Longtime airline partners Alaska Airlines and American Airlines were due to cut ties almost completely in March. But in a stunning reversal, the two carriers today announced a new partnership that should bring them closer than ever.
Alaska Airlines revealed today that it intends to join the Oneworld airline alliance by summer 2020, joining other carriers including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, among others. Alaska already partners with several of these international players, but the part that might impact U.S. fliers the most is that it should reinvigorate Alaska and American’s once-moribund partnership.
The two companies announced that they would continue their flight codesharing operations and expand them to include international routes from Los Angeles and Seattle. Loyalty members of Alaska Mileage Plan and American Advantage will also be able to take advantage of shared benefits with both airlines, including earning and redeeming frequent-flier miles on both carriers’ full networks, reciprocal elite status perks, and lounge access to American Admirals Clubs and Alaska Lounges in the U.S.
The move has shocked the aviation industry given the efforts Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have gone to in recent years to untangle their once-close relationship. But is perhaps an unsurprising response to recent moves by Delta.
Those have included creating a new hub in the Pacific Northwest at Seattle, which has traditionally been Alaska Airlines’ stronghold. Perhaps more significantly for American, Delta recently staked a major investment in South American behemoth LATAM. That set off a sequence of events including the imminent departure of LATAM from the Oneworld alliance and the near-complete severing of ties with its former close partner, American Airlines. Delta has also indicated it will focus its energy on creating a new hub at Miami to connect LATAM’s route network to and from the city with Delta’s own vast domestic route network.