This US carrier will join the smallest of the world’s major three alliances in mid-2021. In this guide, I take a look at how Qantas members can take advantage of this expanded partnership.

This announcement comes after news that African airline Royal Air Maroc will also join the alliance in April. However, South American carrier LATAM will leave in May.

Where does Alaska Airlines fly?

Alaska Airlines is a US airline focussed mainly on flights within North America. Among their furthest destinations are Alaska, Canada, Costa Rica, Hawaii and Mexico.

Alaska Airlines First Class | Point Hacks
Alaska Airlines sits around the middle of the pack in my ranking of US domestic airlines

What is Qantas & Alaska Airlines’ current partnership?

You can already earn and redeem Qantas Points on Alaska Airlines flights. However, you cannot earn Status Credits when flying Alaska.

Alaska Airlines First Class
You can already earn and redeem Qantas Points for travel on Alaska Airlines

Conversely, you can earn and redeem Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles on Qantas flights. A highlight is 55,000 miles for a one-way Business Class flight from Australia to the US. Domestic Australian flights in Business Class are priced at 20,000 miles, regardless of distance.

Qantas elite status members

Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members currently enjoy limited lounge access. They can access only Alaska’s lounges in Anchorage, Los Angeles (also a Priority Pass lounge), Portland and Seattle when travelling on an Alaska flight and connecting to or from an international Qantas flight.

When is Alaska Airlines joining oneworld?

Alaska Airlines is slated to join the oneworld alliance in mid-2021. This date could be moved forward or back. It generally takes 12-18 months for an airline to join or leave an alliance.

What does this mean for Qantas members?

As is the case when Qantas members fly other oneworld carriers like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, I would expect those members to be able to earn Status Credits on Alaska Airlines flights.

Also, they should be able to include Alaska flights in a round-the-world trip using Qantas Points.

Alaska Airlines First Class | Point Hacks
Given that Alaska does not have any lie-flat seat in Business Class, you’d probably prefer to fly them only on shorter routes and opt for American Airlines for longer ones

Qantas elite status members

Qantas Silver and above members will get additional checked baggage allowances.

Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members will gain access to Alaska lounges before all Alaska flights, regardless of whether they’re connecting to/from an international Qantas flight. They’ll also be able to access all lounges locations, not just at the four airports listed above. That will expand to include New York JFK and San Francisco (new lounge opening this year).

Qantas elites will also be able to access other oneworld alliance members’ lounges before Alaska flights. These are most likely to be American Airlines lounges.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge invitation
American Airlines Flagship Lounge invitation

My tip will be to go to the American Airlines Flagship Lounges before an Alaska Airlines flight departing from big airports like Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New York JFK.

What does this mean for Alaska members?

If you have access to Mileage Plan miles, then you’ll be able to use them on all oneworld airlines, on all routes. Right now, you can already use your Alaska miles for travel on about half of oneworld airlines. The ones that are not currently included are Iberia, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.

Qantas plane
Currently, you can’t use Mileage Plan miles to fly Qantas to Asia

The routes you can use your Alaska miles when flying partners is currently restricted. For example, you can only use your miles for Qantas flights within Australia and to North America. With this change, you’ll also be able to redeem your miles on Qantas flights to Asia, Europe, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, South America and South Africa.

Summing up: my take

The addition of Alaska Airlines to the oneworld alliance is overwhelmingly positive news for Qantas Frequent Flyers. Elite status members will be the biggest winners, with improved lounge access and priority benefits. All members will probably be able to earn Status Credits on Alaska Airlines flights.

For those with Mileage Plan miles, it could be more mixed. A positive is that they’ll have more opportunities to use their miles on all routes with all oneworld airlines. However, the program currently has three benefits which could be curtailed:

  1. Redemption rates are likely to increase: Mileage Plan is currently one of the more generous of all programs but will have less of an incentive to be so
  2. Free stopover on one-way awards could disappear: this unique benefit is unlikely to last as most other oneworld partners do not offer it (an exception is Asia Miles)
  3. Reduction in non-oneworld partnerships: Mileage Plan may be forced to sever ties with airlines from other alliances, such as Singapore Airlines and Korean Air

My advice is that if you have Mileage Plan miles and want to take advantage of their attractive redemption rates and free stopover, that you do so sooner rather than later.

