Alaska Airlines is one step closer to becoming a formal member of the Oneworld alliance, receiving an official invitation from the aviation consortium to join its ranks on Thursday. Oneworld currently has 13 member airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas, among others.
Over the past several years, Alaska—long a dominant airline in the West Coast market—has grown to become a major national player. Its first industry-shaking move was acquiring Virgin America in 2016. In February 2020, the airline simultaneously announced a codesharing partnership with American (a Oneworld founding member) that provided shared benefits for members of both airlines’ loyalty programs, as well as its intention to join Oneworld by 2021.
The formal invitation from Oneworld moves that process forward, officially deeming Alaska a Oneworld member-elect. The airline is now on track to join the alliance within six to 12 months, provided it meets all the membership criteria and can come to agreements with the 13 current member airlines.
“We are delighted to welcome Alaska Airlines into Oneworld,” said Alan Joyce, Oneworld Governing Board Chairman and Qantas Group CEO, in a statement. “With its strong position in the U.S. West Coast and its partnership with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines will be a great asset to Oneworld, positioning us to deliver even more value to our member airlines and customers.”
When Alaska officially becomes a Oneworld member, passengers flying on the airline will be able to easily book flights to any destination within the alliance’s global network. Its membership will also add 34 new destinations in the western U.S. to that global network.
Benefits will also increase greatly for Alaska’s Mileage Plan members: travelers with elite status on the airline will now have access to more than 650 airport lounges around the world, plus reciprocal earning and spending when it comes to frequent flyer miles.
“Oneworld will open up a tremendous international network for our business and leisure travelers when they’re ready to start flying overseas again, in addition to greater connectivity around the U.S. through our network for international visitors,” said Brad Tilden, chairman and CEO of Alaska Airlines, in a statement. “We’re eager to build deeper ties with the six Oneworld members we already cooperate with, and looking forward to working with new partners that are some of the best airlines in the world."