Alaska Airlines is now a member of the global Oneworld alliance, with the Seattle-based carrier formally taking its seat at the table overnight.
The move means a host of perks for Qantas Frequent Flyer members flying with Alaska once overseas travel resumes.
Alaska has traditionally been strong along the US West Coast, mainly for Aussies flying to and from Seattle for everything from tech hubs to cruise tourism.
While there's been a long-standing pact offering some Qantas passengers access to selected Alaska Airlines lounges, that arrangement expands to more locations and becomes less restrictive with Alaska Airlines in Oneworld, in keeping with lounge access for other Oneworld member airlines such as Cathay Pacific.
Standard Oneworld benefits include priority check-in and boarding, boosted baggage allowances and the ability to earn status credits on Alaska Airlines’ own flights are all now part of the mix.
For Alaska Airlines’ own Mileage Plan members, access to Qantas domestic business class and international first class lounges is also now possible – here’s what you need to know.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan vs Qantas, Oneworld status tiers
Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan frequent flyer program has an entry level, three main elite tiers, and a lifetime designation for the airline’s most regular flyers.
Here's how Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan membership tiers align with Qantas Frequent Flyer and Oneworld's alliance-wide levels:
- Mileage Plan Member: as the program’s entry-level, non-elite tier, travellers who are simply members of Mileage Plan reside at this level. Members are able to earn and spend points across the Oneworld alliance, but not receive additional perks at this tier.
- Mileage Plan MVP cardholders are mapped to Oneworld Ruby (akin to Qantas Silver) providing benefits such as priority check-in when travelling with all Oneworld member airlines.
- Mileage Plan MVP Gold frequent flyers are onboarded as Oneworld Sapphire (Qantas Gold) members, adding priority boarding and business class airport lounge access to the mix across the Oneworld alliance.
- Mileage Plan Million Miler: In return for flying 1,000,000 miles on Alaska Airlines, Million Milers get MVP Gold / Oneworld Sapphire status for life.
- Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K cardholders and member of the forthcoming Mileage Plan MVP 100K tier score Oneworld Emerald (Qantas Platinum) status – upgrading lounge access to include Oneworld first class lounges, plus airport fast-track perks and more.
Alaska Airlines: benefits for Qantas frequent flyers
With Alaska Airlines a full member of Oneworld, Qantas Frequent Flyers gain additional perks on Alaska Airlines flights, in line with Oneworld alliance standards – here’s what to look out for.
Improved Alaska Airlines lounge access
Rather than only having access to specific lounges when connecting to or from a Qantas flight – as was previously the case – Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members can now access all Alaska Airlines lounges, including on domestic-only trips.
This also includes the ‘partner lounges’ designated for use by Alaska Airlines passengers in airports where Alaska doesn’t operate its own lounge.
These passengers are also able to access Alaska Airlines lounges when flying American Airlines, and American Airlines lounges when flying Alaska Airlines, in line with Oneworld rules based on their Australian frequent flyer status.
However, lounge access for Qantas Club cardholders is separate to Oneworld, and so would continue to follow the previous rules, requiring a connection to or from a Qantas flight in order to access an Alaska Airlines lounge.
Alaska Airlines priority check-in and boarding
Priority check-in is a standard alliance benefit for all Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald members.
This includes Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members.
Under alliance rules, where offered, priority boarding is also extended to Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald cardholders, covering Qantas Gold frequent flyers and above.
Inclusive checked baggage on Alaska Airlines
Across the Oneworld alliance, Sapphire frequent flyers (Qantas Gold) and Emerald-tier members (Qantas Platinum and above) receive additional checked baggage, over and above the allowance indicated on their ticket.
With just one exception (British Airways), this policy applies even if the passenger’s ticket includes no checked baggage at all, which is standard practice in economy on Alaska Airlines.
As Alaska Airlines uses the ‘piece’ system for checked baggage, Qantas Gold frequent flyers would be guaranteed at least one checked bag weighing up to 23kg (50 lbs) at no charge, including on bookings with no checked baggage included.
