Alaska Airlines Delays Joining Oneworld Alliance to 2021

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Update 12/10/2020: Alaska Airlines unveiled which Oneworld elite status levels Alaska Mileage Plan elites will get:

  • MVP Gold 75K = Oneworld Emerald
  • MVP Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
  • MVP = Oneworld Ruby

Update 10/12/2020: Alaska Airlines formally announced that it will join the Oneworld alliance on March 31, 2021.

Once again, the date that Alaska Airlines plans to join the Oneworld alliance has been changed. During a presentation this Wednesday, Alaska Airlines president Ben Minicucci shared a new target for when the airline plans to fully integrate into the Oneworld alliance. Instead of the most recently announced timeline of joining Oneworld by the end of 2020, Alaska now aims to join by the end of March 2021.

Alaska Airlines Oneworld Timeline

It was only February 2020 when Alaska Airlines announced its plan to join the Oneworld alliance. This announcement was made as Alaska strengthened its ties with American Airlines. At that time, the target was to join the alliance by summer 2021:

Alaska Airlines Oneworld timeline

Of course, a lot has changed in the travel ecosystem since this announcement was made. The coronavirus pandemic has crippled the airline industry and led to drastic reductions in staffing and expansions. For example, American Airlines delayed the launch of the new routes teased in the timeline above.

Despite these setbacks, Alaska announced in July that it aimed to join Oneworld alliance by the end of 2020. Now, Alaska blames technology integrations for having to push its entry into Oneworld back a couple of months.

Alaska will bring the number of airlines in the Oneworld alliance back up to 14. LATAM dropped out of the alliance in May 2020.

What Does This Mean for Travelers

Alaska's joining of the Oneworld alliance offers known positives but unknown downsides.

Oneworld Alliance Benefits

I think it's safe to say that the biggest benefit will be the ability to use your Alaska Mileage Plan miles across all airlines within the Oneworld alliance. You will also earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles when flying with any Oneworld alliance airline.

However, some details are still unknown. For example, we don't yet know yet how Alaska's elite statuses (MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K) will be assigned to Oneworld elite tiers (Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald).

Will Alaska Change Its Award Chart?

Alaska Mileage Plan offers one of the most valuable and generous airline loyalty programs around. Mileage Plan is already a partner of several Oneworld airlines. For example, you can currently pay just 50,000 Alaska miles to fly Cathay Pacific business class one-way from the U.S. to Asia (including a free stopover). An award in Cathay Pacific First Class costs just 70,000 miles one-way.

For comparison, American Airlines also partners with Cathay Pacific. American AAdvantage members have to pay 70,000 and 110,000 miles, respectively, for the same awards. And it's no mistake that Alaska Mileage Plan charges the same exact award prices for American Airlines flights on the same route:

Mileage Plan fans are concerned that Alaska will reassess its award charts as part of its entry into Oneworld. As part of this, Alaska could standardize award charts across its partner airlines, eliminating many of the current sweet spots.

Final Thoughts

Alaska joining the Oneworld alliance will give Alaska flyers more access to international routes and elite benefits on more airlines. That's going to be great once the world comes out of lockdown and travel restrictions are lifted. Hopefully, Alaska will be able to work through the technical issues and there won't be any more changes to the target date of Q1 2021.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Mikelis Treide says:

    I love Alaska! It is a bold move to join OneWorld. I am sorry to hear that it may be bit longer to enter OW, but I see great opportunities in mile redemption and better connections via other OW partners. I have Alaska Milage Plan that I used for EK flights and AAdvantage for rest if OW, it means in future probably I will have to choose with would be better to use. Most of the times I check wheretocredit.com in order to check if booking class even qualify for one of the programs, as the cheapest class earns 0 in some programs.

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    Oooooh…. this is good to know. Thank you so much!

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    It will be good to postpone it under this COVID-19 situation.

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    Could be also an advantage keeping the existing rules for the moment.

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    The delay isn’t terrible, probably given COVID, makes sense to wait. Just hoping that the devaluations isn’t too bad. Currently, their partnerships offer a sweet spot.

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    what’s a good choice to buy point at this low-price ? I’d like to buy 150K point and get 75k bouns and will be go to travel at Europe later.

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    Juan Ignacio says:

    Hope all alliances get more members in each continents

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    I don’t care when it’s will be joining into One world alliance. Just care does it’s will be devaluate.

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    One world one of the best alliances . All it’s members will welcome Alaska

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    I just hope that Alaska Airlines does not change the current sweet spots when they finally join oneworld.

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    Well I guess we’ll have to wait to use Alaska Mileage Plan miles within the Oneworld alliance. Too bad!

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    I wonder how alliances will work in the post pandemic world.

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    I have been looking forward to Alaska joining the alliance. I am going to be doing a lot of flying in Alaska’s route system in the future, so I’ll be earning Alaska points and hopefully using the award chart sweet spots as long as they remain.

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    I do still have some Alaska miles pending use, hopefully this will bring some additional options!

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    Award Wallet “rocks”. It’s difficult for the busy traveler to keep track of all of the loyalty programs absent Award Wallet. It’s especially useful with changes like the Alaska OneWorld deal. Who has time to keep track of all of this activity? Award Wallet.

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    The benefit will not be fully realized until the pandemic is over.

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    I have traveled with Alaska and it was always a good experience. And if you join Oneworld, I will travel much more often.

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    I hope this increases the notional value of the miles. The redemptions will stay for now. Wow

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    Laurent.Molly says:

    Just delay only 3 months. but we can use much more good redeem chart to redeem CX first class or bussiness class flight. I don’t like it’s combine into One World.

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    What’s sad news. I’d like to take Alaska Airlines by AA points asap. But I have to wait for 2021. But this year also i can’t go out with filight.

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    Alaska has been my go to program for years. Great value though hard to earn. Dread to think that they will it their award chart but honestly can’t see how the could avoid it. By joining OW I’d be surprised if it didn’t change from Day 1.