In breaking travel news, Alaska Airlines will be joining the oneworld alliance sometime in summer 2021.
This news is both huge and surprising, as Alaska has been cutting ties in recent years with former partner American Airlines. I’m sure the news is especially well-received among oneworld members, as they recently lost LATAM (which was a significant loss, since it was their only Latin American-based carrier).
My thoughts: I’m a bit uneasy about this change, as my fear is that the following will be (negatively) affected:
How you earn status on Alaska (currently, pretty easy and based on the actual miles you fly regardless of how much you spend on your tickets)
Redemption rates for Alaska partners (an example of a redemption rate that I don’t want to lose is that you can redeem 55,000 Alaska miles for business class to New Zealand or Australia on Qantas)
Alaska partners (currently Alaska has a hodgepodge of great airline partners and they may lose some, like Emirates and Singapore, by joining oneworld)
That said, as a San Francisco-based traveler, this makes the prospect of status on Alaska makes a lot more since it’s hubbed in SFO and I can fly American Airlines for my international trips with oneworld status.
What are your thoughts on Alaska joining oneworld? Let me know in the comments!
My upcoming travel schedule just got a bit more luxurious!
As a background, in a recent post I mentioned how you can earn 60,000 miles with a new Business Aviator American Airlines credit card. The business card has an annual fee of $95 and gets you priority boarding, free checked luggage, and a 5% bonus on miles earned each year, among other benefits.
I also currently have an American Airlines Red Aviator card. This card also has a $95 annual fee, gets your priority boarding, and free checked luggage. The Red Aviator has another benefit — you get 10% of award miles used automatically credited back each calendar year (up to a maximum of 10,000 miles per year). Using a $0.014/mile valuation for American AAdvatage miles, this can net you up $140 per year.
In considering whether to keep both cards, I realized that I’ve been holding onto a ton of American AAdvantage miles for a few years, mainly because my experience is that the award redemption options on American Airlines are incredibly limited. Award flights will put you on convoluted routes, particularly to Europe, and a lot of business class tickets turn out to be mixed cabins, with the longest leg (i.e., LAX to Sydney) in economy. Because of this, the 10% redemption value is worth less and less to me, and so I’ve decided to cancel the card.
But I had 100,000 miles to burn before canceling the card, so that I could get my 10,000 bonus miles, and wanted to find the best way to use it.
Enter Qatar Airways. Currently, Qatar Airways is a part of the Oneworld alliance and award tickets are redeemable through American. In the last few days, the CEO of Qatar Airways has threatened to leave Oneworld, and based on other rhetoric from BA and American Airlines, I think this is likely going to happen soon.
Qatar Airways is well-known for having one of the best (if not the best) business class product around. Recently, they have launched their QSuite business class product, which is exactly like it sounds — you get your own suite (privacy door included!) with some pretty cool features, including a sitting area, ability to connect your beds if you’re flying with your partner, and also an ability to set up a conference table for 4 if you’re traveling with your family and/or on a business trip.
Right now, redeeming American AAdvantage miles is one of the best ways to book these suites, and the cheapest routes that I could find that utilized the QSuites were to Bangkok and Tokyo, at a ridiculously low 40,000 miles (which is 36,000 miles after deducting the 10%. Aviator Red benefit. Considering the purchase price of this flight is $2,897 and 36,000 miles are valued at $540, this is an incredible deal.
Although I love Bangkok, the flight from DOH to BKK is about 2 hours shorter than Tokyo, and I wanted to be on the flight for as long as possible.
Importantly, not every flight between Doha and Tokyo has the QSuite product. While you can determine if the flight has QSuite by using ExpertFlyer, the easiest way is to actually price it out on Google Flights and then try and book through CheapOair, which will give you a seat map.
This is what the seat map looks like for flights with QSuite (right now, it looks like flight 806 between DOH and NRT has it):
This is what the seat map looks like for flights without QSuite (right now, it looks like flight 812 between DOH and HND does not have it)
So, with that, I’ve booked the ticket and am looking forward to check out the Qatar Airways QSuite! I added on this onto a round-the-world trip that I was able to book for a total of 101,1250 AAdvantage miles (including this amazing business class seat), and I’ll blog more about that later.
Have you flown the Qatar Airways QSuite? Let me know about your experiences in the comments!
Finnair, a part of the Oneworld Alliance, will begin weighing passengers and their carry-on luggage, as part of a voluntary program starting on October 31st.
The airline’s hope is to have more accurate data to calculate the balance of their planes. According to a local Finnish news report, the data Finnair currently uses for passenger weight is from a 2009 report from the European Aviation Safety Agency.
The information will be logged anonymously.
Weighing passengers before they fly isn’t unique to Finnair, though. The first time I was weighed on a flight was on a 5-person charter plane from Portland to Coos Bay, Oregon. Most recently, I was weighed before flying from Manila to El Nido in the Philippines and before boarding a helicopter on Kauai.
My fear is that Finnair and potentially other airlines will use this data to charge customers more, but I’m a fan of science and can’t be mad at them for wanting to get the balance of the plane right.