Alaska Airlines is joining the oneworld airline alliance as part of a new agreement with American Airlines to strengthen their relationship on the West Coast. Plans call for Alaska Airlines to join oneworld by 2021, which American says will connect Alaska Airlines guests to more than 1,200 destinations worldwide, as well as offer reciprocal benefits to Alaskan Airlines travelers on other member airlines, such as priority check-in and boarding, access to preferred seats and free checked bags.
As part of the new agreement between American and Alaska Airlines, American will also launch a part of new routes: its first service from Seattle to Bangalore, India, beginning October 2020, and a new route between Seattle and London Heathrow in March 2021. Both airlines will continue their domestic codeshare, and they will expand their codeshare to include international routes out of Los Angeles and Seattle.
Ralph Hollister, a travel and tourism analyst with GlobalData, notes that the move could allow American Airlines to compete more effectively with Delta, particularly in Delta’s Seattle hub.
“After Delta recently acquired a 20 percent stake in American’s long-time South American partner LATAM Airlines, American’s extended partnership with Alaska allows the airline to increase its presence in Seattle, a stronghold of Delta’s,” Hollister said. “Delta has been aggressively expanding at Seattle in recent years, driven by the addition of new domestic destinations as well as more flights and larger aircraft operating between existing routes.”
Hollister noted that Delta does not operate the new Seattle – Bangalore route, making that new flight potentially a key benefit of the new deal for American. At the same time, he warned that India is still a developing market, which means that the new route could fall prey to overcapacity, as demand for it is still relatively unknown.
“As well as a new flight to London Heathrow, this could signal further American expansion from Seattle for long haul flights, with Alaska providing domestic feeder routes,” Hollister said. “If this codeshare partnership continues to evolve and is successful, there is a possibility that American may consider the acquisition of Alaska Airlines, so it can gain full control of the domestic and international network.”
Bookings for the new flight to Bangalore will open later this month, while bookings for the new flight to Heathrow will open in May 2021.
Additionally, Alaska and American loyalty members will enjoy benefits across both airlines, including the ability to earn and use miles on both airlines’ full networks, elite status reciprocity and lounge access to nearly 50 American Admirals Club lounges worldwide and seven Alaska Lounges in the U.S.