In February 2020, Alaska Airlines made a surprising announcement that it would transitioning from an independent airline with various partners to joining Oneworld Alliance, but a date was not provided.
Then, in August 2020, it was speculated that Alaska would be joining sooner rather than later. This announcement instilled fear in the hearts of those that had a lot of Alaska miles in their accounts because there was uncertainty about what would happen to the “value” of the Alaska Mileage Plan miles should the airline transition before one was able to redeem them.
Finally, last month, Alaska Airlines made it official and revealed they would be joining the Oneworld alliance on 31 March 2021.
MILEAGE PLAN BACKGROUND
The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program has an amazing list of airline partners including: Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Condor, El Al, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Finnair, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, LATAM Airlines, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines.
But over the course of the past year, I’ve said that several of Alaskas “partnerships” were in jeopardy because of the decision to join Oneworld alliance.
- Emirates (a current Alaska partner) is not in an alliance, however, Qatar is a Oneworld alliance partner and I suspect this will create some tension
- LATAM Airlines (a current Alaska partner) is a SkyTeam member (with Delta), so that relationship may be on the edge
- Korean Air (a current Alaska partner) is a SkyTeam member (with Delta), so that relationship may be on the edge too.
Interestingly, Alaska Airlines said in their statement:
“Also, you might be wondering about our partnerships with our current Global Partners that are not a part of oneworld. We value the benefits those partnerships provide our guests, and we’ll continue to maintain them as long as it’s mutually beneficial to do so.“
…which means absolutely nothing given the partnerships could be “no longer mutually beneficial” on Day 1 when Alaska officially enters the alliance.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END?
Well, according to Alaska Airlines’ partner overview, Emirates will no longer allow partner access to First Class awards as of 1 April 2021.
Focusing on the date, Alaska Airlines will be joining the Oneworld alliance on 31 March 2021, so 1 April makes sense.
However, what I find interesting is that the airline goes on to say that “Mileage Plan members can continue to redeem on Emirates’ award winning Economy Class and Business Class.” In other words, the relationship isn’t eliminated but First Class is no longer available.
With opulent gold-studded cabins and an onboard shower and bar, it’s understandable why Emirates First Class sits at the top of most award travelers’ bucket lists.
However, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will no longer allow partner access to First Class awards on Emirates beginning 1 April 2021.
Fortunately, all is not lost. For those that are interested in booking an Emirates First Class ticket directly through the Emirates Skywards program, you’ll be happy to know that you can still experience this bucket list item by transferring points from Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, and Marriott Bonvoy.
What do you think about this announcement? Does it impact your points strategy?
HT: Frequent Miler
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