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Airline alliances are a very important concept for a points-driven traveler to understand. They are partnerships between airlines that allow for redemption of points for award travel between the airlines in the alliance. They usually come with some variation of reciprocal elite status and/or lounge access between the airlines in the alliance. If used correctly this concept can be very lucrative for travelers willing to put in the time and effort to research the best transfer and redemption options within an airline alliance. In this piece, we will mainly focus on the Oneworld Alliance and its members, and in future posts talk about Star and Skyteam Alliances.
Things to know:
- Points held by a certain airline within an alliance cannot transfer to another airline, even if they are within the same alliance. For example, if you have American Airlines Aadvantage points, you cannot transfer them to British Airways even though they are both part of the Oneworld Alliance.
- The airline program that holds your points is the one that makes the rules on how they can be utilized with any airline within that alliance. So if for example you have points with Delta’s SkyMiles program, but you want to book an award flight with Air France. Nevertheless, it is possible to do but Delta makes the rules on how many points it will cost to book the ticket.
This is why it is especially important you do your research prior to transferring your flexible points from your credit card program. Once they are in an airline loyalty account they cannot transfer back to the flexible reward program. This helps to ensure that you transfer your points to the airline within an alliance that provides you the best price (in points).
Alliance Member Airlines:
Oneworld Alliance was founded in 1999, the four original members were American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. The alliance has its headquarters in New York, NY. There are currently thirteen member airlines in the Oneworld Alliance.
American Airlines( AA) is the only US legacy carrier that is apart of the alliance, and has its headquarters in Fort Worth, TX. It serves 350 destinations in 50 countries. Additionally it has hubs (airports that serve to concentrate and as transfer points for passengers) in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, DC. It’s loyalty program is Aadvantage. Both Barclay’s and Citi offer Aadvantage credit cards. Despite this, none of the banks (American Express, Chase, Citi and Capital One) that have flexible reward programs currently have American Airlines as a direct transfer partner.
British Airways (BA) is one of the main air carriers of the United Kingdom. Its headquarters is in the Greater London area in the UK. Furthermore it mainly operates from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports. BA is a subsidiary of the International Airlines Group (IAG). It serves 200 destinations in 80 countries. Its frequent flyer program is the Executive Club, and the points in this program are Avios. Chase Bank offers the only BA personal credit card called the British Airways Visa Signature Card. Additionally, Chase Bank and American Express are transfer partners for British Airways.
Finnair is the flagship carrier of Finland. It has its headquarters in Vantaa, Finland. Further it mainly operates out of Helsinki airport. Finnair serves 150 destinations in 45 countries. Its frequent flyer program is call Finnair Plus. The Finnair Plus Mastercard is only available for residents of Finland. Lastly, Capital One Rewards program is a direct transfer partner of Finnair.
Iberia is the flagship carrier of Spain. Its headquarters is in Madrid, Spain. Therefore, it mainly operates out of the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport. Similarly to British Airways, it is a subsidiary of the International Airlines Group (IAG). It serves 135 destinations in 47 countries. Its loyalty program is Iberia Plus. Chase Bank issues the Iberia Visa Signature Card. Currently, American Express and Chase Bank are the two transfer partners with Iberia.
Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong. Its headquarters is at Hong Kong International Airport which also happens to be its main hub. It serves 90 destinations within 35 countries. Its loyalty program is the Marco Polo Club. Synchrony Bank issues the Cathay Pacific credit card. In addition, American Express, Citi and Capital One are transfer partners for Cathay Pacific.
S7 Airlines is the largest private airline in Russia. Headquartered in Novosibirsk, it has two main hubs: Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport and Novosibirsk’s Tolmachevo Airport. It serves 196 destinations in 33 countries. Its frequent flyer program is S7 Priority. There are no co-branded credit cards offered in the US for S7 Airlines. Moreover, S7 Airlines is not a direct transfer partner of any of the flexible reward programs.
