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Alaska has announced some significant changes to its partnership with American Airlines. While the partnership is not being entirely terminated like its deal with Delta, the changes are sufficiently drastic to effectively gut the relationship. The reason the change is coming in is due to Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America; to gain approval from the US authorities, Alaska had to cut down its partnerships with other US carriers. Depending on which program you are a member of there are changes for AA travelers flying Alaska Metal and vice versa.
Changes For Alaska Members Flying AA
From the perspective of Alaska Mileage Plan members, the following will be changing:
- No elite benefits when traveling AA after December 31, 2017
- Mileage Plan miles are no longer earned on Domestic AA flights that are NOT a codeshare
- Starting in 2018 there will be changes to the award bookings; below are the changes:
The pricing changes are a mixed bag, for those who use Alaska miles to travel on AA within the US and to the Caribbean and Mexico there is some good news since the prices have dropped, with the biggest winners being those who fly within the US and Canada, who have seen their award pricing for Business/First Class slashed from 32,500 to 25,000 miles.
The biggest losers from the changes are Alaska members who redeem their miles for AA international flights. Premium cabins for flights to Asia, South America, and Europe have seen a substantial increase in the cost of their fares; the biggest hit is for First Class travel to Asia Zone 2 with prices jumping from 67,500 to 110,000 miles.
The good news for Alaska Mileage Plan members is that some parts of the partnership will survive, and they will still be eligible to receive the following:
- Members will still earn miles on AA international flights, and on domestic codeshare flights
- Lounge members will still be able to access the Admirals Club Lounges whether they are traveling AA or Alaska
- Mileage Plan members can still redeem their miles for all AA flights.
Changes For AA Members Flying Alaska
The changes for American Airlines Members are almost a mirror image of those for Alaska; the following will not change:
- Members will still earn miles on codeshare flights with Alaska Airlines
- AA Admiral Club members will still be able to access to Alaska Lounges
- America AAdvantage members can still redeem their miles for Alaska flights.
The key to the next phase of the relationship is that the only thing holding it together is the code sharing agreement. From and AA members perspective the following will apply:
- Members will only earn miles on flights booked as a codeshare (flight was booked with an AA prefix)
- Elite status credits will only be given to flights that are booked as a codeshare
- AA Elites lose all their perks and benefits when traveling Alaska.
Whether you view the change in the partnership as a positive or a negative one will depend on your travel patterns and what you used the partnership for. While the loss of travel perks and only earning on codeshares is a hit, most Elite flyers with both programs will probably still be happy with Lounge access which is not affected, and the fact that you can still redeem miles on the other carrier. The happiest people would be Alaska Elites who regularly redeem miles on AA Metal to the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. How do the changes affect you, are you happy with the downgrading of the relationship or has it made things more difficult?
Source: View From The Wing
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