SEATTLE – Alaska Airlines (AS) has today officially joined the oneworld alliance, becoming the 14th full member of the global alliance, offering customers access to over 1000 destinations in 170 countries.

For the first time in the Seattle based airline’s 89-year history, the airline joined an alliance just eight months after having accepted its formal invitation in July of 2020. 

“Joining oneworld is joining a family of the best airlines in the world,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska’s CEO. “Being a part of the alliance allows us to provide fantastic global connectivity, a seamless travel experience, and more valuable loyalty offerings for our guests. This alliance transforms Alaska into a truly global airline, connecting our strong West Coast network and destinations across North America with the worldwide reach of our oneworld partners.”

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing global pandemic, AS, along with other oneworld members had to host a virtual press event to celebrate the historic day. However, employees, including flight attendants and CEOs from all of the oneworld alliance airlines partook in the celebration by doing the infamous Alaska Safety Dance routine that the airline launched in a new ad campaign back in January to help try to relaunch air travel within the United States. 

“With Alaska Airlines now part of oneworld, we are excited to offer to customers even more destinations and flights, strengthened by Alaska’s leading network on the U.S. West Coast,” said oneworld CEO Rob Gurney, who joined Minicucci in Seattle for the event. “For oneworld top-tier customers, the joining of Alaska will provide even more opportunities for their status to be recognized as we look forward to a recovery in international travel.”

In total, AS adds seven new airline partners to its world famous mileage plan and enhances its partnership with six airlines that the carrier already worked with who are also a part of oneworld. 

“We’re delighted to welcome Alaska to the oneworld family. As the industry recovers from COVID, airline alliances are going to be more important than ever. Alaska will be an asset to the alliance, positioning oneworld to deliver even more value to our customers and member airlines,” said oneworld Governing Board Chairman and Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Loyalty and Alliance Benefits

Alaska’s elite Mileage Plan members automatically receive matching oneworld tier status:

MVP Gold 75Koneworld Emerald
MVP Goldoneworld Sapphire
MVPoneworld Ruby

Depending on tier status, passengers can enjoy a variety of perks, including access to more than 650 international first and business class lounges, fast track security, and priority baggage benefits.

Guests with Emerald, Sapphire, or Ruby status in any oneworld member airline’s frequent flyer program will be able to use priority check-in desks where available. Also, guests with Emerald or Sapphire status will be offered priority boarding.

“If you’ve been a frequent flier who has earned status with us, all that loyalty will go even further with benefits in oneworld to make your journey even more enjoyable,” said Minicucci.

Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

The Battle for Seattle

What does this mean for Seattle where Alaska has been in an ongoing seven-year turf war with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines (DL)? The competition began when AS decided they did not want to have any kind of exclusive partnership but rather wanted to keep the advantages it had for its customers with the airline’s mileage plan.

It opens a whole new realm of possibilities as the carrier will work more with American Airlines (AA), already having announced several big plans for Seattle, including new daily service to London Heathrow using Boeing 777-200ERs.

Additionally, AA will be moving its Shanghai flight from Los Angeles to Seattle. It will also add a new service to Bangalore, India, both to be operated using Boeing 787-9s. Together, Alaska and American can team up to give DL its first legitimate challenge since dubbing itself as “Seattle’s Global Airline” in previous ad campaigns.

“Alaska has been an outstanding partner to American for nearly 40 years and we’re excited to do even more together in the years to come,” said American Airlines President Robert Isom. “By connecting American’s strength in long-haul international flying and Alaska’s strong presence along the West Coast, we’re building a better network for our customers than either airline could build alone.”

Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

The Oneworld Connection

With Alaska joining oneworld, Seattle is already seeing new partners start flights into SeaTac, such as Qatar Airways in January with nonstop service from Doha with the Boeing 777-300ER.

They are the first to launch a new service into the Emerald City and it would not be the least bit surprising if some other alliance partners didn’t also start new services here with the passenger feed that is able to be supplied by AS. 

The 14 full members of oneworld are: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines.

Fiji Airways is a oneworld connect partner offering select alliance benefits to frequent flyers from any oneworld member airline traveling on their flights. Those in bold currently operate flight to and from Seattle.

Unfortunately, while Cathay Pacific started service to Seattle in April of 2019, due to the global pandemic, SeaTac was one of the three US routes the Hong Kong-based carrier cut. 

This wraps up what was a very busy news month for Alaska that started back on the first when the carrier put its first Boeing 737-9 MAX into service. Since then all four have been officially put into service and having been tracking them all month it appears they have had no major delays or cancellations thus far marking March 2021 a very successful month following how bad 2020 went. 

Featured Image: Brandon Farris/Airways