SriLankan Airlines is the national flag carrier of SriLanka. Its headquarters is in Katunayake, Sri Lanka. Additionally it operates mainly from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport. It serves 111 destinations in 48 countries. Its loyalty program is call FlySmiles. There are no co-branded credit cards offered in the US. In fact, SriLankan Airlines is not a direct transfer partner of any of the flexible reward programs.
Japan Airlines is one of two flagship carriers of Japan. Its headquarters is in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Further, it has four major hubs in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Okinawa. It serves 80 destinations in 20 countries. Its frequent flyer program is JGC/JMB. First Bankcard issues the JAL USA Card for Japan Airlines. Unfortunately, Japan Airlines is not a direct transfer partner of any of the major flexible credit card reward programs.
Malaysia Airlines is one of the main carriers operating out of Malaysia. It is based in Sepang, Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which is where its operations are based. It serves 55 destinations in 17 countries. Its frequent flyer program is Enrich. There is not a Malaysia Airlines credit card offered in the US. Yet, Citi Thankyou Rewards is the only program that is a direct transfer partner with Malaysia Airlines.
Qatar Airways is the national carrier of Qatar. Its headquartered in the city of Doha and its main hub is Hamad International Airport, also in Doha. It serves 200 destinations in 100 countries. Its loyalty program is the Privilege Club. There is not a co-branded credit card for Qatar Airways in the US. However, Capital One and Citi are both direct transfer partners of Qatar Airways.
Royal Jordanian is the national carrier of the Kingdom of Jordan. Its headquarters is in Amman, Jordan. Additionally, it mainly operates out of Queen Alia International Airport. It serves 45 destinations in 30 countries. Its loyalty program is the Royal Club. There is not a co-branded credit card for Royal Jordanian in the US. Unfortunately, Royal Jordanian is not a direct transfer partner of any of the flexible reward programs.
Qantas is one of the biggest Australian carriers. It is the only one to be part of a worldwide airline alliance. Qantas has its headquarters in the Greater Sydney area. In addition, it maintains hubs in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. It serves 80 destinations in 20 countries. Its loyalty program is the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. There is not a co-branded credit card for Qantas in the US. Nevertheless, American Express, Capital One and Citi are all direct transfer partners of Qantas.
Royal Air Maroc (RAM) is the national carrier of Morocco. The Moroccan government owns a majority stake. Its headquartered in Casablanca and operates mainly from Mohammed V International airport. It serves 105 destinations in 51 countries. Its frequent flyer program is called Safar Flyer. There is not a co-branded credit card for Royal Air Maroc in the US. Unfortunately, RAM is not a direct transfer partner of any of the flexible reward programs.
Oneworld Connect Partners:
While not full Oneworld Alliance members, they do offer a select set of benefits to frequent flyers of other alliance members. Some alliance members can be Oneworld sponsors for a Connect Partner and with those airlines, a more extensive range of benefits exist.
Fiji Airways is the flag carrier of Fiji and the South Pacific. It is currently the only Oneworld Connect Partner. Its Oneworld Sponsors include: British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and soon to be American Airlines. Fiji Airways has its headquarters in Nadi, Fiji Islands. Further it mainly operates out of Nadi International Airport. It serves 21 destinations in 13 countries. Its frequent flyer program is Tabua Club Plus. There are no co-branded credit cards offered in the US. Fiji Airways is not a direct transfer partner of any of the flexible reward programs.
Future Oneworld Member:
Alaska Airlines has announced that it has plans to become one of the Oneworld Alliance members on March 31, 2021. Alaska Airlines has its headquarters in Seattle, WA. Moreover it maintains hubs in Seattle, WA, Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, Portland, OR and Anchorage, AK. The carrier serves 115 destinations. Its loyalty program is Mileage Plan. Alaska Airlines does have a co-branded credit card issued by Bank of America. However, it is currently not a direct transfer partner of any of the flexible rewards programs.