5 things to do this month before Alaska Airlines joins Oneworld
After years of anticipation, the day is almost here: Alaska is finally joining the Oneworld alliance on Mar. 31, 2021.
With this joining, Alaska Airlines elites will have access to new benefits and airline partners. Likewise, Oneworld loyalists will have access to Alaska Airlines flights, like earning their preferred mileage currency on Alaska flights.
There are a few important things both Alaska elites and other Oneworld elites should do before Alaska officially joins the alliance at the end of the month. This will help you get the most out of your elite status and ensure you’re earning the most miles possible on your upcoming Oneworld flights.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to do before Alaska joins Oneworld later this month.
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Get familiar with Alaska’s Oneworld timeline
While Alaska may be joining Oneworld later this month, not all of the benefits will come immediately.
Alaska’s Oneworld membership will roll out over the course of this year. Later this month, the first phase will begin. This includes reciprocal mileage earning on all Oneworld airlines and reciprocal Oneworld elite status benefits (more on that soon). It also means Oneworld lounge access for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members — arguably the most exciting benefit for Alaska elites.
Over the summer, we’ll see Alaska add mileage redemption for all Oneworld partners. It’s not clear why this is rolling out over the summer, but the airline likely needs more time to prepare awards charts and other specifics. That said, you can continue to redeem with Oneworld members like British Airways and Cathay Pacific that are already Alaska partners before the rest of Oneworld rolls out.
Know your new Oneworld Elite status benefits
One of the most exciting parts about Alaska joining Oneworld is reciprocal elite benefits.
Alaska elites will get a suite of Oneworld status benefits when Alaska becomes a Oneworld member. Each Alaska status tier is assigned an equivalent Oneworld status tier. Here’s a look at the breakdown:
- MVP: Oneworld Ruby
- MVP Gold: Oneworld Sapphire
- MVP Gold 75K: Oneworld Emerald
On the low-end, Oneworld Ruby includes a handful of benefits like priority waitlisting, boarding and preferred seating. Oneworld Sapphire, on the other hand, has more tangible benefits like first-class lounge access, fast-track security at some airports and priority baggage.
Here’s a look at the full suite of benefits included with each tier:
Alaska and American Airlines will also roll out additional reciprocal benefits later this year. This includes
- Complimentary upgrades on domestic American flights (MVP Gold/MVP Gold 75K)
- Long-haul upgrades (MVP Gold 75K)
These benefits will be super powerful when they launch later this year. Full details have yet to be announced, so stay tuned to TPG for more information. Rest assured that we’ll let you know as soon as we hear more.
Add your Mileage Plan number to existing bookings
These benefits are great, but you can only use them if you attach your Mileage Plan number to your ticket.
Check all of your existing Oneworld bookings and make sure your Mileage Plan number is added as your frequent flyer program. Without this, you won’t have access to your newfound Oneworld benefits or earn Alaska miles on your flights. Don’t worry — we’ll discuss crediting partner flights to Alaska more in-depth later in this article.
Other Oneworld elites will enjoy benefits on Alaska Airlines
Of course, if you have Oneworld status with another airline, you can add your frequent flyer number to any future Alaska flights and enjoy the Oneworld status benefits you’re entitled to. For example, a British Airways Gold member will have first-class lounge access and preferred seating on future Alaska flights.
Take a look at your new lounge options
When Alaska joins Oneworld later this month, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members will have access to all Oneworld lounges around the world. This includes American Admirals Clubs, British Airways Galleries lounges, and others — even when flying in economy.
MVP Gold members will access business class lounges, while MVP Gold 75K members can access first-class lounges, like The Wing and The Pier in Hong Kong (HKG). You can view all lounge options on the Oneworld website.
It’s unclear if Alaska elites can access these lounges when flying domestically on Alaska or American flights. That said, we expect Alaska to follow American’s lead and only grant Alaska Lounge and Admirals Club access to elites flying internationally. This has yet to be confirmed, so we’re holding out hope for the best.
