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American Airlines teases reciprocal upgrades on Alaska, JetBlue as partnerships move forward

Nov. 17, 2020
3 min read
JetBlue A321 & American A321T at LAX
American Airlines teases reciprocal upgrades on Alaska, JetBlue as partnerships move forward
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American Airlines is doing something few U.S. domestic airlines have done in the past. Instead of growing to capture a market, the carrier is partnering with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways to bolster its position on the West Coast and in the Northeast.

American and Alaska will partner on the West Coast, feeding each others flights primarily at Los Angeles (LAX) and Seattle (SEA). The pact with JetBlue covers the Northeast, focusing on bolstering each airline's competitive position in Boston (BOS) and New York.

While we know both tie ups include codeshares that will add flight options for travelers, American's chief revenue officer Vasu Raja said Tuesday that the pact could also include reciprocal upgrades for each carrier's elite frequent flyers, among other benefits.

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“Your frequent flyer benefits as an executive platinum member on American Airlines can extend to another carrier," he said at the Bernstein Operational Decisions Conference.

Details of such flyer-friendly benefits could come in the next few weeks, he said without providing a definitive timeline.

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The partnerships are just one example of how air travel is being reshaped during the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis has opened some previously off-limits airports, including Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Los Angeles (LAX), to new competition. At the same time, airlines are trying out routes outside their pre-pandemic wheelhouse, like United Airlines adding more than 17 new nonstop offerings to Florida this winter.

Related: American, JetBlue plan ‘slot moves’ at New York JFK and LaGuardia

American and Alaska began offering reciprocal frequent flyer point and elite status credit earning in April. And Seattle-based Alaska aims to become a full member of the Oneworld alliance alongside American on March 31. That will give both airlines' elite flyers complete access to lounges and other perks.

American's pact with JetBlue is not as far along. Unveiled in July, the tie-up is awaiting sign off from U.S. authorities to avoid running afoul of antitrust laws. In addition to codeshares on Boston and New York flights, executives at both carriers have suggested that American could transfer some slots used for shorter flights at JFK and LaGuardia (LGA) airports to JetBlue for use under the partnership.

Ultimately, all three airlines see the tie ups as a way to bolster their competitive positions. Also on Tuesday, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said the pact with American would create a third large rival to Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in the northeast. Delta maintains hubs in Boston and at New York's JFK and LaGuardia airports, and United at Newark (EWR) airport.

More details on the American-JetBlue pact are expected once regulators sign off.

Related: Budget airlines muscle into big airports as coronavirus creates new opportunities

Featured image by (Photo by Ryan Patterson)

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees