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UPDATE: Clarifications from Alaska Airlines on a couple of points have been added.
Wow, wow, wow, wow!!! I have no idea how this news was kept under wraps for so long but kudos to all who knew – secrets are clearly safe with you!
Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have issued a joint statement in which they have announced a new “West Coast International Alliance” under which Alaska’s West Coast network will connect up to (and feed) American’s long-haul network, which will see Alaska Airlines becoming a member of the oneworld alliance in 2021 and which will see American Airlines launching a new route to Asia and a new route out of Alaska’s hub in Seattle.
This Is What’s Happening – In Summary
- Alaska Airlines intends to join the oneworld alliance by summer 2021.
- American Airlines will launch the first daily service from Seattle to Bangalore from October 2020. Flights will go on sale later this month.
- American Airlines will begin operating between Seattle and London Heathrow from March 2021. Fares will go on sale from May 2020.
- American & Alaska airlines will continue their domestic codeshare agreement and expand the codeshares to include American’s international routes out of Los Angeles and Seattle.
- Alaska Mileage Plan members and American Airlines AAdvantage members will enjoy reciprocal benefits including the ability to earn and use miles on both airlines’ full networks. Members can earn miles on all Alaska and American Airlines flights with immediate effect and will be able to spend miles on both airlines from “Spring 2020”.
- Flyers with Admirals Club memberships will be able to use that membership to access Alaska’s Lounges and Alaska flyers with lounge memberships will be able to use that membership to access Admirals Clubs (when traveling on the same day on an American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flight) – effective immediately.
I’m genuinely stunned. I had absolutely no idea that any of this was on the cards but I’m delighted that it’s all happening.
Considering American’s relationship with Alaska has been deteriorating rapidly over recent years (see here for more on that) it’s more than a little surprising to now suddenly discover that the airlines are best buddies all over again.
From a miles & points point of view, this is truly fantastic news. Alaska’s Mileage Plan is one of the last remaining airline loyalty programs that offers really good value to its members and, in a year’s time, it’s suddenly going to be a lot easier to earn Mileage Plan miles and status than it is right now.
Yes, I may have to temper my excitement a bit until I see what Alaska’s membership of oneworld will mean for its partnerships with the likes of Emirates, Korean Air, and Singapore Airlines…but considering how many oneworld members partner with airlines outside of the alliance there’s no reason to believe that Alaska will have to cut any ties.
From an American Airlines point of view this is very interesting. Alaska and Delta were once good friends in Seattle but, once that partnership got flushed, Delta ramped up its operations out of the Pacific Northwest (Delta’s new A330-900neos are based out of Seattle) and froze Alaska out. It even turned Seattle into a hub.
Now American is in town and with American being a whole different beast to Alaska, it will be fun to watch how this American-Delta competition plays out.
As far as American’s new routes go, I’m intrigued by both.
- Bangalore seems an odd destination to choose for American’s first Seattle – Asia route (I would have thought that there are at least half-a-dozen other cities in Asia that would have been higher up the list of options) but, as I’m neither an insider or a route planning expert, I have to believe that the bean counters have worked out that there’s money to be made here.
- The new route to London is even odder. British Airways (an airline with whom American profit shares on all transatlantic routes) already operates up to 2 daily flights between Seattle and London (7 weekly flights in winter and 14 weekly flights in the summer) so is there really any need for yet more capacity? Perhaps there is…or perhaps BA will be giving up one of its flights to American and making better use of its aircraft elsewhere?
Whatever the reasoning for these routes, it’s great to see more options being made available for flyers – I’m not complaining, I’m just confused! 🙂
It’s nice to see American and Alaska Airlines getting together again and, as a West-coaster, this is genuinely good news for me…but the big news is the news that Alaska Airlines will be joining oneworld.
I can’t wait to find out how many miles and how many elite status credits Qatar Airways Business Class flights will earn in Mileage Plan once Alaska joins oneworld – are we about to get an even better (more economical) path to oneworld top-tier status? Let’s hope so!