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Sometimes I wonder if American Airlines genuinely can’t help itself. On the same day that the airline was finally able to announce a genuine improvement to its AAdvantage earnings charts (just a few days after the airline was left embarrassed by the loss of a key oneworld partner), it shoots itself in the foot by promptly announcing the end of yet another arrangement with a valued partner airline.
It’s no big secret that American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have been moving further and further apart in recent years (most Alaska Airlines flights stopped being eligible for mileage accrual at the beginning of 2018) but with American Airlines being increasingly reluctant to open up award inventory on its own flights, Alaska Airlines has become an ever more important partner on which AAdvantage members could spend their hard-earned miles.
Not any more.
As ViewFromTheWing noticed a few hours ago, American Airlines is removing Alaska Airlines as an award partner effective 1 March 2020 and the usefulness of American’s partnership with Alaska Airlines is more or less at an end.
How Things Are Changing
- AAdvantage members will no longer be able to redeem AAdvantage miles for travel on any Alaska Airlines operated flights.
- Alaska Mileage Plan members will not be able to redeem Alaska miles for travel on any American Airlines operated flights.
- Alaska Mileage Plan members will not be able to earn Alaska miles for travel on American Airlines international flights (mileage accrual on domestic flights was removed in 2018)
What’s Not Changing
- Admirals Club members will continue to be able to access Alaska Lounges when flying on American Airlines or Alaska airlines (a boarding pass for travel on the day of access is needed).
- Alaska Lounge members will continue to be able to access Admirals Clubs when flying on American Airlines or Alaska airlines (a boarding pass for travel on the day of access is needed).
I’ve consistently found it easier to redeem AAdvantage miles on Alaska Airlines than on American and I’ve made good use of Alaska’s award availability between the West Coast and Hawaii on multiple occasions when American’s award inventory never opened up.
I’m going to be sad to see that redemption opportunity disappear and it will probably mean that I’ll have to participate in a few more of Alaska’s mileage sales to make sure I have enough miles to get to Hawaii economically when cash fares are high.
With Alaska’s network heavily focused on the West Coast, it will only be a subset of AAdvantage members who feel the full loss of this partnership but, as a West Coaster myself, it’s a loss which will probably see me revaluate my valuation of an AAdvantage Mile.
I’m not sure how badly this will hit Alaska’s Mileage Plan members given the fact that domestic award space on American Airlines isn’t the easiest thing to find when fares are high and international award space is even harder to find if you want to use your miles economically…but I’m sure the loss of access to American’s network outside of the West Coast will be a noticeable negative to quite a few Alaska Airlines flyers.
This is another blow to the AAdvantage program as American announces the loss of a second airline partner in the space of a week. Despite the good news regarding Qantas flights that I discussed earlier this hasn’t been a good few days for American Airlines flyers.
I’ve been crediting all my oneworld flights to the British Airways Executive Club for the past two years and although I was a little worried that I’d miss collecting AAdvantage Miles when I first made the change, I can honestly say that I’ve not regretted my decision once since the day I made it.
News like this just solidifies my belief that I jumped ship at the right time.