Today, Alaska Airlines has officially joined the Oneworld alliance. For decades, Alaska has been known as the “non-alliance alliance” airline for its impressive list of airline partners. Alaska Airlines and Oneworld held a webinar this morning and here are the key takeaways from that meeting. Alaska Airlines is the second U. S. based carrier to join the Oneworld alliance.
The Attendees At The Webinar
The webinar was presented by Ben Minicucci who will succeed Brad Tilden as CEO at Alaska Airlines.
Other dignitaries included:
- Rob Gurney, CEO of oneworld,
- Robert Isom, President of American Airlines and
- Alan Joyce, CEO of QANTAS
The webinar had a brief announcement presentation anchored by Ben Minicucci and Rob Gurney. This was followed by a question and answer period that addressed more specific items that the new alliance membership brings.
Ben started out by talking about the smooth and seamless integration to align passengers within the Alaska Airlines route systems and the international destinations of the other member carriers. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will be able to credit their miles to their Alaska accounts. Redeeming miles on all oneworld member carriers will come later this summer.
“Joining oneworld is joining a family of the best airlines in the world,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska’s CEO. “Being a part of the alliance allows us to provide fantastic global connectivity, a seamless travel experience and more valuable loyalty offerings for our guests. This alliance transforms Alaska into a truly global airline, connecting our strong West Coast network and destinations across North America with the worldwide reach of our oneworld partners.”
“With Alaska Airlines now part of oneworld, we are excited to offer to customers even more destinations and flights, strengthened by Alaska’s leading network on the U.S. West Coast,” said oneworld CEO Rob Gurney, who joined Minicucci in Seattle for the event. “For oneworld top-tier customers, the joining of Alaska will provide even more opportunities for their status to be recognised as we look forward to a recovery in international travel.”
For Alaska and its guests, oneworld provides a global network of flights to as many as 1,000 destinations across more than 170 countries and territories*. With its membership in the alliance, Alaska will add seven new airline partners and enhance its six existing partnerships with oneworld members.
Flight connectivity becomes easier with Alaska’s membership in oneworld, especially on international bookings, which includes a long-standing partnership with American Airlines. American, a oneworld founding member, sponsored Alaska’s membership into the alliance.
“Alaska has been an outstanding partner to American for nearly 40 years and we’re excited to do even more together in the years to come,” said American Airlines President Robert Isom. “By connecting American’s strength in long-haul international flying and Alaska’s strong presence along the West Coast, we’re building a better network for our customers than either airline could build alone.”
Alaska Airlines elite members will now see their status carry over to the other oneworld members:
Alaska Airlines is growing the number of international destinations with seamless alliance flights from the following airports:
- Seattle Tacoma – seven international cities including new service from American Airlines to London, Shanghai, Bangalore and Qatar Airways to Doha,
- Los Angeles International Airport – 21 international destinations,
- San Francisco International Airport – 16 international destinations,
- San Jose, CA – eight international destinations and
- San Diego International Airport – eight international destinations.
In addition to seamless international travel, Alaska Airlines customers will have access to 650 oneworld airport lounges around the world.
Ben Minicucci praised the staff of Alaska Airlines in getting the oneworld system integration completed in just eight months.
Key Questions And Answers
Q: What changes will passengers see at the airport and online?
A: (Ben) Guests will now see the blue oneworld ball logo on both the Alaska Airlines website and phone app. The oneworld ball logo will also be seen at the ticket counters, terminal gates and jetways.
Q: What does Alaska Airlines bring to the alliance?
A: (Rob) Rob Gurney talked about increasing the oneworld traffic at Seattle Tacoma International Airport with the increasing number of international flights by American and Qatar. He went on to say that Alaska brings many of the same values that are already present in the oneworld alliance.
Q: What are the benefits for Alaska Airlines customers?
A: (Ben) Alaska Airlines customers will be able to seamlessly fly to over 1,000 destinations in over 170 countries. They will be able to earn and redeem miles among the alliance members as well as enjoy the elite status benefits with oneworld member airlines. Alaska customers will also have access to over 650 oneworld lounge around the world.
Q: Why join oneworld during the Covid-19 pandemic?
A: (Ben) Alaska Airlines has always been contrarian. The IT and Commerce Development departments at Alaska Airlines will be ready for the resumption of international air travel.
Q: What is the status of oneworld branded lounges?
A: (Rob) Moscow is to be the site of the first oneworld branded lounge. Construction of the Moscow lounge has been pushed back due to Covid-19. The oneworld alliance is in discussions with airports that have a high number of oneworld flights and that are currently underserved with airport lounges.
Q: Will JetBlue be joining the oneworld alliance?
A: (Rob) They have not been any discussion with JetBlue. One of the things that oneworld is concerned about when considering a new member is what value can that carrier bring to oneworld. Oneworld declines on commenting on airline discussions until an announcement is ready to be made.
Q: What is the plan for alliance members in regards to sustainability?
A: (Rob) The alliance is committed to a 2050 carbon reduction goal because it is the right thing to do. In September, 2020, ICAO established carbon reduction goals and oneworld’s sustainability group should have new developments in the next 12 months.
Q: Is Alaska Airlines joining the “net zero” pact?
A: (Ben) Alaska Airlines is committed to reducing its impact on the climate. The airline should be announcing their climate goals in the new three to four weeks.
Q: What is the biggest plus that Alaska Airlines brings to the oneworld alliance?
A: (Rob) Alaska Airlines brings chemistry and culture with shared values and alignment for strategic growth. The Alaska Airline route structure will add value to the alliance’s international capabilities.
Q: Will Alaska Airlines acquire wide-body aircraft?
A: (Ben) Alaska has no plans for acquiring wide-body aircraft. The airline is focused on Covid-19 recovery.
Q: What is the status of the new Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 100K top tier status?
A: (Ben) We will announce more about the 100k tier later this summer.
Q: Will Alaska Airlines still partner with oneworld connect member Fiji Airways?
A: (Ben) Alaska Airlines will continue to stay linked with Fiji Airways.
End of question and answer segment.
What We Don’t Know
There are some aspects of the alliance that was not answered. Some answers that I would have liked to know would be:
- Will there be changes to the redemption rate found in the current Alaska Airlines award charts?
- Will Alaska Airlines still have “award” charts?
- Will you still be able to book a stopover in each direction on one-way award redemptions? This is a unique feature with Alaska Airlines and can give you three cities for the price of one?
- When will the other airline’s award redemptions be bookable on the Alaska Airlines website?
- What are the details of the new MVP Gold 100K tier? Will 2021 be a qualifying year for the new status?
In the past, we have seen it take months for Alaska Airlines to include mileage redemptions for new partner airlines. I imagine that we won’t see fully bookable partner award redemptions until later this summer at the earliest.
So far, it looks like joining the oneworld alliance has plenty of benefits. At this time, we don’t know if there are any Mileage Plan devaluations from joining the alliance. We will have to wait and see for further developments in the oneworld alliance implementation.