Alaska to join OneWorld, refreshes American Airlines partnership

by Neil McPherson

14 February 2020



In a surprise move, Alaska Airlines announced that it will be joining the OneWorld alliance as a full member "by Summer 2021" (of the northern hemisphere).

It also announced a stronger partnership with American Airlines, reversing an earlier decline in their relationship towards only codesharing with no reciprocity of loyalty membership benefits.

What does this mean for travellers?

This opens up many new route alternatives for Alaska members. It also makes the combination a strong competitor for Delta, by combining Alaska's strong presnece on the US west coast with American's international long-haul capacity.

Once approved as a member of OneWorld, Alaska Mileage Plan members will be able to earn and redeem miles on not only select, but on all OneWorld alliance members' flights.

Are there downsides for travellers?

The main concerns I have are that by formally joining an alliance, Alaska will have less flexibility in what it offers its Mileage Plan members.

Alaska's Mileage plan is amongst my favourites for international flights because :


My concern is that once part of OneWorld, the Mileage Plan will become more aligned with the programs of other alliance members.

In my view, Alaska will want to retain its Mileage Plan members and not risk leakage to other OneWorld loyalty programs. To satisfy alliance requirements yet still retain an advantage and reduce this leakage risk may mean:


I hope that any changes to Alaska's Mileage Plan are not too severe, otherwise what many points travellers regard as a super program with a well-regarded airline may be badly impaired. If the changes are moderate, then Mileage Plan members will benefit from a wider range of route options and gain the flexibility to have different carriers on one trip.