How Do I Get My Elite Benefits on an Alliance Partner Airline?

May 31, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

TPG reader Mauricio has elite status with American and wants to know how he can get the matching benefits on an AA partner, as he explained in a Facebook message…

I’m a AAdvantage Platinum elite member and I want to buy tickets on British Airways. How can I get Oneworld benefits as a Sapphire member on these tickets?

TPG Reader Mauricio

All three of the US legacy airlines — American, Delta and United — are members of alliances consisting of a variety of international carriers. As a result, when you have elite status on one of those three US airlines, you also get elite status in the alliance as well.

The level of status in the alliance depends on your elite level in your US airline. Here’s how the tiers break down between each airline and its respective alliance:

American Gold Platinum Platinum Pro Executive Platinum
Oneworld Ruby Sapphire Sapphire Emerald


Delta Silver Gold Platinum Diamond
SkyTeam Elite Elite Plus Elite Plus Elite Plus


United Silver Gold Platinum 1K
Star Alliance Silver Gold Gold Gold

Each tier in each alliance offers a slightly different mix of benefits, but usually you’ll get some version of advance seat selection, free checked bags, priority check-in, priority boarding and so on. So there’s definitely value in the alliance elite perks.

The question is, how do you let the alliance airline know about your status? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. In fact, usually it’s just a matter of adding the frequent flyer number of the airline you got your status on to your reservation on the partner airline.


In other words, when Mauricio is booking British Airways flights, he’ll want to enter his American AAdvantage account number in the frequent flyer field. By doing so, British Airways should automatically recognize his Oneworld Sapphire elite status thanks to his American Platinum status and grant him the appropriate benefits, along with indicating his alliance status on his boarding pass.

While you’re traveling, it also doesn’t hurt to carry with you your physical elite status card from your US airline, which also shows your alliance status on it. While having a boarding pass indicating you’re an alliance elite will usually keep things moving, in some cases when your alliance status grants you access to partner lounges, having your card with you can make entry to those lounges a bit smoother.

Finally, if you have any problems with a partner airline honoring your status, just call the airline or speak to an agent at the airport and explain the situation. Again, if you’re already traveling, it helps to have your elite status card with you to prove your elite level.

Enjoy your Oneworld Sapphire status, Mauricio, and thanks for the question. If you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook  or email us at

Featured image courtesy of Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card

This card from Bank of America gets really interesting if you have a BofA checking, savings or investment account. Depending on the value of your combined accounts you can potentially get as much as 3.5x points on travel/dining and 2.625x points on other purchases making it the richest consumer banking bonus out there.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.