First it was summer of 2021 then it was before the end of 2020 but now it appears to be that Alaska Airlines will officially become a member of the oneworld alliance on March 31, 2021.
Recommended reading: Alaska Airlines to join oneworld alliance and rehashes partnership with American Airlines
As we mentioned in the above linked post there is both good and bad news to Alaska Airlines joining oneworld. The good news is the airline will gain more partners that you will be able to redeem Mileage Plan miles with. The Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is a key program for Canadian miles aficionados thanks to its current breadth of partners, relative ease at earning miles (earned from tthe MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercards and Alaska’s frequent buy miles bonuses) and amazing redemption rates for premium class travel on airlines like Cathay Pacific, JAL, Emirates and more – let alone award flights on their own metal starting at only 5,000 miles. It is these amazing redemption rates where the bad news will likely come in. Those 5,000 mile redemptions on Alaska will likely remain but the big question will be what will happen to their current partner redemptions and those actual non-oneworld partnerships? Here’s what Alaska states about those partnerships:
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.
So as long at is beneficial they will remain and if the current loyalty space is any indicator I don’t think Alaska will lose many of those non oneworld partners. The reason why is that in recent years we’ve actually seen a trend of alliance airlines partnering with airlines from competing alliances or airlines that have no allegiance. Both Aeroplan and Lufthansa’s Miles & More added long time competitor and oneworld carrier Cathay Pacific as a partner and we’ve also seen Aeroplan add the likes of Etihad and Vistara which are non-alliance airlines. Currently Alaska has one Star Alliance partner (Singapore Airlines) and one SkyTeam partner (Korean Air) both of whom I feel have beneficial relationships with Alaska – if we were to lose one I would wager a guess on Singapore Airlines since they are closely matched with Cathay Pacific. I don’t think they’ll drop Emirates as a partner either – Alaska provides a good feed to Emirates west coast US flights and vice versa. In fact I do see each of their current non oneworld partnerships as being quite beneficial. Hopefully I’m not wrong and Alaska will continue to partner with all of these airlines.
Now on to the actual redemption of miles for those partner airlines. This is where the inevitable bad news will lie. Although it is just speculation one can only imagine that Mileage Plan will do away with an award chart for each individual partner and make one set chart for oneworld redemptions that would also likely cover their non-oneworld partners. It is also being assumed that the redemption amounts that will be higher than what they are now. Now, while nothing has been published to corroborate this we can go on past experience from other airlines joining alliances that this will happen. Remember back in the early 2000s when several SkyTeam airlines had the best redemption rates between Canada and Hawaii (namely Air France, KLM & Czech Airlines) that went away quickly once the alliance blossomed and all the airlines began bring the award charts more inline with other partners who ultimately were charging more miles (Delta is one example). Ultimately this means you’ll want to book some of those best Mileage Plan redemptions sooner than later – the 70K Cathay Pacific first class award, 60K JAL business class award and so on. If you book now you can book travel to roughly this time next year and of course if you book in January you can book something into 2022. You should have right up until March 30 to do so but there’s no rules in place that Alaska can’t issue new reward charts for their partner airlines prior to that date.
Overall let’s hope there will be more good news out of Alaska joining oneworld than bad and that if and when Alaska reveals new redemption rates for their partner airlines that they aren’t far from what they are now.