Why Airline Alliances and Partnerships Are Great

Why Airline Alliances and Partnerships Are Great

What Are Airline Alliances

Alliances are formal agreements between different airlines to join together and to provide shared flights and benefits for passengers. These shared flights are offered as code share flights where two or more airlines will work together to get you to your final destination. For example, Star Alliance member EVA Air does not offer any direct flights from San Diego (SAN) to Taipei (TPE).

In order to expand their route network and service more locations, they will offer a codeshare flight with another alliance airline like Air Canada to fly from SAN to Vancouver (YVR) and then direct on EVA Air from YVR to TPE. Airlines also have individual partnerships that can span multiple alliances. For example, Alaska Airlines is a member of the OneWorld alliance but has a partnership with Singapore Airlines (SQ) despite SQ being a part of Star Alliance. These individual partnerships in addition to alliance partnerships allow for very extensive route networks and some great benefits for frequent flyers that we’ll dive into.

United Airlines Alliance Parters and Non Alliance Partners

What Airline Alliances Are There Today

There are 3 main airline alliances today. I’ll list out some major members of each alliance as well.

  1. Star Alliance
    • Singapore Airlines
    • United
    • Air Canada
  2. OneWorld Alliance
    • Qatar Airways
    • American Airlines
    • Cathay Pacific
  3. SkyTeam Alliance
    • Delta
    • Air France
    • Korean Air

Earning And Redeeming On Partner Airlines

The biggest benefit of partnerships is the ability to earn status miles and redeemable miles on partner flights and then redeem them for partner airlines. For example, even though I am flying on Delta Airlines, I can earn status miles and redeemable miles for fellow SkyTeam member Virgin Atlantic. I can then use those Virgin Atlantic miles I just earned and use them to book Virgin Atlantic’s non-alliance partner ANA.

This is just a simple example of how extensive these partnerships can be. Before you get too excited and try to credit all flights to partner airlines, you have to understand some rules. For every flight, you can only credit miles to a single airline. This means that you have to be careful and strategic in picking which airline to credit the miles to. Thankfully, there’s actually a nifty tool: wheretocredit that helps out with this problem.

Next is that all partners have different mileage earning rates. For example, flying business class on Qatar and crediting that to Alaska Airlines has a rate of 225% miles earned. But flying business class on Condor will have an earning rate of 300% when crediting to Alaska Airlines. Often times for economy, the airline servicing the flight you are on will have a better earn rate than the earn rate you get crediting those miles to a partner. Be careful to check the earning charts and make sure you’re crediting miles to the airline that makes the most sense for you. Lastly, award flights or flights booked with miles do NOT earn any sort of miles.

Alaska Airlines Miles Earned When Flying on Qantas

Now that you understand how to earn miles via partners, it’s time for the fun part: understanding how to redeem miles for partners. One of the most important aspects of the entire hobby is understanding award charts, which determine how much it will cost to redeem miles for a flight. Most airlines will publish award charts that show how many of their own miles are need to redeem for one of their own flights or for flights on partner airlines. Flight redemption costs can vary wildly among partners but often times it is cheaper to book an airline via a partner’s miles instead of using the desired airline’s own loyalty program. For example, if trying to book a LAX->SYD flight in business class on Qantas, according to Qantas’ award chart, it would cost 108,400 Qantas miles.

Qantas Award Chart

Compare that to booking via fellow OneWorld Member, Cathay Pacific. That same exact flight would only cost 75,000 miles! A pretty drastic difference. The key to succeeding in this hobby is understanding these award charts so that you can find the sweet redemption spots and get max value from your points and miles.

Cathay Pacific Award Chart

It is also important to know about dynamic pricing (yuck). Dynamic pricing means that there is no award chart and that the airline can price redemptions at whatever they feel like at any time. This makes it easier for airlines to jack up prices without notice and also makes it difficult for frequent flyers to plan and know how much a particular flight may cost on a given day. Just look at how wildly the price can jump for the same flight on Air France.

Reasonable Business Flight Cost on Air France
Ridiculous Cost For Same Flight

Status Benefits On Partner Airlines

All airlines have a some kind of tiered status program that rewards loyal passengers. The nice thing about alliances is that this status maps to an overall alliance status that allows you to enjoy similar benefits on partner airlines. For example, the OneWorld Alliance has 3 tiers: Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. If you are an Alaska Airlines MVP, you would have OneWorld Ruby status. Alaska Airlines MVP Gold status would be equal to OW Sapphire and MVP Gold 75k or higher would equal OW Emerald.

With this alliance status, you can get benefits that apply to all other individual airlines within the alliance when flying them. For example, being an Alaska MVP Gold member and therefore OneWorld Sapphire means that I get access to business class priority check-in, priority boarding, picking seats on certain flights, extra checked bags, etc. Similar to normal airline statuses, the higher status you have within an alliance means access to more benefits.

Those with Status Get Access to More Seats

Lounge Access

One of the best perks of having status with an alliance airline is being able to enter premium airline lounges. You may think that you can only get access to an airline lounge if you are flying that specific airline, but with alliances, that is not the case! Usually such lounges are reserved for business or first class passengers, but if you have a high enough status with an alliance airline, you are able to enter these lounges. This perk is so great because you don’t even have to be flying on business/first class or even flying that airline to get access.

However, there are still some requirements to be aware of. You must be taking a same day flight on an alliance airline. This means that you can’t be flying Lufthansa and enter the Qantas business class lounge, even if you have OneWorld Sapphire status because Lufthansa is not part of the OneWorld alliance. This perk is really great for those times you may be flying economy internationally and want somewhere to freshen up or relax. Almost every major airport has some premium lounge that alliance members can get access to so this perk can come in really handy on that next international trip.

Lufthansa Senator Business Class Lounge in Frankfurt


Alliances and partnerships provide so many benefits to loyal flyers from extra baggage allowance to premium lounge access. They’re also one of the main reasons that this hobby exists because of the ability to earn and redeem miles on partner airlines. So next time you’re considering booking a flight, consider being loyal to an alliance airline and pursuing status with them so that you can get access to all the great perks alliances offer.

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