Alaska Airlines News Oneworld

Alaska Airlines joins oneworld: What now and what next for Mileage Plan?

From new Mileage Plan earning charts and alliance perks to what changes we can expect for award rates, now that Alaska Airlines has joined oneworld.

On 31st March 2021, Alaska Airlines marked a significant milestone in its 89-year history by joining a global alliance – oneworld. The carrier has become the 14th full member of the alliance, meaning all Alaska Mileage Plan members can now earn miles when they fly with any of the other 13 member airlines.

Award redemption on all oneworld carriers using Alaska miles didn’t quite make it to launch day, with the airline promising the option will be available “in the coming months”.

For our readers in the Asia-Pacific region, changes in the redemption department will be the biggest news, but we think we have at least some inkling which direction that will go in, so read on.

First let’s take a look at what’s changed already for Mileage Plan members.

Oneworld status match

If you hold tier status in the Alaska programme, you’ve now been matched into the equivalent oneworld tier, as shown below.

The following table also outlines some of the alliance perks you can now enjoy.

MVP Gold (oneworld Sapphire) and MVP Gold 75K (oneworld Emerald) are the important ones to hold here, since they give you access to oneworld Business Class and First Class lounges, when you travel on a oneworld member-operated flight.

oneworld lounge options at Changi include the British Airways Lounge. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In Singapore T1, that should include the excellent Qantas Business and First Class options, plus the British Airways lounge, once travel restarts.

Unfortunately, while many of our readers have Alaska Miles, most don’t have Alaska status, since you must take at least some paid flights on the carrier’s own services each year to climb the tier ladder.

New earning charts

Alaska has always been a great FFP to credit paid flights into when travelling with the programme’s partner airlines, including Singapore Airlines, due to the generous earning rates typically offered, especially when flying in premium cabins.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s even possible to credit your paid Business Class or First Class flight on Singapore Airlines to the Alaska Mileage Plan programme, for a better earn rate in most cases, but also earn PPS Value at the same time.

Crediting paid partner flights to Alaska Mileage Plan, including on Singapore Airlines, can be a lot more rewarding than earning KrisFlyer miles. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Alaska’s entry into the oneworld alliance means there are now six new earning charts to check before your next paid flight with the following oneworld member airlines:

New Alaska Mileage Plan
Earning Charts
  Airline Earning Chart Link
Iberia
Malaysia Airlines
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian
S7 Airlines
SriLankan Airlines

These are all on the generous side, which is great news. Take the Malaysia Airlines chart for example.

As you can see, most Business Class fares will net you 225% of miles flown when you credit to Alaska Mileage Plan.

For a round-trip Singapore – Kuala Lumpur – Tokyo flight, that means earning 15,900 Alaska Miles when you credit to Mileage Plan. You’ll also pick up 10,600 Elite-qualifying miles.

Crediting to some other oneworld programmes on the same routing is less lucrative:

  • British Airways: 8,850 Avios
  • Cathay Pacific: 8,850 Asia Miles
  • Malaysia Airlines: 14,150 Enrich Points
  • Qatar Airways: 8,850 Qmiles
You can now credit paid flights on Malaysia Airlines to Alaska Mileage Plan. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Wheretocredit.com is a great resource we’ve written about before, where you can check which FFP will earn you the most miles for paid fares, though do be aware they haven’t quite caught up with the Alaska earn rates on new oneworld partners just yet.

Future award charts

Alaska Mileage Plan currently has a separate award chart for each of its partner airlines.

For example, to redeem Alaska miles to fly from Singapore to Tokyo in Business Class will cost you a different amount, depending on the partner airline you redeem for:

  • Cathay Pacific: 22,500 miles
  • JAL: 25,000 miles
  • SIA: 60,000 miles

While it’s not impossible for Alaska to retain separate award charts for each of its oneworld alliance partners, old and new, it’s much more likely that a generic chart for all oneworld redemptions is being created.

Together as one: a unified award chart when using Alaska miles on alliance partner flights is likely. (Photo: oneworld)

Practically all other oneworld airlines have a harmonised redemption chart when using their miles or points to redeem flights on other alliance carriers, so it’s totally logical for Alaska to follow suit.

These charts are typically either distance-based, like JAL’s chart, or region/zone-based, like the American Airlines chart.

The big fear? Those great ‘sweet spots’ like Cathay Pacific Asia to USA Business Class awards for 50,000 Alaska miles are in the danger zone!

There should be 90 days notice

Alaska has promised to give 90 days notice of any change to existing partner award rates, which is an inevitable scenario if it moves to a single award chart for all its oneworld alliance partners.

“We will strive to give at least 90 days’ notice if changes are coming to any current partner awards”

Alaska Airlines

In this sense, the delay in publishing new award rates from “summer 2021” to “in the coming months” or “later in 2021”, Alaska’s latest stance, is probably good news.

For example, let’s say a new harmonised Mileage Plan oneworld award chart, with many existing Cathay and JAL ‘sweet spots’ removed, comes into effect from 1st September 2021.

In theory, Alaska should then be revealing these new award rates around 1st June 2021, allowing you three months to redeem at existing rates. That would mean the ability to continue to make the current (good value) redemption bookings for flights well into the summer 2022, softening the blow of any devaluations.

There should still be time to book good value awards on Cathay Pacific, like Singapore to the USA for 50,000 Alaska Miles in Business Class, for travel well into 2022, even if a devaluation happens. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

What sort of rates can we expect?

This is a guessing game at this stage, but assuming Alaska does shift to a single award chart for oneworld redemptions, we think it’s likely to closely mimic that of its closest partner (and sponsor carrier for oneworld membership), American Airlines.

Why do we think that?

Well, American is setting up a long-haul network at Alaska’s primary hub, Seattle, including flights to Europe and Asia, and already Alaska’s Mileage Plan programme has been progressively more closely aligned to American’s AAdvantage scheme recently.

ADVERTISEMENT

This includes aspects like earning rates being brought in unison and upgrade priority for members set to be ‘evened up’ across both carriers.

Indeed Ben from One Mile at a Time believes the upcoming new Mileage Plan 100K status, announced in January 2021, is being adopted purely to align elite tiers with AAdvantage.

If you’re going to the trouble of harmonising all these benefits, why stop at oneworld redemption rates?

If there’s a oneworld carrier to pick when predicting Alaska’s future award rates, it’s surely American Airlines. (Photo: Alan Wilson)

What would that mean for some of the Cathay Pacific and JAL ‘sweet spots’ we’ve become used to with the Alaska programme?

Here’s a look at the one-way AAdvantage rates alongside existing Mileage Plan rates on some of the ‘sweet spots’ our readers based in Asia tend to get their value from, when redeeming Alaska miles.

‘Sweet Spot’ AStrans