Frequent passengers on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines may recall the 2017 announcement in which the two airlines began scaling back their relationship. At the time, flyers saw cuts to both reciprocal mileage earnings on domestic flights and frequent flyer perks, while some partner benefits remained intact.
According to recent announcements, however, a second round of cuts to the partnership is taking some of those remaining benefits away as well.
Per the Alaska Airlines website, passengers will no longer be able to accrue Alaska’s Mileage Plan miles on American Airlines international flights. Additionally, you’ll no longer be able to redeem Alaska miles for travel on American Airlines, both domestically and internationally. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2020.
American Airlines posted a similar update to their website, informing flyers that they’ll no longer be able to redeem American Airlines miles on Alaska Airlines, effective February 29, 2020. What's the deal with these latest changes and how will they impact your miles and rewards from travel credit cards?
What remains unchanged for now?
Although the partnership continues to dwindle, certain partnership perks aren’t going anywhere.
For Alaska Airlines flyers:
- You'll still earn one Mileage Plan mile for each mile you fly on select American Airlines flights that carry an Alaska flight number starting with AS
- Alaska Lounge members can still access American Admirals Club lounges when flying on Alaska or American Airlines flights
For American Airlines flyers:
- You can continue to earn AAdvantage miles, Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs), and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) on American Airline-marketed flights (AA flight number) that are operated by Alaska Airlines
- American Admiral Club members can continue to use Alaska Lounges when flying on American or Alaska Airlines flights
How to maximize your American and Alaska miles
According to the American Airlines website, “all [Alaska Airlines] award travel must be booked and ticketed by February 29, 2020. Travel is valid for 1 year after ticketing date and must be flown no later than February 28, 2021. Ticket changes will not be allowed after February 29, 2020.”
That means if you’ve been stockpiling American Airlines miles and plan to use them on Alaska flights, you should keep those deadlines in mind.
Alaska Airlines states that, effective March 1, 2020, you’ll no longer be able to redeem miles for travel on American Airlines; you’ll need to complete your reward bookings on American before that date.
If you hope to rack up Alaska miles for international American Airlines flights, trips must be booked before October 2, 2019 and travel must be completed by the end of February 2020.
If you book an international American Airlines flight after October 2 for travel after February 2020, you can still earn Alaska miles but you’ll need to submit a mileage credit request to do so.
And don’t forget, both airlines continue to have robust partnerships with other carriers. Currently, American Airlines has more than 20 travel partners that you can redeem your AAdvantage miles with, such as Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines. Alaska Airlines has 18 airline partners, including British Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Qantas.
While the partnership between American and Alaska Airlines seems to be dwindling, there are still some shared benefits that will live another day, such as lounge access and earning miles on eligible codeshare flights. You can compare these rewards to identify the best airline credit card for you going forward.
It’s never exciting to see cuts or limitations in how you can use miles — especially, in this case, if you’re an Alaska Airlines or American Airlines-branded credit card holder that relies on the flexibility of your miles. It might also be time to take a look at some of the best travel credit cards that aren't tied to a particular airline.
Whether this change is big enough for you to switch to a card with easy-to-use airline miles is up to you.
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