On bookings with baggage already included, there’s no extra allowance for Qantas Gold and Oneworld Sapphire, as the Sapphire inclusion is a ‘minimum guarantee’ only, except on bookings which include both domestic and international Oneworld flights.
For Qantas Platinum members and above, however, their Oneworld Emerald status provides one additional bag on airlines that use the ‘piece’ system. This could provide one free checked bag on tickets with no checked luggage, or where luggage is included, an extra bag beyond that limit.
Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers are also normally entitled to priority luggage tags on Oneworld flights.
Airport fast-track with Alaska Airlines
For top-tier Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers – that’s Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge – access to airport fast-track lanes is also provided, where available.
This typically includes a priority lane at airport security where such a lane exists. However, travellers who qualify for TSA PreCheck may find the designated PreCheck lane even faster.
Earn Qantas Points on Alaska Airlines flights
Qantas Frequent Flyer members could already earn Qantas Points – but not status credits – on Alaska Airlines flights booked under an AS flight number, including on domestic-only journeys within the United States.
The number of Qantas Points earned depends on the distance of flight and the type of fare purchased – with longer flights and higher-priced tickets generally earning more points than short hops and those booked on rock-bottom airfares.
On a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Seattle, travellers could earn 1,650 Qantas Points on paid Alaska Airlines ‘first class’ fares, and between 275 and 1,100 Qantas Points on economy class tickets.
Earn status credits on Alaska Airlines flights
In addition to points, travellers can now expect to earn Qantas status credits on eligible Alaska Airlines flights, booked under the airline’s native ‘AS’ flight number.
This opens the door to earning Qantas status credits on purely domestic itineraries with Alaska Airlines, and on Alaska Airlines flights that aren’t booked in conjunction with Qantas airfares.
Of course, the number of status credits earned may not be as high as when travelling on a Qantas (QF) codeshare flight, but some status credits still beat none, when travelling on an AS flight number.
Using Qantas Points on Alaska Airlines flights
Qantas Frequent Flyer members have long been able to spend Qantas Points on Alaska Airlines flights.
On that same one-way journey from Los Angeles to Seattle, you’d need 14,000 Qantas Points for an economy class seat, or a much higher 43,500 Qantas Points for ‘first class’. The required co-payment in cash on these bookings is quite low, typically just US$5.60 per passenger.
As Alaska Airlines’ better-than-economy cabin is branded “first class”, the number of Qantas Points needed to book a seat comes at the full Qantas Frequent Flyer first class rates, even though the experience is akin to what most Australian travellers would consider business class.
Even after joining Oneworld, Qantas Frequent Flyer continues to levy those full first class rates on Alaska Airlines reward bookings.
That's unfortunate, particularly as American Airlines’ two-cabin ‘first class’ flights are priced at business class levels in Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Qantas benefits for Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members
Just as Qantas Frequent Flyer members get new perks when travelling with Alaska Airlines, eligible Mileage Plan members can look forward to new privileges on Qantas, too.
Qantas lounge access for Mileage Plan members
Under the previous deal between Qantas and Alaska Airlines, Mileage Plan MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members could already visit domestic Qantas Clubs and international Qantas business lounges prior to Qantas flights.
The biggest addition will be for MVP Gold 75K cardholders, being mapped to Oneworld Emerald, which adds Qantas’ domestic business class lounges and international first class lounges into the mix.
Other Qantas benefits for Mileage Plan members
All elite Mileage Plan members can use Qantas priority check-in, with Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers making use of Qantas’ domestic priority security lanes, and Emerald members receiving Express Path cards for international travel, when this resumes.
Some travellers may also be eligible for additional checked baggage, depending on the type of fare purchased, where they’re travelling to, and their Mileage Plan (Oneworld) status.
Mileage Plan members can also earn qualifying flight miles and qualifying segments on eligible Qantas fares and flights, helping to gain or retain their Mileage Plan status – comparable to how Qantas frequent flyers earn status credits.