Alaska Airlines is offering double award miles, priority services, and access to British Airways’ Galleries Lounge at Heathrow T5. This is for a limited time through September 30, 2015, although I have suspicions it will be extended or renewed in some form. You must register first to qualify.
Between now and then, MVP Gold and MVP 75K elite members will receive the following:
- Club World business class check-in at Seattle and Heathrow.
- Fast Track security screening at Heathrow.
- Access to the Galleries business class lounge at Heathrow T5.
Note the many exclusions here. No benefits for MVP members (although not surprising since lower tier members at other airlines often don’t receive much when traveling on alliance partners). No Club World priority when you travel British Airways on a route other than Seattle-London. No access to other British Airways lounges, including their locations at Seattle and Heathrow T3.
The perks you do receive would normally come with a Club World ticket, so this promotion is essentially aimed at frequent flyers who are booked into economy or premium economy. (Bonus miles still apply to all cabins.) You’ll need to register and credit your flight to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to qualify — not British Airways Executive Club or American AAdvantage. That could be a problem if you’re used to having alliance benefits with those programs, but I suspect that Alaska is looking to make their benefits permanent in the future.
Alaska presumably compensates British Airways for offering more perks to its members, and the existing traffic from oneworld Alliance carriers means it isn’t easy for BA to offer them. The lounges and Fast Track lines are already pretty busy. Compare that to previous announcements on elite benefits for travelers flying with Icelandair and Emirates. It’s better for Alaska to grow slowly when it comes to British Airways rather than open with a splash and cut back later. The bonus miles make up for the temporary commitment.
Either way, it shows that Alaska Airlines is moving to expand and strengthen their partner relationships. Without the formal arrangements provided by an alliance it needs to negotiate each deal separately, and that will likely take some time and experimentation.