Free First Class Next Month: Airline Hubs and Alliances

This is the eighteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously You Can Earn Miles Doing Anything.

For a beginner, one important thing to help understand which routings are possible on awards or which alliance is the best for certain trips is to know a little bit about the alliances and the airlines that make them up.

One important fact is that you can always book awards using one airline’s miles on its own flights and on that airline’s alliance partners. (And usually airlines also have a few other partners not in their alliance like British Airways’, American Airline’s, and Delta’s partnerships with Alaska Airlines.)

Below is a list of each alliances’ members and those members’ hubs and codes. Knowing these lists or at least where to find them will make you a much savvier flyer.

Carriers are in alphabetical order except US-based carriers are listed first. Each entry starts with the two letter airline code, then the airline, then its hubs.

Star Alliance

(UA) United Airlines (Newark, Houston-Intercontinental, Washington-Dulles, Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Cleveland, Tokyo-Narita, Guam)
(US) US Airways (Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix) has announced a merger with American Airlines. When the merger is complete, the new American will be part of oneworld.

(JP) Adria Airways (Ljubljana)
(A3) Aegean Airlines (Athens)
(AC) Air Canada (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver)
(CA) Air China (Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai)
(NZ) Air New Zealand (Auckland)
(NH) ANA (Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka, Osaka-Kansai)
(OZ) Asiana Airlines (Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Gimpo)
(OS) Austrian Airlines (Vienna)
(AV) Avianca (Bogota, Sao Paulo, Quito)
(SN) Brussels Airlines (Brussels)
(CM) Copa (Panama City)
(OU) Croatia Airlines (Zagreb)
(MS) EgyptAir (Cairo)
(ET) Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa)
(LO) LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw)
(LH) Lufthansa (Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin-Brandenburg)
(SK) Scandinavian Airlines (Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm)
(ZH) Shenzhen Airlines (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Nanjing)
(SQ) Singapore Airlines (Singapore)
(SA) South African Airways (Johannesburg)
(LX) Swiss International Air Lines (Zurich)
(JJ) TAM Airlines (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia)
(TP) TAP Portugal (Lisbon)
(TA) TACA (San Salvador, San Jose (CR), Lima)
(TG) Thai Airways International (Bangkok)
(TK) Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Ataturk)

EVA Airlines to join in 2013.

SkyTeam

(DL) Delta Airlines (Atlanta, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Detroit, Amsterdam, Tokyo-Narita, Paris-Charles de Gaulle)

(SU) Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
(AR) Aerolineas Argentinas (Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Buenos Aires-Aeroparque)
(AM) Aeroméxico (Mexico City)
(UX) Air Europa (Madrid)
(AF) Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Lyon, Toulouse-Blagnac, Marseille, Nice)
(AZ) Alitalia (Rome-Fiumicino)
(CI) China Airlines (Taipei-Kaohsiung, Taipei-Taoyuan)
(MU) China Eastern Airlines (Kunming, Shanghai-Pudong, Shanghai-Hongqiao, Xi’an)
(CZ) China Southern Airlines (Beijing-Capital, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Urumqi)
(OK) Czech Airlines (Prague)
(KQ) Kenya Airways (Nairobi)
(KL) KLM (Amsterdam)
(KE) Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Gimpo)
(ME) Middle East Airlines (Beirut)
(SV) Saudia (Dammam, Jeddah, Medinah, Ryiadh)
(RO) TAROM (Bucharest)
(VN) Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City)
(MF) Xiamen Airlines (Xiamen, Fuzhou, Hangzhou)

Garuda Indonesia to join in 2014.

oneworld

(AA) American Airlines (Dallas-Fort Worth, New York-JFK, Los Angeles, Chicago-O’Hare, Miami)

(AB) Air Berlin (Berlin-Brandenburg, Dusseldorf)
(BA) British Airways (London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick)
(CX) Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
(AY) Finnair (Helsinki)
(IB) Iberia (Madrid, Barcelona)
(JL) Japan Airlines (Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Osaka, Osaka-Kansai)
(LA) LAN (Santiago, Lima)
(MH) Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur)
(QF) Qantas (Sydney, Melbourne)
(RJ) Royal Jordanian (Amman)
(S7) S7 Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo, Novosibirsk)

Members elect expected to join in the next 12 months: SriLankan Airlines and Qatar Airways.

The Star Alliance is the largest alliance. It is dominant in Europe and strong everywhere.

SkyTeam is the second largest alliance. It is dominant in Asia. Its North American partner Delta has the worst frequent flyer program of the legacy carriers.

oneworld is the runt of the three alliances. It will be getting bigger with the merger of American and US Airways. It has the only Australian airline in any alliance plus several airlines with incredible premium products like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, and Qatar.

Tons of airlines are not part of any alliances. They usually make one off codesharing deals or several partners across many alliances. Major unaffiliated airlines include virtually all budget airlines and several premium airlines:

Southwest
JetBlue
Frontier
Hawaiian
Allegiant
Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia
Emirates
Etihad
every other airline not mentioned in this article

Continue to Searching United.com to Redeem United and US Airways Miles.

15 Responses to Free First Class Next Month: Airline Hubs and Alliances

  1. I was and still confused about the Star Alliance program and for example, how I can use my USAIR Divident Miles to book a trip on Tam Airlines to Brazil. Can you please enlighten me/us on what the procedure is and how to do it? I would really appreciate it.
    Thanks!

    • Search for the space on united.com then call US Airways at 800-622-1015 to book. Or just call US Airways and ask them to search. OR contact my award booking service: milevalue.com/award-booking-service

      • I have a similar question. I have Dividend miles to burn to get to PDX from EWR. There are 12,500 point seats available showing on United, but there are only 25,000 or 50,000 seats showing on US Air. Is there an way to get the 12,500 point seat using Dividend miles or is that a lost cause?

        • Cara, United.com shows you the availability of Star Aliance flights. But anytime you book a ticket using miles, you have to use the award chart of the mileage program you are drawing from.

          So in this case, b/c you are drawing from Dividend Miles, you have to use the US Airways award chart (25k or 50k miles, as you indicate) not United’s award chart (12.5k miles, as you indicate). You could only get the 12.5k award if you were using United miles.

  2. Shenzhen Airlines (ZH) is a Star Alliance member. Hubs: SZX, CAN, NKG, NNG, SHE.
    Blue1 (KF) was a member. No it is a partner, owned by SAS.

    US bought AA so in my opinion the new US will be part of Start Alliance.

    LAN and TAM merged into LATAM and this Latin America giant will be part of One World.

  3. Thank you for this plain, simple, well explained post.

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  5. Correction to your list of Alliance partners: you’ve left out COPA (CM), hub in Panama City, as a Star Alliance member. For those travelling anywhere in Central America COPA provides excellent connections from Argentina to Mexico and further north, with good service staff, new planes, a nice business lounge in PTY and – need I say? – generous mileage accrual on Star partners.

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