This guide takes a look at the oneworld alliance, focusing on its carriers that fly into Australia and their respective frequent flyer programs.

What is oneworld?

The oneworld alliance is one of three major global airline alliances, alongside Star Alliance, which is indirectly linked to Virgin Australia’s Velocity program through its reciprocal points transfer partnership with Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer and the SkyTeam alliance.

oneworld | Point Hacks
oneworld members

The alliance currently includes 13 member airlines, 9 of which fly into Australia and are highlighted in bold:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM (leaving the alliance on 1 May 2020)
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

Note that Royal Air Maroc will be joining the oneworld alliance on 1 April 2020, opening up a number of African destinations that has until now been missing from the oneworld network.

Alaska Airlines will also join, in mid-2021.

Spanish airline Air Europa may join oneworld in the second half of 2020. That’s if the purchase of the carrier by International Airlines Group (owner of British Airways and Iberia) is approved by regulators.

oneworld also launched oneworld connect in 2018 as a way for smaller airlines to join the alliance. Currently only Fiji Airways is the member.

oneworld frequent flyers are able to earn miles and status credits when flying with different oneworld airlines in the same reservation. The alliance spans across 1,012 destinations in 158 countries, so there is plenty of opportunity to earn and redeem miles as well as earning status credits with a oneworld alliance program.

Elite members of each oneworld alliance frequent flyer program enjoy premium benefits, offered under the ‘oneworld Priority’ moniker. There are 3 tiers within the oneworld Priority, and they correspond to a particular status level with each oneworld airline.

The three tiers are:

  • oneworld Ruby
  • oneworld Sapphire
  • oneworld Emerald

For example, with Qantas Frequent Flyer, Ruby corresponds to the Silver status level, Sapphire to the Gold status level, and Emerald to Platinum and Platinum One status levels. These vary by airline, and the oneworld tier corresponding to other oneworld airlines can be found at here.

With oneworld Priority, eligible frequent flyers are able to access the following benefits when traveling with any oneworld alliance airline in any travel class. These include:

oneworld Ruby, oneworld Sapphire and oneworld Emerald members

  • Access to priority Business Class check-in
  • Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating
  • Priority on waitlists or on standby

oneworld Sapphire and oneworld Emerald members

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Extra baggage allowance
  • Access to International Business Class lounges

oneworld Emerald members

  • Access to priority First Class check-in
  • Fast track at security lines
  • Access to International First Class lounges

Further information can be found here.

To enjoy the benefits of a oneworld alliance frequent flyer program, you will need to join a member airline’s individual program. There is no universal oneworld alliance frequent flyer program and unlike the competitor alliances, there are no dedicated oneworld lounges. Instead, each of the member airlines run their own lounges, and in some cases, join forces to run a combined lounge, such as the oneworld Business Lounge at LAX, run by American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Qantas and Qatar Airways.

Key oneworld Lounges

oneworld Lounges

Both Star Alliance and SkyTeam operate combined lounges in some airports around the world. They tend to be where none of their member airlines have hubs. An example is the Star Alliance Lounge in Rome and the SkyTeam Lounge in Sydney.

oneworld intends to do the same. The first airport they will construct a oneworld-branded lounge will be at Moscow Domodedovo Airport. More details will come in 2020.

Qantas International First Lounge, Sydney

Considered not just one of the best lounges in Australia but one of the best in the world, the Qantas International First Lounge in Sydney is available to all oneworld First Class passengers, in addition to Platinum One, Platinum and oneworld Emerald frequent flyers.

Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney | Point Hacks

A full review of the lounge can be found here.

oneworld Los Angeles Business Lounge, Los Angeles

This lounge is operated by Qantas in partnership with British Airways and Cathay Pacific and is most useful for Australia-based travellers returning from the US or The Americas on a Qantas, American Airlines or other oneworld flight.

oneworld Los Angeles Business Lounge | Point Hacks

A full review of the lounge can be found here.

Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge, Hong Kong

This is definitely a must-visit lounge if are in Hong Kong and are lucky enough to have access. The stylish lounge comes equipped with a full bar, shower suites, spa and yoga and meditation space.

Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge Hong Kong | Point Hacks

A full review of the lounge can be found here.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge, Miami

Flagship Lounges are American Airlines top-range lounges, being a step up from the traditional Admirals Club lounges after having been refurbished in recent years. The lounge includes a great range of hot food and salads, a self-service bar and ultra-fast wifi.

American Airlines Miami Lounge | Point Hacks

A full review of the lounge can be found here.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge, Doha

One of the most picturesque lounges in the world, this lounge is so large that you actually need to ask staff for assistance just to get to where you want to go. With the vastness in space, along with incredibly high ceilings, this definitely makes it a unique lounge in the world and well worth checking out for this reason alone.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge | Point Hacks

A full review of the lounge can be found here.

How to earn oneworld points?

oneworld alliance points can be earned directly with any oneworld member airline through flying or their respective air and ground partners. Of the nine oneworld airlines that fly to Australia, only Qantas offers direct-earn credit cards.

However, a few other oneworld airlines offer you the ability to indirectly earn miles through utilising flexible rewards programs such as American Express and Marriott Bonvoy. These include Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Malaysia Airlines Enrich.

Which are the best oneworld frequent flyer programs for Australia-based travellers?

It should be no surprise that Qantas Frequent Flyer would be on the top of this list, given it is Australia’s flag carrier and the airline offering the most flights in and out of Australia, in addition to its extensive domestic network. However, there are oneworld frequent flyer programs that can offer exceptional value depending on which route you are looking to redeem on.

For example, American Airlines AAdvantage program offers excellent redemption value for domestic and Trans-Tasman Business Class redemptions on Qantas, Business Class to Fiji on Fiji Airways, or to Asia on oneworld partners.

The easiest way to earn AAdvantage miles is through purchasing miles during bonus points promotions, which occur frequently.

British Airways Avios can be handy frequent flyer program to have, as it provides fantastic value for short- and medium-haul Business Class redemptions. That includes Qantas within Australia, American Airlines within the US, and Business Class on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines intra-Asia.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can also prove to be better value than Qantas Frequent Flyer on certain Qantas operated routes, so this could also be a good program to enrol in.

Also note that both Qantas and Asia Miles offer competitive oneworld RTW (round-the-world) award tickets. Further information for RTW award redemptions can be found here for Qantas and here for Asia Miles.

Also make sure to take note of the different expiration policies for each oneworld program, some of which can be found here.

How to search for oneworld availability can be used to search for availability on Qantas and its oneworld partners, including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways, in addition to its other partner airlines such as Jetstar, Emirates and Fiji Airways.

British Airways is also another reliable source for finding seats on most oneworld airlines.

For further information on finding award flights, click here. If you want to start from city that does not appear on the Qantas website, check out our guide here.

Summing up

oneworld is the natural alliance for a Australia-based travellers given the membership of Qantas. However, it may pay to be in a number of oneworld frequent flyer programs in order to take advantage of excellent pricing on specific routes from certain oneworld programs.

A strength of oneworld is that it offers a number of airlines where points or miles can be easily earned through non-airline partners such as hotel chains and financial lenders. These include Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines, with the former being dominant in the Australian market, where you can even earn points in your sleep!.

Other alliances relevant to travellers based in Australia

Featured image courtesy of oneworld.

Alaska Airlines to join oneworld alliance: what does this mean for Qantas members? was last modified: February 17th, 2020 by Matt Moffitt