Exploring the Benefits and Importance of Airline Alliances
Issue #19-23 features a look at the world of airline alliances and how you can leverage the benefits to optimize your airlines miles for seamless global travel
Airline Alliance Showdown: SkyTeam vs OneWorld vs Star Alliance
Airlines alliances are partnerships between airlines that allow them to share resources and offer passengers a wider range of travel options.
Benefits of airline alliances for frequent fliers include:
Airline alliances offer a wider range of routes and destinations than any single airline. This means that you're more likely to find a flight that meets your needs, especially for multi-city itineraries and finding value when booking award flights using miles.
Airline alliances often offer codeshare flights, which means that you can book a single ticket that includes multiple flights operated by different airlines.
This can make your travel experience more convenient, as you don't have to worry about transferring between airlines or dealing with different check-in procedures.
This also comes in handy when redeeming airlines miles, as different member airlines may have different award pricing, availability and ability to book other alliance members using partner awards.
Airline alliances often offer additional benefits to their members, such as lounge access, priority boarding, and free checked bags.
If you have airlines status with one member airline, you’ll gain access to the alliance partners loyalty status as well, which can mean free checked luggage, lounge access, priority boarding and other value-added benefits.
In a nutshell, airline alliances are important because they expand the reach of airlines, simplify travel planning, and offer rewards and perks for frequent flyers.
There are three major airline alliances in the world and include Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam.
Star Alliance: Aegean Airlines (Greece), Air Canada (Canada), Air China (China), Air India (India), Air New Zealand (New Zealand), All Nippon Airways (ANA) (Japan), Asiana Airlines (South Korea), Austrian Airlines (Austria), Avianca (Colombia), Brussels Airlines (Belgium), Copa Airlines (Panama), Croatia Airlines (Croatia), EgyptAir (Egypt), Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopia), EVA Air (Taiwan), LOT Polish Airlines (Poland), Lufthansa (Germany), Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) (Sweden, Norway, Denmark), Shenzhen Airlines (China), Singapore Airlines (Singapore), South African Airways (South Africa), SWISS (Switzerland), TAP Air Portugal (Portugal), Thai Airways (Thailand), Turkish Airlines (Turkey), United Airlines (United States)
Oneworld: Alaska Airlines (United States), American Airlines (United States), British Airways (United Kingdom), Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong), Finnair (Finland), Iberia (Spain), Japan Airlines (Japan), Malaysia Airlines (Malaysia), Qantas (Australia), Qatar Airways (Qatar), Royal Air Maroc (Morocco), Royal Jordanian (Jordan), SriLankan Airlines (Sri Lanka), Fiji Airways (Fiji), Oman Air (Oman)
SkyTeam: Aerolineas Argentinas (Argentina), Aeromexico (Mexico), Air Europa (Spain), Air France (France), China Airlines (Taiwan), China Eastern Airlines (China), Czech Airlines (Czech Republic), Delta Air Lines (United States), Garuda Indonesia (Indonesia), ITA Airways (Italy), Kenya Airways (Kenya), KLM (Netherlands), Korean Air (South Korea), Middle East Airlines (Lebanon), Saudia (Saudi Arabia), TAROM (Romania), Vietnam Airlines (Vietnam), Virgin Atlantic (United Kingdom), XiamenAir (China)
Notable airlines that are not a part of any alliance include: Emirates, Etihad, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Qatar Airways & Virgin Australia
As you can see, each alliance has a different number of member airlines with Star Alliance being the largest alliance, followed by SkyTeam and Oneworld.
If you are an even moderately frequent flyer or are trying to redeem airlines miles, it is important to know which airlines are a part of the same alliance to take advantage of the perks that airline alliances offer and gain access to booking award flights on partner airlines. This also comes in handy when trying to figure out the best use of airlines miles and various credit card partners that airlines may have.
How I Leverage the Benefits of Airline Alliances
Recent examples of how I have been able to leverage my knowledge of airlines alliances is to optimize the value I get for our flights when it comes partner awards and redeeming airlines miles.
On our recent Europe Trip, I redeemed miles for award flights to Europe that were earned through airline credit card spending, flying to accrue miles and by transferring Amex Points and converting them to airlines miles.
I have had a large amount of Alaska Airlines Miles saved up over the years and have been looking for the best redemption for them. Since Alaska Airlines recently became a member of the Oneworld Alliance I wanted to use these miles before they got devalued and I knew those miles could possibly be redeemed on partner airline Iberia for our recent Europe trip.
Venice to Madrid to Dallas
VCE to MAD (4 day free stopover) and then MAD to DFW on Iberia that was booked via Alaska Airlines miles: 140,000 Alaska Miles for 4 tickets (35k miles per person) for Premium Economy seats on Iberia
Similarly, I was able to also use Delta SkyMiles to book award flights on SkyTeam partner KLM. Last Summer, I used Delta SkyMiles to book partner awards on Air France to Paris and Virgin Atlantic from London.
San Francisco to Amsterdam
SFO to AMS on KLM Royal Dutch Airways booked via Delta: 140,000 Delta SkyMiles (35k miles per person) transferred from Amex for Premium Economy seats on KLM
By understanding which airlines belong to a particular airline alliance, you can better plan multi-city itineraries (especially helpful for international flights), enjoy reciprocal benefits on partner airlines and optimize the value for your flights (and get more value out of your credit card points and airlines miles)
"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list." - Susan Sontag
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