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

May 31, 2017

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“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.

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