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On March 31, 2021, Alaska Airlines officially joined the Oneworld airline alliance. Oneworld now has 14 member airlines with a fantastic global reach and includes some of the top-rated airlines in the world such as Cathay Pacific and Qatar. 

So what exactly does this mean for travelers? So far we’ve only seen the good news. Alaska already has codeshare agreements with other carriers, but now that Alaska is a full member of Oneworld, the codeshare arrangements will expand significantly and will include other alliance members, such as British Airways, Iberia, and American Airlines. This gives Alaska and the members of its frequent flyer program access to a huge network of carriers. 

How Will Joining Oneworld Impact Earning Alaska miles?

Now that Alaska is a full partner in Oneworld, flyers will be able to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on all Oneworld member airlines as well as earn miles with all Oneworld airlines for travel on Alaska Airlines. 

Sounds simple, right? However, Alaska has a separate award earning chart for each partner with mileage earning rates for each one of its partners. 

To help you navigate the complicated mileage earning rules, a website called Where to credit can be a great resource. 

How Will Joining Oneworld Impact Redeeming Alaska miles?

For now it’s business as usual and you’ll have to wait till summer 2021 to book awards on Oneworld partners with Alaska miles. You can continue to redeem Mileage Plan miles on several Oneworld airlines that are already Alaska’s partners, including American, Finnair, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Japan Airlines.

Right now we also don’t know if there were going to be any award chart changes, but Alaska promised to give 90 days notice of any changes to its award chart. We hope that Alaska keeps stopovers on one-way awards and will allow award redemptions on more than one partner airline as they do today. 

How Will Joining Oneworld Impact Alaska Mileage Plan status

One of the best benefits of a global airline alliance are the standardized perks when traveling on partner airlines. So if you are an Alaska MVP now, these are the equivalent tiers of Mileage Plan status on Oneworld:

  • Alaska MVP status gets Oneworld Ruby
  • Alaska MVP Gold status gets Oneworld Sapphire
  • Alaska MVP Gold 75K status gets Oneworld Emerald

You’ll be able now to earn elite miles for travel on all Oneworld partner airlines.

How Will Joining Oneworld Alliance Impact Alaska’s non-Oneworld partners?

Alaska has always had some really great non-alliance partners, such Emirats or Icelandair. As of right now, there’ve been no announcements from Alaska about any changes and we hope that Alaska doesn’t get rid of these non-alliance partnerships. 

How Will Joining Oneworld Alliance Impact Alaska Lounge access?

There are going to be some significant changes when it comes to Alaska’s lounge access both for Alaska’s elite members accessing partner airline lounges and other Oneworld elites accessing Alaska Lounges:

  • American AAdvantage Platinum members and above can now access Alaska Lounges when flying a Oneworld airline in most international markets
  • Oneworld Sapphire members and above can access Alaska Lounges when flying a Oneworld airline in any market (this includes domestic flights)
  • Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold members can now access all Oneworld Sapphire lounges (including American Admirals Clubs), and Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K members can now access all Oneworld Emerald lounges, when flying a Oneworld airline in most international markets

You Can Now Book Alaska Airlines Award Tickets on British Airways Website

British Airways is a long time partner of Alaska Airlines. However, up until a few days ago, British Airways members couldn’t redeem Avios for Alaska-operated flights online. You first had to find Alaska saver award space via another airline’s website and then call BA to book the award ticket. This was a cumbersome and time consuming process that often involved long hold times.

Thankfully that all changed on March 31, 2021, and you can now find and book Alaska’s flights online with Avios. To book Alaska Airlines tickets, you’ll first need to create a British Airways account. Once you have your account information, login and hover with your mouse over Book then click on Book a flight with Avios. 

You’ll search the same way you search for any other BA awards by entering your departure, destination and the dates. 

You should see the results on the next page. 

Click on your preferred flight and you should see the total mileage and taxes. 

BA used to exclude some partner award flights, so if you want to be absolutely sure that you are seeing all the flights, it might be worth cross-checking with another Oneworld partner, such as American Airlines or Qantas and then call BA to book. 

Why would you want to book Alaska flights with British Airways Avios? There are two main reasons for using Avios to book Alaska flights. One, BA has a distance-based award chart and you can book short flights under 651 miles in length for just 7,500 Avios and flights up to 1,151 miles for 9,000 Avios in economy. So in some cases you might be able to book Alaska flights for fewer miles than using Alaska’s own program. 

And finally, BA Avios are much easier to earn than Alaska miles. British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express and Marriott Bonvoy. You can also earn BA Avios by opening a British Airways Visa Signature® Card. And we’ve seen semi-frequent transfer bonuses from Amex to BA Avios in the past, which made Avios even easier to earn. Hopefully credit cards will keep offering these transfer bonuses when travel returns to normal. 

Alaska Mileage Plus miles, on the other hand, are much harder to earn. There are only two ways to earn Alaska miles without flying. One is by opening the Alaska Airlines personal credit card or the Alaska Airlines Business credit card. And the only other way to earn Alaska miles is by transferring Marriott Bonvoy points. The points transfer 3:1 with 5,000 miles bonus for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred. 

Final Thoughts

Alaska joining Oneworld doesn’t have immediate implications for travelers. As for the future of the program, we’ll reserve judgement until the new Oneworld award redemptions are rolled out in the summer. 

Right now, we should be able to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles on all Oneworld partners and vice versa and Alaska elite members can take advantage of all Oneworld elite perks. The ability to book Alaska flights with British Airway Avios online is definitely a step in the right direction. 

What are your thoughts on the recent developments and Alaska joining Oneworld? 

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