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Alaska Airlines has been a member of the oneworld alliance for almost exactly a year so with that 12 month anniversary approaching, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a customer to expect the airline’s website to be able to deal with all of the more basic benefits that the oneworld alliance offers. Apparently, however, this is too much to ask.
Recently, I’ve been looking at various flight options open to me for a trip to Hawaii later in the year and as I’m keen to be able to use the seat selection benefit that my oneworld elite status gives me (to select exit row seats for me and the family), I’ve been limiting my searches to American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
Yesterday, I finally concluded that prices weren’t going to get any lower for the dates that I want to travel and with Alaska Airlines charging over $100 per person less than American Airlines for more convenient flights, I decided to book through the Alaska Airlines website.
As I went to make the booking, I made sure not to log in using my Mileage Plan account (because I don’t hold Alaska Airlines status) and I added my British Airways Executive Club number to the reservation as I entered my details (I hold BA Gold status which equates to oneworld Emerald status).
When, however, I reached the seat selection page, all of the seats that are supposedly reserved for “Alaska and oneworld elites” were greyed out and could not be selected.
I wasn’t trying to book a Basic Economy fare so this made no sense.
It occurred to me that the system may not like the fact that I was attempting to select seats for myself and four traveling companions so I restarted the booking process with just me as the sole traveler.
The same issue arose.
I then tried to reserve a single seat (for me) using my American Airlines Platinum elite status and the same thing happened again.
Just to make sure that there wasn’t some kind of new oneworld rule that I didn’t know about that was preventing me from reserving a seat, I headed over to aa.com to see what would happen if I tried to reserve 5 seats on an American Airlines flight using my British Airways status.
As I had expected, there wasn’t a problem at all.
I then called up the Alaska Airlines reservations team but after getting a message that the wait time was up to 55 minutes long (and as I couldn’t use the “call back” option), I gave up on that idea and contacted the Alaska Airlines Twitter team instead.
The first thing that I was told was that unlike American Airlines, Alaska Airlines only allows oneworld elites to select a preferred seat for themselves and not any traveling companions.
That’s pretty pathetic (assuming it’s true), but as I already knew that this wasn’t the crux of my problem (I hadn’t been able to reserve a seat when I was the only one on the reservation), I pushed back.
This was the eventual reply:
I couldn’t believe that this was true but after trying a friend’s details (and oneworld elite status) and getting the same result, a web search revealed that a few other people have had a similar issue and had to call up Alaska Airlines to get their preferred seats reserved.
It’s bad enough that Alaska Airlines (apparently) thinks that it’s ok to not offer free preferred seat selection to flyers traveling on the same reservation as a oneworld elite member (even British Airways offers this as a benefit), but to find out that a full 12 months after joining oneworld Alaska Airlines still hasn’t updated its website to allow oneworld elites to select a preferred seat is more than a little annoying. What’s the airline playing at?
When Alaska Airlines was announced as the latest addition to the oneworld alliance I was one of those who were genuinely excited at the news. Now, after having seen some of the laughable oneworld partner award pricing that the airline has introduced, after finding out that traveling companions of oneworld elites can’t select preferred seats, and after finding out that I have to call the reservations team if I want to use my oneworld seat selection benefit, I’m starting to wonder if having Alaska Airlines as a oneworld member is a worthwhile thing after all. So far I’m not really seeing much to get excited about.