

“Customers with Emerald, Sapphire or Ruby status in any oneworld member airline’s frequent flyer programme will be able to use priority check-in desks, where available.  Also, customers with Emerald or Sapphire status will be offered priority boarding.”

To become a oneworld connect partner an airline needs to be sponsored by at least three of the existing full oneworld members so, as oneworld says that members of the sponsoring airlines’ loyalty programs will receive an expanded range of benefits when flying the oneworld connect partner (see the table below), the question of who will be sponsoring Alaska Airlines is pretty significant.

a close-up of a customer service chart

If you’re a member of the loyalty program of an airline that sponsors Alaska Airlines’ oneworld connect membership the benefits open to you are considerably better than those afforded to other oneworld status holders.

American Airlines used to have a pretty close partnership with Alaska Airlines but, since 2017, that partnership has been devalued quite significantly.

If American Airlines was to sponsor Alaska’s entry into the oneworld connect program AAdvantage members would regain a lot of the benefits they lost when American pulled the plug on its relationship with Alaska Airlines.

Benefits like…

  • Earning AAdvantage Miles when flying on Alaska Airlines marketed and operated flights
  • Earning credit towards AAdvantage elite status when flying on Alaska Airlines marketed and operated flights
  • Having access to select Alaska Airlines lounges

Should this transpire it would be great news for US flyers (especially those of us on the West Coast)…but there has to be some doubt as to whether or not American would actually sponsor Alaska Airlines’ in the first place.

American Airlines was the party that originally instigated the split between the two airlines back in 2017 so one has to wonder what incentive it has to reestablish that partnership less than two years on. What’s changed to make American Airlines reconsider its decision? I can’t think of anything.

Bottom Line

Clearly a lot of this is just speculation as we’re not even sure that Alaska Airlines will be asked to become a oneworld connect partner….but it’s definitely an interesting topic to consider.

If Alaska Airlines was to become a oneworld connect partner it would be very important for US flyers that American Airlines be one of the sponsoring parties. If nothing else that alone should make the oneworld meeting on 5 December a very interesting one to watch.

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