Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are scaling back their relationship in a big way at the end of 2017. The two airlines had previously allowed customers to earn and use perks interchangeably with quite a bit of freedom. Members of both the American Airlines AAdvantage program and the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan could enjoy a long list of benefits that included priority boarding, priority security screening, preferred seating and a generous allowance for checked bags. Those shared perks will now be stripped under the reduced partnership.
The other big change coming with the cooling of the partnership between the two airlines is that Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan awards are going to see a big devaluation when used to book American Airlines flights. This comes following a devaluation that was done by American Airlines in 2016.
One piece of good news for customers who may be disappointed by the reduction in perks is that changes won't go into effect until January of 2018. That means perks can still be earned and used under the shared program during the busy summer travel season and the upcoming holiday season. It also means that members of both programs can continue to use and earn qualifying miles when they fly from now until the end of the year.
What Happens In 2018?
AAdvantage elite benefits from American Airlines will no longer apply for travel on Alaska Airlines. In addition, Mileage Plan elite benefits from Alaska Airlines will no longer apply on American Airlines flights.
It will still be possible for travelers to earn AAdvantage award credits and elite-qualifying credits on Alaska flights. Doing so will now require you to take the step of booking your flights with American Airlines flight numbers. These flights will be treated as though they are regular American Airlines flights in terms of the perks you can earn.
Alaska Airlines will be changing Mileage Plan award rates on American Airlines flights, too. In fact, Alaska will actually be increasing prices for award flights in many categories at the start of next year. Off-peak awards for Mileage Plan members flying to Central America, South America and Asia are also going to take a hit once the new changes become official.
Some Details That Won't Change In 2018
American Airlines and Alaska Airlines aren't completely cutting ties just yet. There are actually some features of the current partnership that will continue into 2018. AAdvantage members can continue to redeem miles on Alaska Airlines flights to Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and over 100 cities domestically. In addition, mileage redemption is not changing. AAdvantage members can continue to book award travel using the entire Alaska Airlines network.
Admirals Club members won't lose their benefits under the new changes either. Lounge members can still access Alaska lounges in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles when they travel. Alaska Lounge members will enjoy access to Admirals Club lounges whether they travel with Alaska Airlines or American Airlines.