Regardless, this will be a huge perk for elites. Make sure your Mileage Plan number is added to your ticket for access.
It’s also worth noting that other Oneworld elites will be able to access Alaska Lounges once Alaska becomes a Oneworld member.
See if it makes sense to credit flights to Alaska
If you’re a frequent or not-so-frequent Oneworld flyer, it’s worth checking Alaska’s earning rates for Oneworld partner flights.
We value Alaska Mileage Plan miles at 1.8 cents apiece, making them the most valuable airline miles per our valuations. This is because of the airline’s vast number of partners, solid redemption rates and ability to add a stopover on all one-way itineraries. This partner list will grow with its Oneworld membership and — barring any major devaluations — is set to help Mileage Plan miles become even more valuable.
Because of this, you may want to consider crediting future Oneworld flights to Mileage Plan.
You can view earning rates for existing partners on the airline’s partner page on Alaska’s website. Other Oneworld airlines should have their earnings rates added once Alaska officially joins Oneworld.
Here’s a look at Alaska’s American Airlines earning chart.
To find how many Alaska miles you’ll earn, find your booking class (usually located on your e-ticket) and match it to its respective line on the earning chart. Then, multiply the physical miles flown by the percentage listed on the award chart.
For example, say you’re flying American from New York-JFK to London-Heathrow (LHR) in W fare premium economy. This fare class earns 110% redeemable and elite qualifying miles per the award chart. The flight is 3,451 miles long, so you’d earn 3,796 miles flown without elite status. This is worth $68.33 per our valuations.
On the other hand, say this flight costs $700 one-way before taxes and fees. A non-elite member crediting to American Airlines AAdvantage would earn 5x miles per dollar spent, giving you 3,500 miles. TPG values American miles at 1.4 cents per mile, giving you a $49 return for this particular flight.
This won’t be the case for every Oneworld flight you credit to Alaska, but it’s worth keeping in mind. I plan to credit all of my Oneworld flights to Alaska since I don’t have Oneworld elite status and highly value Alaska miles. Do the math and see what works best for your situation.
Alternatively, credit your Alaska flights to another Oneworld program
If you don’t want to switch to Mileage Plan, you can start crediting your Alaska flights to another Oneworld program starting later this month. In doing this, you’ll earn redeemable and elite status qualifying miles with your favorite Oneworld partner. This can be a huge benefit for those who occasionally fly to Alaska hubs and fly the airline.
Request an elite status match
Finally, consider matching your current airline elite status to Alaska Airlines. The airline offers a generous status challenge to travelers who have existing status with other American, Canadian and Mexican airlines.
Once approved for the challenge, you’re granted Alaska status for 90 days. You can extend this status by flying a set number of times on Alaska Airlines within this period. The amount you’ll have to fly depends on your matched elite status.
The airline is also offering a special status match offer to Delta, Southwest and United elites. Elites in these programs who earned their status by flying can match to Alaska status instantly through the end of the year with no flying requirements. Plus, the airline offers these members a 50% bonus on elite qualifying miles earned through the end of the year.
This status match offer is only available for a limited time. Make sure to check out our full guide to Alaska status challenges and status matches for information on both of these offers. This includes requirements and how long matched status is valid.
Alaska Airlines’ impending Oneworld membership is great news for Alaska flyers. It’ll give you more ways to earn and redeem Alaska miles, and for elites, bring a slew of new status benefits. This will ultimately help Alaska expand its reach and become a larger, more global airline in the years to come.
Here, I showed you everything you need to do before Alaska’s Oneworld membership is official. The most important thing to do for Alaska elites is to become familiar with your new benefits and add your Mileage Plan number to future Oneworld bookings. For everyone else, consider crediting your Oneworld flights to Alaska and — if you’re really impressed — request a status match to take advantage of these new elite status perks.
Feature photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
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